Printing 101

As part of our mission here at PrintNinja, we seek to educate our customers not only about our company and what we can do, but about every aspect of printing and logistics. We try to be as transparent as possible about our entire process, to help you learn more about how we work and why.

Printing Academy

Welcome to PrintNinja’s Printing Academy!

At PrintNinja, we constantly strive to better our process and ourselves. We love learning more about all the cool things that we can achieve with offset printing. If you share the same passion for advancing your knowledge, here’s an intro guide to the entire offset printing process, complete with videos, photos and expertise from those in the printing business. Exploring the pages in our Printing Academy will help you learn more about the process – so you’ll be able to understand what’s happening when you get your project printed with us. And we think that’s pretty cool!

The pros and cons of offset and print-on-demand technology.
Intro to Offset: Meet the Press
The pros and cons of offset and print-on-demand technology.
All the steps that must be completed before your project is sent to the printing press.
PrePress
All the steps that must be completed before your project is sent to the printing press.
A look at each component that makes up a sheet-fed press and how they work together to print your project.
Press
A look at each component that makes up a sheet-fed press and how they work together to print your project.
Everything involved in creating your project's final form, from folding to cutting to binding.
Post-Press
Everything involved in creating your project's final form, from folding to cutting to binding.
How PrintNinja simplifies the complex processes involved in shipping books halfway around the world.
Logistics
How PrintNinja simplifies the complex processes involved in shipping books halfway around the world.
Offset Printing 202, for those ready to know it all.
Advanced Concepts
Offset Printing 202, for those ready to know it all.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Introduction to Offset Printing

This article serves as a basic introduction to offset printing.

Offset printing, also called lithography, uses a large printing press with a series of printing plates that transfer ink onto paper, which is then cut, folded, and bound to form a final product.

When you think of offset printing, think of the word transfer. Each step in this printing technique involves the transfer of images (text and art) from one material to the next. First, your images are digitally transferred onto a set of plates, which collect ink to transfer your images onto a rubber blanket that transfers images onto paper.

There are two primary types of offset printing, sheet-fed and web. The most common alternative to offset printing is known as digital or print-on-demand.

Sheet-Fed Offset

Sheet Feed Offset

PrintNinja uses sheet-fed presses. These machines use pre-cut sheets of paper, called parent sheets, that are fed through the printing press one sheet at a time. They are best used for short or mid-range runs (250 to 10,000 units).

Pros:

  • Highest quality printing
  • Wide range of specialty options
  • Low per-unit costs

Cons:

  • High set up costs
  • Medium minimum order sizes

Web Offset

Web Offset

Web offset printing presses use a roll of paper that is continuously fed through the printing press. They are far more complicated than sheet-fed presses and can be as large as an entire building. Web presses are used for high-volume printing (10,000+ units).

Pros:

  • Extremely low per-unit cost

Cons:

  • Extremely high set up costs
  • Large minimum order sizes
  • Lower quality than sheet-fed

Digital (POD)

Digital (POD)

Digital printing (also known as Print-On-Demand or POD) is not an offset printing method, but it’s a good one to understand. Digital printing uses equipment similar to a large home laser or inkjet printer. This approach is best used for small runs (1 to 150 units).

Pros:

  • No set up costs
  • No minimum orders

Cons:

  • High per-unit costs
  • Less consistency in color and quality
  • Fewer specialty options

What Can You Print with Offset

Offset printing can be used to print on paper, cardboard, plastic, and even chocolate! This printing method is a popular choice for card and board games, record jackets, and multi-page projects. Games and books follow the same printing process, but post-press is where the similiarties end.

Most of our Printing 101 resource pages focus on four-color sheet-fed offset printing since those are the machines used by PrintNinja’s factories. These presses use four colors of ink — cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) — to produce the vast majority of full-color projects printed worldwide.

4-Color Press Hedelberg Sheet-Fed

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

PrePress

In the pre-press production phase, an expert technician will review your files, manually and through preflight software, for any sign of a problem that may cause production errors. An electronic proof is issued once your PDF files pass the preflight inspection. We provide electronic proofing to all of our customers for free, and all projects go through the process, even if you’ve added hard copy proofing as well. When you receive your electronic proof via email, you may have suggestions from your prepress expert for changes that should be made to your files before sending them into production. You’ll also notice that printer’s marks have been added to your files. These are special marks to indicate different elements such as trim, bleed, and center. If requested, hard copy proofs (for books and games) may also be created and sent to you for approval, usually for color purposes.

