What is Newsprint?
Newsprint is an inexpensive
grade of paper used primarily for printing newspapers,
although it’s also a common stock used for comic books,
trade publications, directories, classified magazines and
the like. It is absorbent, not particularly bright (slightly
yellowish), and due to its highly acidic nature, it becomes
brittle and decomposes quickly. Newsprint is made by mechanically
grinding up wood into paper pulp for the paper-making machine
(Fourdriner machine) rather than chemically liquefying the
wood into pulp. It is cheaper to produce than any other
paper that is able to withstand the rigors of offset printing.
Newsprint comes in various
weights and usually is not printed on the same presses used
for higher grades of paper, although the process
is the same (non-heatset web offset printing). In fact,
newsprint used for newspapers is printed on non-heatset
web presses specifically dedicated to this process and able
to handle the tabloid size, multiple pages, and folding
requirements of newspapers. Instead of having multiple color
units one after the other in a line, their color units are
often stacked, so the press is vertical rather than horizontal.
Newsprint is also referred
to as groundwood stock (since the wood is ground
up rather than pulverized chemically). Ink printed on newsprint
spreads as it is absorbed. Halftone dots in particular spread
and become larger. Hence, the line screens used for halftone
images need to be coarse (85-line, for instance, rather
than the 175-line screens and above used for coated stock).
When you look closely at a halftone on newsprint you will
see that the dots of the halftone are far more visible than
the dots of a halftone printed in a brochure or book. Were
the screens any less coarse, they would plug up and the
printed product would be unacceptable.
Sometimes you just need to
produce a soft-cover book that will lay flat on a table
and stay open. It might be a cookbook or a technical
manual to which someone is referring while using his or
her hands for another task. You can’t usually make
a perfect-bound book lay flat without breaking the spine.
So what do you do? You produce a book with a lay-flat binding.
Most books are either perfect
bound or case bound, and one might say that lay-flat binding
is very similar to case binding, with the main
difference being that a lay-flat bound book has a paper
cover rather than a hard cover. A hard-cover dictionary
would be an example of case binding, and a paperback dictionary
would be an example of perfect binding. In a hard-cover
book, the pages are attached to a liner (a strip of fabric
covering the spine and extending forward beyond the first
page and backward beyond the last page of the book). The
edges of the liner are then attached to the front and back
of the case but not the spine. (This is true most of the
time, although there are some tight-bound, case-bound books
with liners actually glued to the spine of the case.) As
you open a case-bound book, the signatures move away from
the spine, allowing the entire book to lie flat when it
is opened. In contrast to this, the pages of a perfect-bound
book are actually attached to the spine of the paper cover.
Therefore, the book does not lie flat when open. Only by
breaking the spine (forcibly folding it open) can you make
the book lay flat. Obviously, this wouldn’t work for
a cookbook or computer manual.
In a lay-flat-bound book, the
signatures are gathered and stacked (as with both a case-bound
and a perfect-bound book), but the pages are then glued
to a liner (just like a case-bound book but unlike
a perfect-bound book). The liner is attached to the front
and back of the paper book cover but not attached to the
spine. When you open a lay-flat-bound book, it will lay
flat without your needing to fold back the spine. One might
say that a lay-flat-bound book is just like a case-bound
book with a soft cover.
When I first saw a book of this kind,
I expected it to eventually fall apart. It looked flimsy.
Over the years, I have learned that these books are more
durable than they look.
This binding option is good for products
too thick for plastic coil binding. It also avoids the higher
cost of GBC binding (a binding medium consisting of a plastic
comb inserted through pre-punched holes in the book pages
and allowed to curl into a cylindrical spine not unlike
a large, flat plastic coil).
What is an AA?
If your print vendor makes a
mistake (let’s say he or she is typesetting an invitation
for you and makes a typo), this is called a PE (or printer
error), and the printer absorbs the cost when the bill is
prepared. If you provide typeset copy in the preformatted
brochure you send on CD or via FTP and then see a typo when
the digital blueline arrives, it is called an AA (author’s
alteration), and YOU pay the extra cost when the bill arrives.
[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.]