Best quality art book printer: A focus on the parts not seen

Best quality art book printer: A focus on the parts not seen


The quality of art book printing and binding is determined by the “ingredients” in a book that are unseen or overlooked by most consumers

We embraced Steve jobs’ philosophy when we set out to be the best best quality art book printer and photography-as-art book printer in America and beyond. Jobs’ obsessive focus on quality is a recurring theme throughout Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of the Apple founder (one of my favorite books).
Quality was not just relevant for the outside, but equally for the inside of each computerJobs built. He ascribes this to his adoptive father, Paul Jobs, who “loved doing things right. He cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”

One of Steve Jobs’ most memorable quotes states that “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

The quality of art book printing and binding is determined by the “ingredients” in a book that are unseen or overlooked by consumers.

Let’s look beyond that brilliant color printing and smooth coated, ultra-white art paper

So let’s look beyond that brilliant color printing and smooth coated, ultra-white art paper. Let’s dig a little deeper to see what’s below the surface!

Stripping away the dust jacket and then the foil stamped fabric reveals the hard cover boards, also knows as grey boards.

Why would we insist on the best quality – and more expensive – grey board… as no one ever sees it?

Binding board is made of living, breathing fibers that absorb and release moisture. A large coffee table book is printed and bound in a warm and humid printing plant in SE Asia. It is then shipped to a New York office heated with dry central air. The outside of  the board dries quicker than the inside and warping can occur. We only use the most warp-resistant board available. We also only use low-moisture adhesives and the correct end papers. They are essential to the quality of our art books. *

We always specify at least 3mm thick boards, even for smaller books.

While many book printers use the standard 2mm thick boards, we always specify 3mm thick boards. We spec this even for smaller books. A thicker board not only looks and feels better, but it is also much more stable. For larger art book sizes we use 4mm board.

Our hard cover art books feature a spine board for a better overall presentation. We also use head and tail bands in matching color as a nice finishing touch.

Reinforced smyth-sewn binding instead of glued binding

Several articles have already detailed the merits of reinforced smyth-sewn binding instead of glued binding. I will not elaborate on it here, but this article would be incomplete without at least mentioning it. Consumers notice that a book printed and bound by lies flat on the table when open (like a coffee table book should!). Insisting on this process is by no means standard in book manufacturing!

Our binding equipment allows us to reinforce this sewn binding. A valuable coffee table book should never fall apart because of poor binding

*In many cases, this problem fixes itself as the inside of the board eventually dries evenly with the outside, but this problem can be very unnerving to a customer! We want to prevent it from ever happening.

art book printing – a reputation for excellence

To be the art book printer with a reputation for excellence in quality and service

At ArtBookPrinting, we are so very grateful for our wonderful clients. They allow us to create and produce art books of unparalleled quality!

Many of my clients are high-profile artists at the top of a successful career in fine art or photography. They come to Art Book Printing because of our reputation. Art Book Printing has a reputation for excellence. We create, print and bind the finest art books in the world. My team and I must be prepared for high expectations and near-impossible demands. Our reputation is on the line with every full color art book we print.

Having said this, my job is often to educate a client to be a realistic and reasonable client. We love the challenge of making The Impossible happen, but success is attainable only if a client’s expectations are realistic. We are limited by time and the technology of our day.

“I have looked at the entire Pantone book and I cannot find the color red I am really looking for.”
Overheard a client in our design studio

The following Q&A may be helpful when you plan your coffee table book.

What is the truest color reproduction in fine art book printing?

The best color reproduction is central to our effort. But, our mission is not to replicate (make an exact copy of) original artwork; it would be impossible. Rather, our aim is to represent your work in the best possible way. This, of course, goes well beyond color reproduction: the design, materials, dimensions and features all add up to represent the unique artist a book represents.

Printing is not an exact science. Huge gains have been made in recent years to achieve consistent color from digital photography to computer-controlled press settings. But the end result is – by its nature – a compromise.

Realistic expectations means: a client understands that offset book printing involves just four colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK). A painting that is made with dozens of tubes of paint will lose some truthfulness when represented in a table book.

How do I get the most out of design and layout time?

We are heavily invested in the best and fastest computers. Our creative people are highly skilled technicians. A quotation for design and page layout is primarily based on the amount of text and images and the expected complexity. We also make certain assumptions about how efficiently the client has organized these materials. Book designers charge for their time. That is all they have to sell. There is no added revenue for them based on the success of their work. Realistic expectations means to understand that edits, new ideas or a change of heart will likely increase the cost of the design from the original quotation. It will also delay production.

Do you offer the most flexible production schedule ?

We try to meet your delivery expectations. Simply stated, it takes a considerable amount of time to print and bind a book of excellence. This has nothing to do with whether we can prioritize your book over the orders of other clients. There are a lot of interdependent steps in the manufacturing process. Adequate drying/curing time is essential to the final quality. It is in fact as important as putting the correct amount of ink on the paper.

Do you offer the best management of offshore printing

We print in Southeast Asia because the expertise and best equipment is available for coffee table book printing and binding. We can also offer the best prices there. Our expertise is unparalleled and our results are excellent. Some aspects, such as the lack of on-press checking, offer a challenge. A client with realistic expectations appreciates the challenges inherent in culture and language barriers and working across the continents.

Do you offer the best Ocean container service?

We cannot make the ocean container travel any faster than it does. We cannot update you when the books are traveling in a container ship to your final destination. We can expedite books by sending them airfreight, but this is very expensive. Realistic expectations means planning far enough in advance to allow for your book shipment to arrive in time for your big event.

Long before I have a commitment from you to print your coffee table book with Art Book Printing, I will make myself available to answer any and all questions you may have. I want to educate you as much as I can to get you off to a great start. Education is the key to realistic expectations. And when we have to say “no”, be assured it is a last resort.

What can we do to educate a client so his/her expectations are in line with reality? If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear about it!

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