Once you have approved your proof and sent your files to press, the next phase in pre-press production is that your files are output through a process called the RIP (raster image processing). During this part of the pre-press production process, your images are separated into four colors, and output onto four metal printing plates – one plate for each of the colors of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). These thin metal plates are sturdy enough to be used for many thousands of printing impressions, yet also flexible enough to wrap around a rotating cylinder inside the printing press:

Pre-Press Production Chapters:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Proofs

A proof is an electronic file or physical product meant to give an idea of the way your project will turn out when printed.

Electronic Proofs

Also known as a soft proof, most printers will provide electronic proofs for free because generating them is a necessary step that must be taken before printing. An electronic proof is done for any file that will be printed: interior pages, book cover, game board, game box, cards, instructions etc. A prepress expert will look over your files for a number of issues, usually putting them through pre-flight software to do computerized checks as well.

A few pre-flight fundamentals:

  • Image Resolution (300dpi minimum)
  • Color Profile (CMYK not RGB)
  • Inclusion of Bleed
  • Safe-Zone Issues
  • Pagination Issues

Prepress experts will double check that everything is accurate and may provide some suggestions if they find problems with your files. They’ll also typically add printer’s marks to indicate where the files will be trimmed, and then they’ll send the final file to you for your approval.

In general, electronic proofs are effective for double checking content, pagination, and layout. However, electronic proofs cannot accurately portray how colors will look when printed.

Printer's Marks Example and Definition Electronic Proof

Hard Copy Proofs – Books and Cards

Hard copy proofs, also known as physical proofs, are highly recommended for those who are printing offset for the first time, and for those who have specific color requirements. This option typically includes one or several press sheets of a project (usually 8 pages of content per press sheet), printed on an offset press using the actual paper and finishes to be used in the final product. Overall, physical proofs give a much more accurate feel for the way that color translates to the printed page.

Hardcopy Physical Book Proof Example

Hard Copy Proofing – Board Games

Hard copy proofs are not prototypes, although they can act as one. A prototype is typically your minimum viable product while a proof is a closer representation to your final product. Both terms are used interchangeably in the industry, but in our experience a prototype consistent of blank boards and cards printed on computer paper – the best way to start making your game. A hard copy proof is your full printed game and is used to judge your printer’s quality and material, again this can make a great advanced prototype for play testing, but is pricey for a prototype. Due to the complex process of offset game printing, some of your pieces will be printed digitally. Any component that is digitally printed will not be color accurate.

Hardcopy Physical Proof Board Game Example

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Printer’s Marks

Printer’s marks are special marks that are added to your PDF files and to the edge of your parent sheets to assist the offset printing press in proper alignment, trimming and color values. These printer’s marks are trimmed off once printing is complete.

Center Marks
Center Marks
Trim Line
Trim Line
Bleed
Bleed

Color Bars

Color bars, or color control strips, are printed in the trim area of a parent sheet. Press operators use the color bars to check for ink density, overprinting, grey balance and more. Color bars are so efficient that they can reveal issues with ink hue, rubber blanket, and impression cylinder miscues.

Printer's Marks Color Bar on Proof CMYK Offset Printing

Registration

Registration is the process of precisely lining up cyan, magenta, yellow, and black printing plates so that their overlap produces the full color spectrum. Registration marks (crosshairs) are added to your PDF files and your plates. As printing takes place, the pressman makes sure that both sets of registration marks line up, adjusting their alignment as needed. Once all four colors are printed, the crosshair should be a solid black circle otherwise the press operator will know the job isn’t being printed correctly and will make more adjustments. Without registration, your images can appear blurred, as the four colors may not line up and will exhibit the ‘ghosting’ that you often see in newspaper color photos (since the large web presses used to print newspapers frequently have registration issues).

Printer's Marks Registration Example

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Imposition and Pagination

Imposition is the arrangement of individual pages or cards onto press sheets, also known as parent sheets. Our press operators use imposition software to translate PDF files into a format and layout that can be engraved onto printing plates that will be installed into the offset press.

Book Printing Layout

The most common layout has 8 pages per side of a parent sheet, meaning each parent sheet will have 16 total pages when printed on both sides. Small-format projects (6″ x 9″, for example) may have 16 pages per side of a parent sheet, and large-format projects (larger than 9″ x 12″) may only have 4 pages per side.

Below you can see how a typical 16-page section of a book is laid out for printing. This parent sheet will be folded to the size of the final project, and this grouping of pages is known as a signature. Don’t worry! You don’t need to submit your art files in this format. PrintNinja will figure out the proper pagination to ensure that all pages are printed, folded, and bound in the correct order.

Playing Card Printing Layout

Playing cards are similar to books in that there’s an optimal card count for each card size and card stock. Card stock (Blue Core, Black Core, Coreless) parent sheets come in different sizes, which affect how many cards can fit on one sheet. Of course, different card sizes (Poker, Tarot, Square, Mini) will fit differently on each parent sheet. The smaller your cards, the more you can fit on one sheet.

