I recently went on an excellent adventure of cooking with Mike Bernstein and Aaron Quint from Beats Rye Types. We took much pride in creating and designing The Pizza Book. We needed to ensure that we gave it the love it deserved when making it from pixels to paper. Going back to print design after years of digital design was a welcome challenge.
Early on in the Kickstarter campaign a certain Frits Kouwenhoven from Hemlock Printers backed our project and reached out. We had evaluated a few printers to get an idea of cost so that we were able to price the book correctly. After a very successful Kickstarter campaign raising $50,000, we started talking about working together. Hemlock Printers printed beautiful premium magazines and books, and had the capability to warehouse and fulfill our books.
There was much discussion among the authors (Aaron and Mike), the printer, and myself on what kind of printed book this was going to be. Hardcover? Softcover? Flaps? Dust covers? There are many options, and all of them have significant timeline and pricing implications. This post breaks down all the different decisions that went into printing The Pizza Book a book!
What size do we make this book? We had no idea at first. It should be easy to read, substantial, and relatively cost effective to print and make. Go too large, and you incur extra printing and shipping costs, plus complicate the demands of photography for the book. There were some nice efficiencies by going with a very usual 8.5" x 11". That dimension created nine pages per signature sheet (or form as they are now called) which saved us some money since we didn't need to purchase larger form sheet sizes from the distributor.
We wanted the images of pizzas to look tasty on the page. So we went with 80lb Lynx Opaque Text FSC mixed. We also decided not to coat each page with a varnish. While it would have protected the pages, it would not have been the book feel was aimed for. The Lynx is not super opaque, but we felt confident enough that the UV printing would not require the extra opacity a standard offset would require.
Digital? Off-set? UV? There are more options than you think now. It was clear - we were investing in good paper and a good printer, so we wanted the best-looking pizza on the page. Ultra Violet offset is what we went for. It ended up printing on a Heidelberg Speedmaster. UV printing flash dries the ink with UV light, keeping the pigment at the very top of the paper, resulting in a brighter more dynamic appearance. Also, tasty looking pizza images!
Aaron and Mike wanted to create a hardcover book so that we would all have something nice to give to our mothers. A hardcover added $11k to the cost. While lovely, I thought we would be able to produce a better book experience with a varnished softcover book with flaps. Turned flaps on the front and back cover give us the weight and substance of a serious cookbook.
We ended up printing on 15 pt Carolina Cover Stock with flood satin UV varnish. The UV varnish is applied on the same print run which saved us a bunch of money. The idea with the spine was to create a distinct visual while on the shelf. We entertained using tape and silk screening the detail on there, but again the costs were too much. Frits from Hemlock was awesome at working with us to find the most cost-effective cover solution.
The Process of Printing
I have not been on a press check since I was 17 years old...so it was nerve-racking at first. Mostly they start up the giant press that sounds like a train, and you pull sheets off the top to review. You need to approve the form or make adjustments quickly. You can't make too many changes, or printing will take forever, and you will have wasted lots of paper. At the same time, you are looking to produce the best quality book you can...a tricky, delicate dance.
Every 20 minutes another form is ready for you to approve and you go back and forth from the client lounge to the press. Repeat for 10 hours for two days.