With the Print-on-Demand process used by Lightning Source/IngramSpark, books are printed and manufactured in a one-off model using both automated and manual processes. Each book is manufactured in its entirety, every time an order is placed. Due to slight changes in production from day to day, variations in printing and manufacturing are a common occurrence. Likewise, submitted files that do not meet our recommended technical specifications can produce a printed product that differs from the digital file and/or eproof.
We make provisions for and indicate in our company documentation, that there may be up to a 1/16” shift or +/-0.1 color density variation on any book manufactured by Lightning Source/IngramSpark. Orders outsourced to other printers we have partnered with will also meet Lightning Source/IngramSpark print requirements and acceptable variations as described below.
Below is a list of the most common file-related and manufacturing variances.
If black fonts are printed too light this is often due to RGB or CMYK ‘black’ text. Black fonts will look light due to the presence of an ICC color profile. Using the default PDF/X-1a:2001 setting will address this issue.
Including a border in your cover or interior files makes any trim variation much more noticeable.
For cover art, we recommend at least .25” from the trim mark for perfect bound books. For Case Laminate hardcover books, we recommend at least .25” from the edge of the board. For interior pages, we recommend at least .50” from trim marks.
Images to close to the trim area may be cut off.
Print and trim variations are less noticeable in a book with a cover design that has an image or the same color that wraps from the front cover, across the spine, and onto the back cover. When we bind a cover, to avoid emphasizing the allowed variance of 1/16 inch (.0625” or 2 mm), we recommend that there be no borders, images or background color starting at or near the spine fold. Having different colors or images starting at the spine highlight any variance, even those within the stated tolerance.
A blank page is defined as totally absent of any content; this includes headers, footers, page numbers, and blank fields. Blank fields, which you can’t see, can be caused by pressing the space bar or not deleting all the blank spaces on the page. Lightning Source will automatically add blank pages when processing the files for a book, if necessary.
All books will have an even count of physical pages (starting with a right-side page and ending with a left side page). The final count of physical pages is a direct result of the title’s specific bind type, print type, and trim size.
All interior/text files for print books are processed and stored in our digital library and the page count must be divisible by two.
Pages that are added during the processing of the files are included in the book’s final page count and these additional pages will incur print fees. You can view the total/final page count for a book on the Title Detail page of your account.
The last page of the book, facing the inside back cover, must be completely blank for the barcode we add to that page, which allows us to match the interior book block with the book cover during the manufacturing process. We also add manufacturing and batch information to the same last page of the book, to help us investigate any production issues that may occur. Print fees are charged for this last page.
Due to the 1/16th inch (0.0625 in / 2 mm) production variance, cover and interior files submitted with specific positioning of content and/or design elements may shift from the originally intended placement. These may appear correct in the digital file and/or eproof but may shift during production. This includes, but is not limited to the list below:
- Margins less than the recommended 0.5 in (13mm)
- Outside borders that sit close to the trim/fold edges
- Page numbers that sit outside the recommended 0.5 in (13mm) safety
- Numbered or labeled tabs that sit outside the recommended 0.5 in (13mm) safety
- Text on spines with a spine width smaller than 0.35 in (9mm)
- Text on spines/covers that sit close to or extend past the safety edges
- Images or design elements that cross the interior gutter
- Images or design elements that sit close to the wrap area on dust jackets
and/or case laminate covers
- Cover designs with a different spine background color/image than the front and/or back cover
We recommend using the Cover Template Generator tool to assist in the cover file creation process and for uploading the cover file. The cover template tool should be used at the size/resolution it is received and includes areas that will fold (visibly and invisibly), areas that will be cut off, and areas that will be centered. The template displays bleed and safety areas, spine width, document size and it also provides a free barcode.
You can access the Cover Template Generator through this link or visit IngramSpark.com and click on RESOURCES>TOOLS or through the help section of your IngramSpark account.
The Lightning Source/IngramSpark cover template is a tool and with anything that is manually produced, there will be slight variations in the final product, which should not exceed a 1/16th-inch shift = 0.0625 in / 2 mm.
Case laminate covers can have the most variation between the template and the bound book. The case laminate cover template contains two areas that must be taken into consideration when designing the cover, the hinge (gutter) and the wrap. Case laminate cover templates display a 0.5 in / 13mm hinge area where the spine board is connected to the front and back cover boards. On the bound book, this area will be pliable and have a slight indention. Make sure there are no important design elements in the hinge area. Case laminate templates also indicate a 0.625 in / 15mm wrap area. This outer area wraps around the cover boards to the inside cover and the inside of the cover is covered with the white end sheets.