Press Check & Pagination

After imposition, each full parent sheet is printed with a large-format proof printer. These high-end printers produce reliable colors that press experts use to color-match against the offset printed sheets.

The operator will also use this sheet to check for pagination, or the order of pages, by folding the parent sheet to final-product size. This process confirms that all the pages will be printed in the proper order and that they will appear right-side up when bound together. Although most printers use computer systems to automate pagination, sometimes a press operator will override the computer to manually adjust the pagination as needed.

Page Count Explained

For most books, your page count has to be a multiple of four. The easiest way to understand this is to find a piece of paper and fold it in half three times. Each time you make a crease, you increase your page count by four. This folded sheet is how your pages will be inserted and bound into your book as a unit.

There are just a few exceptions to this rule. Board books, spiral bound books, and wire bound books use different binding methods, so they simply require your page count to be a multiple of two.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Manufacturing Printing Plates

How are printing plates made?

After Imposition, each parent-sheet-sized art file is split out into 4 separate files, one for each color of ink: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). From there, each separated file is laser-engraved onto its own plate to be installed into the printing press.

These thin metal plates are sturdy enough to be used for many thousands of impressions, yet also flexible enough to wrap around a rotating cylinder inside the printing press:

Printing Plate Manufactured and Ready for Ink

Don’t be fooled by the color: the coating on printing plates is blue, but this has no bearing on the color of ink the plate will apply.

In the past, many printers used a photographic process to create printing plates, but these days most modern print shops use large Computer-To-Plate (CTP) machines like the one pictured here:

Computer-To-Plate Technology for Offset Printing Image Setter

First, a coated thermal plate is inserted into the CTP image setter (large compartment to the right in the photo above), where lasers are used to output the image by heating areas of the plate to different degrees depending on how much ink each area should collect. The plate rolls out of the laser compartment and moves through a special cleaning solution that washes away the heated parts of the coating, leaving a negative of the image.

Watch how your plate is rinsed to reveal your images.

Remember, each parent sheet actually needs 4 plates, one for each color of ink to be applied. Below are 4 used printing plates that were just uninstalled from the press after being used to print a full-color parent sheet. It can be tricky to see which colors of ink are which due to the underlying blue color of the plates, but from left to right you can see the Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, and Black plates used on this job.

All Four Offset Printing Plates For Each CMYK Color

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Press

What is a press run, and what does it entail?

Prepress is finally complete. Proofs have been approved, imposition and pagination have been done, and the printing plates have been manufactured. Now it’s time for the next step: the press run. Here, sheets of paper are fed through the press while the plates transfer ink from the rollers to rubber cylinders, and then to the paper itself. This two-step process is why this printing process is called “offset.”

Most offset printing presses function similarly, but the quality of the final product depends on a number of factors – perhaps most importantly, a certified team of press operators and quality control specialists. That’s why we make sure you’re aware of the quality assurance steps our vendors take: there are many quality control checkpoints throughout the entire process from file and production prepress to printing and binding. Perhaps the most vital is checking parent sheets as they’re coming off of the press. Press operators will randomly cross-reference printed sheets with a previously printed proof to confirm color accuracy, making sure that quality stays high throughout the entire print run and that the colors and registration aren’t drifting away from where they need to be as the run progresses.

Press Run Chapters:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Ink

How is printing ink used?

Black Ink in Offset Press Ink Fountain with Roller

Now that we’ve covered paper, the other main ingredient we need for the offset printing process is ink! Most full-color offset printing uses 4 colors of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black), applied separately via 4 separate printing plates, to produce millions of colors. This ink makes its way down from the ink reservoir (known as a fountain) onto the printing plate, then onto the rubber blanket, and finally onto the paper itself. The photo below shows four ink fountains on a 4 color press machine.

Four Ink Fountain on 4 Color Press Machine

Ink Fountain

If you look down at an offset press from above, you’ll see four ink fountains: one for each color of ink. Each of these fountains sits at the top of an assembly containing a cylinder that will hold the printing plate and one that will hold the rubber blanket.

Water Solution

Each fountain also has a reservoir of a water-based liquid known as fountain solution. This water solution is rolled onto the printing plate to repel the ink from the areas that will become white space on paper.

Roller

The roller distributes ink onto the plate in an even, controlled manner, creating consistent ink coverage for the entire plate.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Paper and Cardstock

The whole printing process begins with paper. Paper comes in a variety of weights and finishes, and every printing company offers different options depending on their paper suppliers and presses. You’ll find the widest variety of paper options when working with offset printers because operators are able to calibrate the press based on thickness and coatings. On the other hand, digital printers used for print-on-demand have a limited amount of paper options.

