Postscript imposition, take II

Subject: Postscript imposition, take II
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 16:12:35 -0700

Kandis Weiner added additional qualifications to her request for
PostScript imposition software: <<We currently... [send] the PS files
outside to be printed and composed into saddle stitch books. The file
has to be composed (I think this is the term that is used) so that
page 1 and page 8 are on one side of the sheet, and page 2 and page 7
are on the other. ... I'm looking for a software that will do that
for us so that we can print these documents in house.>>

As I noted in my previous message, there's a broad range of special
_imposition_ ("stripping") software you can obtain for this purpose,
but you'll need to be aware that the problem becomes fairly complex
once you get beyond a few dozen pages. How long are the books you
plan to produce? If you're producing them in-house, can you produce a
professional-looking product, complete with cardstock covers and
nicely closed staples that align perfectly on the margin? This isn't
nearly so trivial as it appears to be at first glance; been there,
done that. Whenever people set about this sort of process, I always
recommend that they talk to their printer first. Sometimes it's
simpler, safer, and cheaper to let the pros handle the work.

Here's an example of how complex binding can become: last time, I
mentioned a problem called "binding creep", and here's how it works:
Let's assume (exaggeration) we're using paper with a thickness of 0.1
mm. Take 10 pages and fold them together and you'll see that the last
page is now sticking out beyond the edges of the first page by 1 mm,
which is quite noticeable. After 20 pages, the distance is 2 mm;
after 200 pages, it's 2 cm (almost an inch). Experts will chime in at
this point that you'd rarely saddle stitch something this long, and
would opt for perfect binding. Agreed. This is just an example! You
can certainly trim off the excess paper, but afterwards, that nice
1-inch margin you started with would be about 1/4 inch in size. So
imposition software must account for this by progressively shifting
the text portion of the page closer to the binding or by various
other tricks. There are other problems too, such as: How will you
trim the folded signatures to produce the final book ("guillotines"
are expensive and dangerous production tools)? Do you have a long
enough stapler to reach the center of the book (the saddle fold)? Who
will be doing the stapling if you have 1000 copies to produce?

I guess this brings me back to the question I should have asked
first: What problem are you trying to solve? If you're producing
simple, once per day "readme" books that are only 4 pages long, you
can probably hack the job yourself. If you're producing 48-page user
manuals in runs of 500, you almost certainly can't. (Trust me on this
one: I did that for several years with one report series before I
persuaded the powers that be that we'd be better off printing the
damn things professionally.) More details?
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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