With these areas in mind, there are two ways to approach the case laminate cover design. One approach is to center the front cover from the spine edge to the outside edge of the cover board (including the hinge area). The other approach is to center the cover elements to the front cover boards (the pink safe area on the templates). This will center the cover elements on the front and back cover boards. The eproof and marketing image assumes this second approach and will only show the area within the boundaries of the cover boards. This is visually different than the bound book, which includes the hinge area.
Barcodes should be built to the following specifications to ensure successful processing: - black only (0 Cyan / 0 Magenta / 0 Yellow / 100 Black) - placed over a white box/background - vector graphic or high-quality rasterized barcode Barcodes are mandatory on all POD covers. Barcodes from the template can be moved, however, they should not be re-sized.
Barcodes that do not scan will either be rejected (Title Processing Error) or replaced.
IngramSpark requires all fonts to be embedded in print files. This ensures the look and placement of text on the page, and it is important for keeping the document fonts and layouts as intended.
Base 14 fonts are the common fonts installed as a part of the Adobe Acrobat installation.
- Times or Times New Roman - 4 versions*
- Helvetica or Arial- 4 versions
- Courier - 4 versions
- Zapf Dingbats
* (regular, bold, italic or oblique, and bold-italic of each)
Programs often default to the PDF setting 'Standard'; this setting does not automatically embed Base 14 fonts. Because these fonts are available in Acrobat Reader, it is assumed they will be available to any viewer, and embedding the fonts would add to the file size.
Because we are doing more than simply viewing the file (we are printing) it's important to choose a PDF setting that is intended for printing purposes. The preferred PDF setting to ensure the fonts are embedded (and to have a stable, print-ready PDF overall) is PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002. If you don't have this option available, the second recommendation is High-Quality Print.
Due to licensing and copyright restrictions, we do not have a font library, therefore, the publisher’s PDF files need to have the embedded font information to ensure a proper printing representation of the book cover or interior.
How to embed fonts will vary depending on the program you use.
If using Microsoft Word, the last tab in this program should be Adobe PDF. Select this tab, then select Change Conversion Settings. Once this opens, select the Settings tab, pull the Conversion Setting down to “High Quality”, then select OK.
Now create your PDF. (You should have three icons in your Word toolbar, click on the first one).
To ensure your fonts are embedded after you have created your PDF, open your PDF after you have successfully distilled it. Next select File, Document Properties, and then the Fonts tab. Next to each font name it should say Font Name (Embedded Subset). If any of the fonts do not have this next to the font name, it is not embedded.
If using Photoshop or InDesign, the fonts will be embedded when a PDF is created. Unless it is a free font that doesn't come with printing rights.
Bleed refers to the 1/8th inch (0.125 in or 3mm) portion of the background image or color that extends past the trim edge in a cover or interior file (except for the case bound cover). A PDF file submitted without the full 1/8th inch (0.125 in/3mm) bleed will result in an inconsistent white border.
Bleed should only be added to the top, bottom, and outside edge of the PDF file.
Bleed added to the gutter edge may cause the page content to shift unintentionally. We do not accept files with bleed on the binding side of the page.
Please ensure that the PDF file submitted contains the appropriate amount of bleed as some programs will show the bleed in the original document, but unless intentionally added, it will not be included in the PDF.
EPROOF: The Lightning Source/IngramSpark eproof crops interior pages to the trim size, so a PDF file submitted without bleed will not be noticeable in the eproof.
Submit color files in CMYK mode, without the use of ICC profiles. Files submitted in RGB or with an ICC profile may appear as intended in the digital file and/or eproof, however, once converted to CMYK, the colors may appear washed out or muddy.
Submit files for black and white printing in Grayscale mode, without the use of ICC profiles. The text should be 100% Black (C-0, M-0, Y-0, K-100) and images should be grayscale. Images that are not converted and exported properly, may appear as black and white in the digital file, however, when reviewed in Acrobat, they are in CMYK or RGB mode. Color text, graphics, or images, including CMYK/RGB images that appear visually black and white, may print darker or different than intended.
Overprint Fill is a setting in most graphic design programs used to tell a printer when one graphic element should print “over” another graphic element. Some graphic design programs, such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, set 100% Black to overprint by default. It’s assumed that 100% black will be used for black text and in most instances, should overprint.
Overprint Fill can become a problem, when 100% black is used for design elements set over other elements or when light-colored text/graphics, that sit over a darker color, are inadvertently set to overprint. Graphic elements inadvertently set to overprint fill may appear correct in the digital file or eproof, but will appear different when printed.
Files containing low-quality text or images may appear crisp when viewed digitally, especially when viewed at 100%. However, when printed and viewed on paper, low-quality text or images can be more detectable.
This message means you have uploaded your interior file where the cover file should be uploaded or vice versa. To ensure your book prints correctly, you may resubmit the files in their proper locations on the file upload page.
If you have concerns or questions about the look of your book, please email a photo of the book to the support team for review.
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