Parent Sheet Size

Parent sheets are large pre-cut pieces of paper, typically designed to fit 4-16 pages of a project on each side or 55 poker cards. They come in many weights and are often pre-coated with gloss or matte.

One of the major factors in the cost of a printing project is how many parent sheets will be used, which is why certain standard sizes (8.5″x11″, 6″x9″, 9″x12″) and page counts (multiples of 16) are usually the most cost-effective choices since they can maximize the parent sheets used.

Printed Parent Sheet

Paper Weight

Paper weight refers to a particular thickness of paper stock. There are many different weight classifications, including text, cover, index, bond, bristol and more, as well as the metric system classification of grams per square meter. When comparing within a specific classification of paper, a lighter weight indicates a thinner paper.

Text is a classification of paper most commonly used for the interiors of books. Text stocks are usually measured in pounds (noted lb. or #)
Text
Text is a classification of paper most commonly used for the interiors of books. Text stocks are usually measured in pounds (noted lb. or #)
Cover is a thicker classification of paper most commonly used for book covers, measured in points (noted pt.) and sometimes in pounds (noted lb.)
Cover
Cover is a thicker classification of paper most commonly used for book covers, measured in points (noted pt.) and sometimes in pounds (noted lb.)
GSM (grams per square meter) is the metric system's universal measure for paper weight and can be converted into lb. and pt. For example, 80 GSM is 55 lb. text and 350 GSM is 14pt. cover. Typically used to describe card paper.
GSM
GSM (grams per square meter) is the metric system's universal measure for paper weight and can be converted into lb. and pt. For example, 80 GSM is 55 lb. text and 350 GSM is 14pt. cover. Typically used to describe card paper.

Make sure to include both weight and classification when comparing paper stocks, especially when comparing quotes from different countries. For example, many US printers may give you a quote for “80lb cover” which is much heavier than “80lb text”. If you’re not sure where to begin, you can always use our industry standards pages to help with your decision.

Card Stock

The GSM (grams per square meter) measurement mentioned in the paper weight section above, applies often to playing cardstock. The higher the number (300gsm, 310gsm, 330gsm, 350gsm) the thicker the card stock. When selecting a paper weight for your playing cards you need to also consider the core, the material placed in-between the two pieces of paper that make up your card (i.e. 300gsm Blue Core, 330gsm Black Core).

Playing Card Stock and Cores What Does a Card Core Do?

The job of the core is to make your card less transparent and more durable. From lowest quality to highest the cores range from coreless, grey, white, blue, and black. Many card printers use different terms to explain the cores, so be wary of the name and request a sample when possible. You can determine a cards core by ripping the card in half, the core color should be visible.

Selecting a Card Core

Most often board game creators will select a coreless cardstock since their cards will not be handled frequently. On the other hand, our card game creators lean towards blue and black core since their games revolve around cards, which are often held in players hands the entire game.

Paper Coating

Coating is applied during the paper manufacturing process. Coating affects the way that inks are absorbed by the paper, making halftone dots and text stay sharp. Any paper weight can have a coating, and which coating to choose is largely a creative decision. Here are the three most popular options:

Gloss coating gives a deliberate shine that causes colors to pop. This coating is very reflective.
Gloss
Gloss coating gives a deliberate shine that causes colors to pop. This coating is very reflective.
Matte coating provides a more subtle shine, sometimes also referred to as semi-gloss or dull. There is less light reflection than with gloss, and the reflection is more diffused.
Matte
Matte coating provides a more subtle shine, sometimes also referred to as semi-gloss or dull. There is less light reflection than with gloss, and the reflection is more diffused.
As it sounds, no coating is applied to uncoated paper. Uncoated paper is rough to the touch, and perfect for projects that need to be written on such as workbooks. However, it also has less protection from everyday dirt compared to coated paper.
Uncoated
As it sounds, no coating is applied to uncoated paper. Uncoated paper is rough to the touch, and perfect for projects that need to be written on such as workbooks. However, it also has less protection from everyday dirt compared to coated paper.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Press Setup

How is an offset printing press setup?

PrintNinja’s custom printing includes a detailed setup to achieve the best results in creating your book, calendar, comic or other product. For your general knowledge and convenience, each step in printing your custom project is detailed below.

Cleaning the Press

First things first, the press must be cleaned from its last use. All printing plates must be uninstalled, and all cylinders, fountains and rollers are cleaned to ensure the next parent sheet has a fresh setup. It is important these three pieces are clean so the alignment is not thrown off by dirt.

