Fool-proof proofing for art books is an essential process

Fool-Proof Proofing for Art Books – An Essential Proofing Process

We have a multi-step, fool-proof proofing process to ensure your art book not just meets, but exceeds all your expectations.

Every book project eventually reaches that pivotal moment when all design and pre-press is signed off on, plates are made and presses get green light to start printing. Expensive virgin-white paper is finally transformed into the pages of your art book.

Our quality control teams, both in Grand Rapids and in Shenzhen, adhere to an extremely strict system to assure everything is exactly correct at this critical time. Nothing is left to change.

We want our clients to be engaged in their art book proofing process and we also insist they make all critical decisions from the options we present.

Here is a summary of our proofing process. I have marked which steps are essential (included in the base price) as well as some special options we offer.

1. Book prototype (“white dummy”) (included/essential)
When an agreement is reached on the scope and the budget of the project, we make a complete white prototype of the book we will eventually produce. It is an excellent tool for a client to see and feel the book as a three-dimensional object.

2. PDF and laser proofs during design (included/essential)
If your art book is designed in our studio, even for the minutest changes you are offered a PDF proof. We also offer laser-printed page proofs upon request.

3. Printer proof (included*/essential)
A full color Epson proof, output in our plant and FedEx’d to you, is our tool to predict how the images will appear on the final printed page. If you do not love the proof, we do not continue. We very accurately represent the color with these proofs, however, they are produced using special toners, not offset inks. A complete proof of every page, the cover and jacket is included in the base pricing.

*Alterations to text or images requiring a new proof constitutes additional charges.

4. Wet proofing (optional)
If a clients wants to see exactly what the images will look like on the paper selected for printing, we can do a so-called wet proof. These proofs are made on an actual printing press on the actual paper (or can be tested on a selection of papers). Cost for wet proofs is not included in our base price. The cost is $100 per page with a minimum of 6 pages ($600.00). This does not include special inks. We recommend wet proofing if the design includes printing on paper that is not in our standard offering.

5. Test stamping on hard covers (optional)
Some clients are concerned about the cover fabric and how the foil or embossing they selected will look on the final cover. Especially if the design has fine detail we recommend ordering a prototype of the cover with the requested stamping on the actual fabric. Your investment is $175.00 for this service, but it will take the guesswork out of it.

6. Advance copies (included)
When the book is completed, we send three copies to the client before packaging the book for ocean shipment. This is the standard procedure. This is more a courtesy than a proof because the books are completed at this time.

7. Unbound book block (optional)
A client can request that we advance an unbound book block. All pages are finished printing and the covers are made, but the book is not yet bound at this time. This step causes delay and we do not encourage it. Any changes at this time are extremely expensive as it will require re-printing.

8. On-press proofing
It is possible for a client to be on site at our plant in Shenzhen, China, at the time of printing. While this is the very best way to make the color your own, it is usually cost-prohibitive to travel such a distance.

Selections that cannot be proofed

The outcome of some design decisions cannot be accurately predicted except with a wet proof. For example, our proofing equipment can only simulate solid Pantone® colors. Metallic inks are popular but cannot be proofed. Printing on a transparent flyleaf cannot be proofed with any accuracy except by wet proof.

We often send a client samples from our library with similar specifications. Pantone® , the industry standard for color, offers several color guides. All Pantone colors are available in printing inks. It is challenging to envision color from a small swatch, but experienced designers can be trusted with these decisions.


Some clients want to be closely involved in this process. Others leave much up to our quality control experts. Either way, when you receive that first final copy, you can be assured every possible step is taken to assure accuracy. The journey of creating a book is wonderful, but we allow no shortcuts when it comes to quality control.

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