Re: Print on Demand

Subject: Re: Print on Demand
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995 07:09:40 PST

>7x9 is a handy size when you are printing large quantities because the
>paper you print on comes in large sheets (28x36 or a little bigger, I
>forget the exact numbers). When you print large quantities, you want to fit
>a "signature" of 16 pages (32 pages counting both sides) on one sheet and
>waste as little paper as possible. 7x9 does this, though the book may end
>up a little smaller after they trim the edges.

Signatures aren't automatically 16 pages; they're whatever number
of pages fit on the larger sheet. With saddle-stitching, the
signature has to be a multiple of four pages, but with perfect binding,
GBC binding, or three-hole punch, it can be any multiple of two pages.

Small pages don't necessarily save paper. Much paper-saving is done
by taking a manual in 8.5x11 and shrinking it to the new page size,
making it very difficult to read. But the same paper savings could
have been realized in 8.5x11 by setting it in seven-point type to
begin with.

When laying out manuals in small pages to begin with, you often use
MORE paper. Properly designed page margins don't shrink proportionally
with the page size, since part of their purpose is to hold up to handling,
make allowances for positioning inaccuracy in printing and binding,
and to keep the inside margins from going into the binding. These
considerations are largely independent of page size.

Also, diagrams and figures can't shrink proportionally and still be
legible -- nor can the text. So with half-sized pages you still have
full-sized text, and the diagrams occupy a larger proportion of a
page, making layout difficult.

When the dust clears, each copy occupies MORE square feet of paper than
the 8.5x11" edition, unless:

1. The 8.5x11" edition used enormous type (say, 14 point), and you
are correcting this, or

2. you put up with teeny-tiny type (say, 8 point) in the smaller-page
version, or

3. the 8.5x11" layout was so awful that you can recoup your losses.

But note that none of these problems actually have anything to do with
page size.

In short, you need to select page size according to the material that
goes onto the pages, and according to the realities of the printing
process du jour. Books that are mostly just words in a row can be
almost any size, but, with detailed illustrations such as schematics
(or even program listings), the material can't be presented well
in teeny-tiny pages. (While redrawing all the schematics and reformatting
all the program listings is possible, few of us have the budget. Fact
is, the engineering departments who generate this stuff usually print
them out on 8.5x11" sheets, and they aren't legible when reduced.)

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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