Offset Press Setup Cleaning Ink Fountain

Installing the Plates

Four plates are clamped onto cylinders inside the press. One plate is used for each color: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). Each time a new parent sheet needs printing, four new plates must be mounted into the press. The cost and time involved in these installations is what makes offset printing impractical for small runs.

Calibrating the Press

The press operator adjusts the press’ output using calibration software. The press operator will adjust the color control using levels, curves and other tools to produce the right color density. Paper thickness and coating are calculated in the software, with the absorption of ink taken into account.

The press runs at a slow speed so the initial sheets can be carefully checked for alignment and color against the press operator’s proof. The operator can then make adjustments to the press as needed. Once there is a proper amount of ink density on the paper, the press speed is increased to full production.

Offset Press Setup Printed Sheet and Proof

Ready to get started?

PrintNinja can print books, playing cards, board games, calendars, puzzles, and more. Whether you’re ready to print or just starting to budget your project, it’s always a great time to check out our instant price calculator. You can even lock in your price for 90 days!

See Project Types

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Press Check

What is a press check?

Most offset printing presses function similarly, but the quality of the final product depends on a number of factors – perhaps most importantly, a certified team of press operators and quality control specialists. Most printing facilities will have a Quality Assurance department responsible for inspecting all printed parent sheets during the press run, monitoring the final product for defects, and flagging any issues early on in order to deter waste.

On-Site Press Check

Quality Press Check

There are many quality control checkpoints throughout the entire process from file and production prepress to printing and binding. Perhaps the most vital is checking parent sheets as they’re coming off of the press.

Press operators will randomly cross reference printed sheets with a previously printed proof to confirm color accuracy, making sure that quality stays high throughout the entire print run and that the colors and registration aren’t drifting away from where they need to be as the run progresses.

Game Quality Control

Printed game pieces (game boards, cards, tokens etc.) follow the same quality control measures as books from prepress to pulling printed sheets off the press.

Card game assembly has a few extra steps to ensure consistency. Operators will insert blank pages in-between the full printed card game sheets. When blank cards appear, this signals to operators that the deck they are assembling is ending and a new deck is starting. Each deck once assembled in their packaging is then weighted to make sure a card is not missing or vice versa there’s no extra card.

Game pieces we use have passed safety tests. However, if you need paperwork to present to a retailer or distributor that proves your game is safe to sell then you’ll have to re-run the safety test on your specific game as a whole.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Printing

What happens in the printing process?

We’ve met all of the pieces: the plates, the paper, the ink, and the cylinders. The press has been cleaned and calibrated, and the plates have been installed. Now it’s time to see a four-color sheet-fed offset press in action printing 8 pages of a real project! Each parent sheet zips through and is printed with 4 colors of ink all in a row, coming out the other end fully printed.

As you can see, this part of the printing process happens very quickly – but don’t worry, quality assurance is still in place during this step. Most printing facilities will have a Quality Assurance department responsible for inspecting all printed parent sheets during the press run, monitoring the final product for defects, and flagging any issues early on in order to deter waste. The quality control team follows the standards set by the printing facility, who ultimately decides the quality the product is required to meet. These quality assurance experts will sign off on color, bindery, and press runs by testing your product at random, during different steps of the process.

Watch parent sheets go from blank to fully printed in a matter of seconds in the video below:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Cylinders

What are the cylinders used in the printing process and how do they work?

Printing Press Parts Cylinders Process

If you look inside the four compartments of the press that hold the ink fountains you will see something similar to the diagram at the right. Each of those four assemblies is made up of many moving cylinders, which are intrinsic to the offset, or lithographic, printing process.

Plate Cylinder

The printing plate – embedded with your file images – is wrapped around the plate cylinder and rotates while water and ink are distributed onto it’s surface. The plate transfers ink to the rubber blanket, which is wrapped around the offset cylinder.

Rubber Blanket / Offset Cylinder

The offset cylinder is home to the rubber blanket that receives ink from the plate above. This cylinder rotates until the rubber blanket makes contact with a parent sheet moving along the conveyor belt, transferring the ink onto it.

Impression Cylinder

The impression cylinder sits directly underneath the rubber blanket
and applies pressure to the paper – moving inbetween both cylinders –
at the same time as the paper is absorbing ink from the blanket.

Offset Printing Process Lithography Rubber Blanket Plate and Impression Cylinder

Inside the Press

This is the inside of one press compartment. The top cylinder is the plate that has already been rolled with water and ink from above. The plate rotates and transfers ink to the rubber blanket, the blue cylinder. The final cylinder, impression cylinder, on the bottom applies pressure to the paper as it passes under the blanket.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Post-Press

Post-press is everything that takes place after your pages have been printed on parent sheets – and it ends up that “everything” is quite a bit! Books are folded, cut, and bound into your final project before they are ready to be shipped to your front doorstep. For the pre-press of board and card games, cards get trimmed, smoothed, and rounded. Game boxes are printed and constructed, and then all the components are assembled and packaged to create your final product. That’s a lot of things that happen when the printing process is done!

