Case Study on Digital and Offset Versions

A commercial printing client of mine produces approximately one to three book titles each year. She and her husband value the production qualities of their print books (as do their clients), so the final copies are produced via offset lithography on 12 pt. cover stock with a 60# text sheet for the interior book block as well as French flaps and a hinge score parallel to the spine.

Along with these copies (1,000 or 1,500 for the initial commercial printing), my client produces about 50 galley copies digitally (on HP Indigo equipment or comparable, depending on the print supplier). These copies have 10 pt. covers without French flaps, and the text blocks are printed on 70# text stock.

That said, at the moment two different printers produce these books. One is more cost effective for digital (with a superb turn-around time). The other is a little pricey for offset lithography but can manufacture the books in five weeks (as opposed to the 16 weeks many other vendors are offering due to paper shortages).

The task, then, is to coordinate a digital and an offset press run at different printers and make sure the two books go together.

Issues That Have Arisen: Matching Digital and Offset Output

Matching digital and offset printing for the text and cover, in general, is a huge if not impossible task. In my client’s case, though, there will be no problem, since the text of the books is black only without halftones printed on a rough textured sheet. And even though the covers will be printed digitally (for the galley copies) and via offset lithography (for the final version), the galleys are only review copies and therefore don’t need to be of the same high quality as the final print books.