At Steuben Press we want to be your book printer, but we also want you to love books like we do! Below you will find answers to numerous questions not just about our services, but about the book industry that will prepare you for the process ahead.

Q: Perfect bound book vs. spiral bound book, which is better for me?

Most books that you will find on the shelves in bookstores are perfect bound. This means a cover is printed and coated, the interior pages (book block) is printed and trimmed separately and then adhered using glue to form a spine. Spiral bound uses a plastic coil to hold the pages together and is more traditionally used for business documents, cookbooks, or classroom materials. If you are wanting a book that will lay completely flat on a table in front of your reader, spiral bound is the way to go. Please visit our Binding page for lots more info and pictures of different types of binding.

Q: How do I determine my book’s page count and how many color pages I have?

The first important note is that the cover of your book should not be included in your page count, and that it will always be printed in color. Even if you have a truly black and white cover, we will print it on a color press to give your blacks the richness they deserve. Secondly, you want to count the actual printed sides in your book, NOT the number of pieces of paper in your book (i.e. if your PDF is 200 pages that means we’ll use 100 sheets of paper, but print on 200 sides – we want the 200 number). Finally, any page in your book that has color on it, even if it is only one letter or one tiny little dot, is counted as a color page. Grayscale images can be counted as black and white pages, but please be sure that your image was created in black and white – sometimes what looks black and white on screen will be recognized by a digital printing press as color. Please note that a blank page counts as a black and white page, and your final page count should always be an even number. Page count is one of the biggest things we’ll be looking at when you upload your files and our pre-press team analyzes your files against your quote.

Q: What is your minimum run for book printing?

On almost all jobs our minimum order is 10 books. This number allows us to defray labor costs enough to offer a competitive price on your prints. If you truly need less than 10 copies of your book please let us know by using our Contact form or by giving us a call. We are happy to produce whatever number you need, just know your cost per book will definitely go up significantly. The 10 book minimum does not always apply to custom orders. If we need to use custom papers or sizes to produce your books we will most likely require a higher minimum order.

Q: What is your production time?

Our production standard is to ship your order within 5-10 business days after you’ve submitted your proof approval. Depending on the volume of jobs moving through our shop at any given time this can be slightly less or slightly more. We will notify you at the time of order if we feel there would be any delays to this schedule, and during the file upload process we ask that you notify us if there is a specific day that you need your books. We will always do our very best to accommodate your schedule. Please note that our production time starts when you return your proof approval, and does not include shipping time from our facilities in Colorado to you.

Q: Can you produce custom book sizes?

Absolutely! The sizes available in our instant quote calculator are reflective of our standard sizes, and those which will be the most economical choices for your book. However each project is unique and if you feel you’d like to discuss a different size for your book, please fill out our Contact form or give us a call and let us know about your book. We are very happy to accommodate any book printing project that we can, and are able to provide just about any size imaginable. Please note most custom sizes will be slightly more expensive than our standard sizes, and may require a run size larger than is typical.

Q: Can I reorder my book?

We can’t wait! For many years before this website was launched nearly all of our business came from repeat clients and their referrals. We hope you become one of our many clients who reprint with us. We will keep your files in our system for at least six months following your order. Please always maintain a copy of your book file and don’t rely on our servers, but know that in all likelihood when you come back to us for a reprint you won’t need to do anything more than get in touch with us and let our team know you need some more copies of your book.

Q: Which is better for my book cover, lamination or UV coating?

When you UV coat a book cover there is a fluid resin applied to the paper, which then passes underneath an ultraviolet light source which hardens the coating. In most cases this gives the book a very glossy finish (though there is such a thing as semi-gloss and even matte UV coating). Lamination will give your book cover a similar glossy appearance, but given that there is an actual film applied your book cover will be more resistant to scuffing and fingerprints. So in short: UV coating is less expensive lends itself to a more pliable book cover, whereas lamination, while more expensive, is more durable and protects your cover from wear and tear a bit better than UV. Finally, if you want a matte finish to your cover, lamination is the way to go – we don’t like the results of matte UV fluid and choose not to offer it as an option at this point. There are many schools of thought on this question, including whether you want a coating on your book cover at all, and we’ve written more extensively about it in our blog.

Q: How do I calculate spine width for my book cover?

This is a very important question when designing your book cover for a paperback book. With spiral bound, it’s not a problem because we can use different coil sizes, but when there will be text and possibly images printed on the spine of your book you’ll want to make sure it’s the proper size. If you have chosen 60lb paper for the interior pages of your book, just divide the total number of pages (sides) by 427. The result will be your spine width in inches. For example, a 200 page book, printed on 60lb paper, will have a spine width of .46”. If you have chosen 50lb paper for your interior page, just divide the total number of pages by 511. Please note that if your book is less than 76 pages it will be very difficult to center text on the spine of your book. If you have chosen 70lb paper for your interior pages, divide the total number of pages by 350.

Q: How do I format my Word document for printing my book?

Click on the “Page Layout” tab in Word, then on “Size” and then on “More Sizes.” You will be presented with a dialogue box where you can enter in the dimensions of what you want your finished book size to be on the “Paper” tab. This will likely be recognized as a custom size by the software, but that’s okay. In the same window click on the “Margins” tab and enter in your custom margin sizes. For most books you will want .75” on the top and bottom, .625” on the inside and outside. Please visit our blog for a much more detailed description of this process, or of course we’d be happy to help if you’re struggling. See our Interior Layout page for more details.

Q: What is an ISBN and how do I get one?

ISBN stands for International Serial Book Number and is a unique number assigned to all books which will be made available for sale. It is very important for you to have if you plan to sell your book through bookstores or online, and it maximizes the discoverability of your book. Bowker is the official source for ISBNs in the United States and we recommend always purchasing and registering your number through their system. The barcode that will go on the back cover of your book is based on this number and we will be happy to create that barcode for you so it will be recognized by scanners at any retail outlet. You can learn more about ISBNs in our blog.

Q: Do you offer hardcover book binding?

Yes and no. We have been printing books here for much longer than this website has been active. When we decided to launch this site we wanted to focus on an affordable, fast, customer friendly experience for our clients. Hardcover books, while beautiful are sadly none of those things! We made the decision to only offer paperback and spiral bound books through our instant quote calculator but we are happy to quote you on a hardcover book if your project fits within our available offerings. You can read a lot more about hardcover and lots of other binding options on our Binding page. If you have a special project you’d like us to quote please let us know by using our Contact form or by giving us a call.

Q: What type of file(s) should I upload?

Unless one of our team members is working on your Interior Layout, the answer is always PDF. The PDF file format is the safest way to make sure your printed book will come out looking exactly like it does on your computer screen at home. It won’t matter what software you created your book in, or what fonts you used, a PDF will show up on our presses just like they do on your screen. If you’re having any problems converting your file to a PDF please contact us and one of designers will be able to help with this process for a minimal charge.

Q: What does “bleed” mean in book printing?

A bleed is the area at the edge of the page that will be trimmed off after printing (or for a book after it is bound). Though printing technology has come a long, long way it is still relatively impossible to print exactly to the edge of a sheet of paper. In our system at Steuben Press we like to use an eighth of an inch bleed on any cover or page that has printing intended to go all the way to the edge of the finished book. For example, the front cover for a 5.5” x 8.5” book should actually be 5.625” x 8.75” as we will trim .125” off the outside edge as well as the top and bottom after binding. This concept can be very confusing for those new to printing so please read our blog post about this if you’re concerned and let us know about your troubles when you upload your file.

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