The following articles will teach you more about just what happens in post-press. You’ll learn about folding signiatures, collation sorting, and cover paper finishing. You’ll also learn about on-site quality assurance, book drying methods, and card game production. Read on to become a post-press pro! Of course, if you have any more questions about the post-press process, feel free to contact us: we’re always happy to take questions about what happens after the pre-press and press stages of your printed project’s life but before you recieve your final product.

Post-Press Chapters:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Folding Signatures

This article will teach you about folding signatures and how they are involved in the offset printing process.

Once the printing is complete, the stacks of fully-printed and dried parent sheets are taken to be folded by the folding machine. Each parent sheet zooms through the machine one at a time entering into gates that are set to the proper fold size. A final fold is applied by a heavy arm – this is called the knife fold – which applies immense pressure on the fold line. The final project rolls out of the machine as a “signature.” The majority of projects are folded by these machines, although extremely large projects or those with unique requirements may occasionally be required to be folded by hand.

Watch parent sheets fly through a folding machine and finish as a signature:

Signatures

The folded groups of pages that emerge from the folding machine are called signatures. Most projects have signatures of 16 pages (8 pages on each side of the parent sheet), but projects 6″ x 9″ or smaller may have signatures of 32 pages, and projects larger than 9″ x 12″ may only have 8 pages per signature.

Parent Sheets Folded into Signature Machine

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Collation/Sorting

The collation process starts with parent sheets being folded into signatures.

Parent sheets are large pre-cut pieces of paper, typically designed to fit 4-16 pages of a project on each side or 55 poker cards. They come in many weights and are often pre-coated with gloss or matte.One of the major factors in the cost of a printing project is how many parent sheets will be used, which is why certain standard sizes (8.5″x11″, 6″x9″, 9″x12″) and page counts (multiples of 16) are usually the most cost-effective choices since they can maximize the parent sheets used.

Once the printing is complete, the stacks of fully-printed and dried parent sheets are taken to be folded by the folding machine. Each parent sheet zooms through the machine one at a time entering into gates that are set to the proper fold size. A final fold is applied by a heavy arm, called the knife fold, that applies pressure on the fold line. The final project rolls out of the machine as a signature. The majority of projects are folded by these machines, although extremely large projects or those with unique requirements may occasionally be folded by hand.

Finally, the stacks of signatures are taken to the collation machine, which collates the separate signatures into their proper page order. The resulting new stacks of ordered signatures are now called book blocks.

Watch the Collation machine stack signatures in page order to make book blocks.

Collation machines like the one pictured below are large enough to handle books with many hundreds of pages, but books with only two or three signatures can also be collated by hand.

Collation Machine for Sorting Signatures into Book Bodies in Page Order

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Finish

This article will explain how finish is applied to your cover paper.

The printing process is almost complete. Your book block is now finally ready to be bound, but before binding can happen, the parent sheet that will become your cover needs to have a finish applied to protect it. Finishes can be gloss (high-shine) or matte (low-shine), and come in two distinct types: varnish and lamination.

A varnish is a liquid finish applied on the printing press to your cover paper following the same process as if it were an ink. The varnish style usually matches the coating of your paper (gloss or matte) and protects the ink on your cover. If you choose matte varnish, you can add spot UV to make select parts of your cover matte.

Lamination is the most protective card finish. Lamination is a thin polypropylene film that is applied after the printing process is complete. As seen in the video at the bottom of this page, a lamination machine glues a roll of film onto the printed parent sheet to produce the desired effect.

On rare occasion, you may opt to skip the cover finish. This provides a raw look and feel, but it’s important to note that it provides no protection, leaving your cover more susceptible to damage. If you want a matte finish, we recommend adding a matte varnish instead of opting to skip the cover finish.

Watch a matte lamination finish being applied to cover paper

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Binding Process

This article includes links that will teach you more about the binding process and the difference in binding styles.

The pieces are all in place. The body pages are folded into a book block, and the cover page has had its specialty finish applied. At this point in your project’s lifespan, we’re finally ready to enter the binding process.

Depending on which binding method you have chosen, binding can be as simple as adding a couple of staples, or it can be a complex process involving sewing machines, gluing machines, hardcover cases, and more. There are three popular binding methods: saddle-stitched (stapled), perfect (softcover), or casebound (hardcover). Each of these methods has it’s own pros and cons. Read on to learn the difference in process between each binding method – the more you know about each one, the better you’ll be able to determine which one is right for your printing project with PrintNinja.

