Beware of Cross-grain Printing

February 2006
by Dan Poynter

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Some printers mismanufacture
books. Paper has a grain, just like wood. The paper in a book should have its
grain oriented vertically—top to bottom. If the paper’s grain is positioned
horizontally, the book will have a strange feel. It will not “roll” open and
will tend to snap shut. Your customers and bookstore browsers will not know
what the problem is, but they will sense that something is odd about your book.
It will make them uncomfortable. Which means you may lose sales.

 

What’s the problem? Presses are
designed to print books of certain sizes. Although 5.5? * 8.5? is exactly half
of 8.5? * 11?, one press should not be used to print both these trim sizes. If
the same press is used for both, the grain in one format will be 90 degrees
off.

 

Some book printers try to make do
by printing books in more than one size on one press because they have just one
press for text, but this does not produce acceptable books for their
publisher-customers.

 

Pick up a sheet of paper. Tear it.
Now turn it 90 degrees and tear it again. The tear will be cleaner with the
grain.

 

Pick up a book. Roll a page in
each direction with your fingers. You can usually tell which way the grain is.

 

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