Paper and the Environment: Part 2
Given the ubiquity of computers, consider
producing an electronic-only publication. Of course, in
many cases this will not be acceptable. Sales literature,
for instance, has a far greater appeal when you can hold
it in your hands and turn the pages. Most books would also
be inappropriate for this medium until we can comfortably
take a computer to the beach. However, a publication such
as an automotive catalog would be an ideal candidate for
electronic publishing. The search capabilities of PDF files
could greatly simplify the process of culling through vast
amounts of dry material for specific information. In addition,
postage—as well as trees—can be saved by not
mailing these catalogs to all your customers. Another publication
well suited for electronic-only format would be a manual.
For instance, many software manufacturers publish their
computer manuals only on CD. The reader can print out those
pages relevant to the task at hand after searching for the
precise information needed using the “search”or
One thing to keep in mind is that offset
printing and electronic publishing need not compete. Your
sales literature can point a prospective buyer toward your
website or to an electronic version of a publication. The
website can offer to mail customers a hard-copy volume if
they prefer; such a book could be digitally printed upon
request in loose-leaf or bound form. Or, a customer could
simply download the book onto his or her own computer and
then print out sections as needed. Tracking the number of
books downloaded or requested in digital form can help a
publisher decide whether to continue to produce copies digitally
one at a time or to pay for a long press run of offset-printed
Producing a publication a copy at a
time as it is purchased is called printing on demand. This
approach saves warehousing space, since there is no inventory.
(After all, each unit is produced only after it has been
requested.) In addition, printing on demand allows the publisher
to update the book at regular intervals prior to printing
customer copies. Old copies never need to be destroyed before
printing an updated version. In fact, a publisher can even
tailor publications to fit each group of customers, varying
the content to match the interests of the group. Such an
approach combines the concepts of targeting, one-to-one
marketing, and versioning, and is a major benefit of digital
printing. Offset printing produces duplicates of one master
copy; digital printing, on the other hand, allows the publisher
to alter or update one or more copies within a press run.
Tabs, Wafer Seals Vs. Fugitive Glue
To allow folded brochures to pass through
U.S. Post Office processing machinery (which will save on
postage), tab- or wafer-seals have been required for years.
These sealing devices are available in clear and opaque
versions, in paper and plastic, with and without perforations.
However, they all run the risk of tearing the brochure when
An alternative you might consider for
sealing your folded brochures prior to mailing is “fugitive
glue.” Resembling rubber cement, this tacky substance
can be machine applied or affixed by hand as positionable
dots of glue. When recipients open the brochure, they can
easily rub the glue off, leaving an unmarred surface.
Design your insert after you choose
an appropriate envelope size. To do the reverse, and request
an off-size envelope to fit an insert, can be costly. Standard
sizes are always cheaper and more readily available from
When determining measurements, designers
tend to “crowd” the insert. Leave 1/4"
on either side of your insert (i.e., make sure the envelope
is 1/2" longer than the long dimension of your insert).
Leaving 1/4" between the top of the insert and the
opening of the envelope should provide adequate space along
this dimension. However, if your insert is thick, leave
more space than usual. If it is very thin, you can usually
get away with 1/8” leeway on all sides. It’s
always best to make an accurate mock-up and try it out before
All envelopes must be rectangular.
Non-standard shapes are usually not mailable (there are
some exceptions to this rule, although irregular shapes
cannot be machine processed). Check with your postal representative
to determine the proper aspect ratio (ratio of length to
height) for envelopes.
Deciding whether to use “open
end” (flap on the short dimension) or “open
side” (flap on the long dimension) envelopes can be
tricky. If your mailing materials will be inserted into
the envelopes by machine, choose open side. If your materials
will be hand inserted, you can choose either option.
[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]