There are also other methods of binding such as spiral binding, wire binding, and a special process for board books. For more information on these less common binding types visit our advanced concepts section.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Saddle-Stitched Binding

This article will teach you about the saddle-stitch binding process and how it impacts your printed project.

Saddle stitching is definitely the simplest form of binding: two staples are inserted into the spine, holding all of the pages together. It’s a much more straighforward process than hardcover/casebound or perfect-bound/softcover book binding!

As the first step in the process, the cover and book block are collated, with signatures placed one inside the other. Most saddle-stitched projects contain 3 or fewer signatures so that there aren’t more pages than the staples can handle – this is why saddle-stitching is an especially popular binding method for comic books: they have fewer pages than, say, a novel.

Next, the collated pages are put through a stitching machine for stapling. The pages are draped across either side of a “saddle” – hence “saddle-stitched” – belt that runs along the entire machine, and the V-shaped belt helps align all the pages at the central fold for a symmetirc binding. The project then moves down the line and staples are inserted at the crease.

Finally, the stapled project is trimmed down to its final size in a guillotine, leaving you with a great looking saddle-stitched project.

Saddle-Stitched Binding Machine Stapler Stitcher

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Perfect (Softcover) Binding

The perfect binding process, commonly referred to as softcover binding, results in a book with a glued binding and a squared-off spine.

Smyth Sewing

PrintNinja’s perfect binding process, the collated signatures of the book block are sewn together using the smyth sewing technique. Smyth sewing uses thread to first sew through the folds of each signature and then sew the entire group of signatures (book block) together, resulting in a durable binding that can be opened relatively wide – a great option if you have any pages with continuous spreads.

Note
Traditional perfect binding involves cutting the signatures off at the fold instead of sewing them, resulting in a much less durable binding, with much more content lost in the gutter between pages

Gluing

Smyth Sewn Signatures Being Glued Softcover Perfect Bound

Next, a tech will place the sewn book block into a clamp that tightly holds the body together while it moves through the binding process. First, glue is applied to the spine and run through a heating process, after which the cover is wrapped around the book block.

Trimming

Finally, the bound books are trimmed down to size using a special cutting machine that trims all 3 edges in the same process.

Watch a short clip of softcover books being trimmed

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Casebound (Hardcover) Binding

This article will teach you about the hardcover and casebound binding project.

Casebinding, commonly referred to as hardcover binding, involves the construction of an exterior case made of cardboard wrapped with paper. Casebinding is a more complicated process compared to other typical types of binding, but your book is safe in PrintNinja’s expert hands.

Case Construction

The first step in casebinding is the construction of the hardcover, also known as the case. First, sheets of cardboard are cut to their proper size to form the rigid skeleton of the cover. From there, printed and finished cover sheets are fed into one end of a case manufacturing machine, while the pre-cut cardboard is fed into the other, and the two are combined through several gluing and folding operations into the final case.

Smyth Sewing

Next, the collated signatures of the book block are sewn together using the smyth sewing technique. Smyth sewing uses thread to first sew through the folds of each signature and then sew the entire group of signatures, (also known as the book block) together, resulting in a durable binding that can be opened very wide.

Trimming

Next, the sewn book blocks are trimmed down to size. With some softcover books, this happens after the cover is applied, but because the hardcover case is larger than the book block, in casebinding the trimming step happens before the book block is glued into the case.

Gluing

Finally, the finished book blocks and cases are placed into a hardcover binding machine where they are glued together into a completed casebound book. First, the sewn book block has glue applied to its spine, and a piece of fabric (called the super) is placed on top of the glue. Farther down the line, the hardcover case is wrapped around the book block. At this point, books with 60 pages or more will also have endsheets added to hold the entire book together.

Ready to get started?

PrintNinja’s hardcover book calculator makes it easy to take the next step in creating your hardcover book. Our calculator is pre-populated with popular options, but you can customize just about anything. You can also save your quote for 90 days, so it’s no problem if you’re not quite ready to print yet.

Get Your Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Quality Assurance

On-site Quality Assurance Offset Printing Facility

Most printing facilities will have a Quality Assurance department responsible for inspecting all printed parent sheets during the press run, monitoring the final product for defects, and flagging any issues early on in order to deter waste.

Book Quality Control

The quality control team follows the standards set by the printing facility, who ultimately decides the quality the product is required to meet. These quality assurance experts will sign off on color, bindery, and press runs by testing your product at random, during different steps of the process.

Game Quality Control

Printed game pieces (game boards, cards, tokens etc.) follow the same quality control measures as books from prepress to pulling printed sheets off the press.

