Saddle Stitch Books Plus Cover FAQ

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What does Plus Cover mean?

Plus Cover means that the cover of the booklet is printed on a different paper, usually of a heavier weight, than the rest of the pages. This provides a bit more structure to the book and can help keep the books upright if they are in a rack or just give a nicer feel in the hand. As well, with cover weight paper, additional finishing options like lamination and spot coating become available.

It is called “Plus Cover” due to how it is described when providing specifications or getting quotes. The number of inside pages is the variable factor because a cover portion is always one sheet (4 pages), so a page count would be described as, for example, “24 pages plus cover” for a total page count of 28 pages. When the cover is printed on a different paper, it is indicated as “Plus Cover” so the printer knows right away there are two different stocks required.

What are the advantages of Saddle Stitch Books Plus Cover?

  • It is the most cost-effect bindery method for booklets
  • As the process is almost entirely done inline on one machine, it is quicker than other styles of binding
  • Saddle Stitching is cost-effective for short runs as well as high volume runs
  • Having the cover on a different stock opens up the option to add additional finishing like lamination or spot coating
  • 3-hole punching at the spine can be added to allow the book to be inserted into a standard 3-ring binder
  • It allows for artwork or images that span two adjacent pages (crossover images)
  • Plus Cover books are still ideal for mailing projects, though the total mass of the piece will need to be taken into account when designing, as the added weight of the cover can reduce the number of inside pages possible while still remaining within the grammage allowances for the different postal rates

What is the minimum number of pages that can be Saddle-Stitched for a Plus Cover Book?

Saddle-Stitching requires the page count to be in multiples of four because there are 4 book pages printed on each sheet. As well, there need to be at least two sheets (8 pages) for the inside page portion of the book, so the minimum number would be 8 inside pages plus 4 covers pages, for a total of 12.

What is the maximum number of pages for a Saddle-Stitch Plus Cover Book?

For books with the inside pages printed on a lighter weight stock, in the 50-70lb range, the maximum page count would be 60 pages, plus the cover.

If a thicker paper is desired for the inside pages, such as 80 or 100lb, it is recommended to keep the page count below 36 inside pages, plus the cover.

The weight of the cover stock can also have an effect on the maximum page count, as a thick, heavy cover will reduce the number of inside pages that can be accommodated by the stitching machine. This is because the sheets are gathered on top of each other, stapled on the spine, and folded. If the spine is too thick, it will not fold nicely and can “bubble” open rather than laying flat.

Can a Saddle-Stitched Plus CoverBook have printing on its spine?

Even though the cover portion is done on thicker stock, there is still no room on the spine for printing.

Should the files for a Saddle Stitch Book Plus Cover be supplied in any specific way?

Files can be supplied as one PDF that contains the inside pages and one that contains the cover, or as a single file that has all of the pages in it. Either way, the file(s) should be exported directly from the design software as “Single Pages” instead of multi-page spreads (for example, a 5.5x8.5 book should be exported as 5.5x8.5 pages and not as 11x17 spreads that each has 2 pages)

As well, a minimum of .25” or 1/4” of safe margin is required for all booklets. This means that page numbers, images, text, and any important elements that are not intended to go right to the edge should be at least .25” away from the edges.

There can be natural variation in the cutting process, as the operator cannot guarantee that every booklet will be cut in exactly the same place. Secondly, a circumstance known as “Creep” can occur with saddle stitching, especially with thicker paper stocks. Creep is where the bulk of the paper at the spine due to the gathering of the sheets causes the inner pages to extend or “creep” further out than the cover when folded. Below is an exaggerated view of how the inner pages extend beyond the edge of the outer pages when folded (this is for illustrative purposes only, the actual amount of creep is usually between 0”-.125”, depending on paper weight and page count).