Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 139 / APRIL 1992 / PAGE 74

Real desktop publishing. (Column)
by Robert Bixby

Last month we took a practical look at putting together one of the simpler desktop publishing projects--a brief saddle-stiched booklet often called a chapbook in literary circles. This same inexpensive design is perfect for advertising material, catalogs, self-help booklets, instruction manuals, recipe books, and so on. The simplicity of the binding is what makes it so attractive. There is no more professional-looking binding that can be had for such a low cost.

I have all of my printing done by photocopying at Kinko's, a nationwide chain of copy shops. If you have a college or university in your town, you're likely to have a Kinko's, too. But there are many lesser-known companies that provide the same services. Though your pricing will probably vary, I've found that folding costs $0.03 per fold. If a book is 40 pages long, that means I've used ten sheets of paper and the folding will cost $0.30 per book. Stapling costs $0.05 per staple, or $0.10 per book. When you fold a saddle-stitched book in half, the inner pages--the ones nearest the center--will poke out a short distance from the ones nearer the cover. (Take a dozen sheets of paper and fold them in half to see what I mean.) Many people can live with this irregularity, but for a professional look, I prefer to have the edges trimmed, which costs $0.50 per book. For a grand total of $1.35 per book, you'll turn ten sheets of paper into a professional-looking bound volume.

If I have one complaint about Kinko's, it has to do with the limited paper selection. If you don't like the dozen or so types and colors of bond paper available, you'd be better off going to a printer instead of a copy shop, but you'll pay more for everything.

There are even less expensive ways to do things. A saddle-stitche stapler only costs about $50, for example. If you intend to do 500 or more books, it will pay for itself in the savings over having the copy shop staple your books for you. You can also fold your books by hand, but my experience in this area has been that hand folding is a hit-or-miss affair. You'll often find yourself making a crooked fold. Trimming is one thing you won't be able to do adequarely at home without a large investment in machinery.

So far we've talked a great deal about the production aspects of your publication: getting it on paper and binding it. But before you walk through the front door of the copy shop, you should make sure that your booklet is perfect. This involves more than simply proofreading it carefully. It also means that you need to work on the design.

Last month we talked about getting the body of the text on paper, but if you open a book--even a simple chapbook--you'll find that there's more to a book than its body. There's a cover, usually with the title and authro on the right side (the front is on the right when the cover lies flat) and the blurbs, author bio, price, ISBN, and author photo on the left side.

You might want to have a blank sheet just inside the cover, or to save weight and money, you might want to have the inside front cover next. This will list the title of the book and the author, and if you are starting a publishing company, you might want to put your colophon on this page. A colophon is a symbol, like the little house Random House uses or Knopf's borzoi. I usually put the copyright page right on the back of the inise front cover, but many people would prefer to leave the back of this page blank. Other pages that you might want to put in the front include a table of contents (which should begin on a right page), a table of figures, acknowledgements, and a dedication (which should appear on a right page).

If you have a book whose design you admire, use it as a guide. If not, invest in the Chicago Manual of Style, which has guidelines for putting a book together, as well as hundreds of pages of detailed instructions on formatting and proofreading.

So far, I haven't found a way to include color economically. Most copy shops with color copiers charge up to $2 per page for color copies. The technology has to come down in price before you can start mass-producing with it. For economical color, seek out a printer with a four-color press.