Card game assembly has a few extra steps to ensure consistency. Operators will insert blank pages in-between the full printed card game sheets. When blank cards appear, this signals to operators that the deck they are assembling is ending and a new deck is starting. Each deck once assembled in their packaging is then weighted to make sure a card is not missing or vice versa there’s no extra card.

Game pieces we use have passed safety tests. However, if you need paperwork to present to a retailer or distributor that proves your game is safe to sell then you’ll have to re-run the safety test on your specific game as a whole.

Drying

This article will teach you more about the final step in the process of printing your book: the drying.

The final step in the offset printing process is to dry out your bound books. As you see below, all printed books are compactly stacked on top of each other using that pressure to halt pages from warping. This step is especially crucial for hard cover books; due to the moisture added in gluing and lamination, these covers are prone to curving if there’s no pressure to keep them flat while they dry. Book drying may seem like a boring part of the process as opposed to, say, hot foil stamping, but it’s actually a very crucial part of making your book or other printed project both look great and stay durable.

Many printers will have a designated drying room with controlled temperature and humidity settings to ensure consistency in drying. This insures that if you have multiple runs of books, they’ll be consistent in appearance and durability.

With book drying and the end of your printing process comes exciting news – after your project is done drying, it’s time to think about shipping, storage, and fulfillment of your project!

Books Drying Offset Printing Process

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Card Game Production

This article will teach you about the process of card game production.

Once both the cards and tuck boxes have been printed onto parent sheets, they are ready to be cut, assembled, and packaged together.

Trimming Cards

The playing card parent sheets are fed one at a time through a calibrated trimming machine. As the sheet makes each turn, blades cut out strips of cards until each card is cut out and stacked in a deck.

Die Cutting Boxes

A tuck box’s unique shape requires the die-cut method to extract the box and it’s unique flaps from the parent sheet. Die-cutting requires an operator to form blades to the box’s shape and use heavy pressure to cut out the design, as seen in the video below.

Smoothing and Rounding Cards

The trimming machine leaves rough edges around the perimeter of the cards and square corners. To shape them, an operator pushes stacks of cards through a “smooth edge machine” installed with the appropriate die size. The pressure of the cards being pushed through the dies leaves the edges smooth and rounds the corners at the same time. Most playing cards have rounded corners to prevent the corners from being damaged; however, some creators do request square corners.


Linen Texture Roller

Adding Linen Texture Finish

Linen texture is a specialty finish that adds a tactile crosshair texture. Bicycle branded playing cards are known to have this linen finish. The texture is applied after your cards are printed on a parent sheet and before they are cut to size.

The printed sheet is forced under a heavy metal roller with the crosshair pattern. The weight of the cylinder applies it’s marks to the printed paper. These sheets are then trimmed to size and put through the rounded corner machine.


Assembling Card Games

Assembling Cards into Tuck Boxes

When all the pieces are printed and cut, all that’s left is to assemble them together. Cards are organized on parent sheets in the order that they are to be assembled into each box, so collation is taking place at the same time they are being trimmed.

The cards arrive at the assembly line in crates with each deck completed and separated. Tuck boxes are folded to form and have a glue dot applied to the bottom flap for extra durability. Cards are then placed inside and sealed.


Shrink-wrapping Final Product

Shrink-wrapping Card Game

Most card games will be shrink wrapped for added protection from theft and dirt. This is a necessary step if you plan to sell your game to retailers, who require your games to be delivered in shrink wrap and sometimes even with hang tags applied.

A shrink wrap machine works in three steps:

  1. The operator wraps the box in plastic shrink film.
  2. The film is sealed by a heavy clamp on the machine, with a straight seam line.
  3. The machine applies heat to the film that release the cold air out of tiny holes, causing the film to shrink to the shape of the box.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Logistics

This article explains some of the complex process of international shipping logistics.

International trade can be an incredibly complex endeavor. Not only do you have to arrange to get goods from one country to another via some combination of ocean, air, truck, and rail, you’ve got to be familiar with all of the trade regulations and laws that affect commerce between the two (or more) countries in question. You’ve also got to be able to communicate with your counterparties in the other country, doing business across language barriers which may range from mildly confusing to impenetrable. Finally, participants in international trade don’t benefit from many of the legal protections that domestic consumers take for granted, leaving the buyer exposed to potentially catastrophic loss if something goes wrong, even if it’s not their fault. But, when you print with PrintNinja, you can rest assured that we’re taking care of all the logistics for you, from the factory to your front door. We communicate daily with our team in China, so you can feel confident that your printing project is being treated with the utmost respect.

International Shipping Logistics Chapters:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Air Shipping

Air shipping is the fastest mode of transportation available, but that speed comes with a hefty price tag.

Shipments that are sent from China to the US via air typically take approximately one week to arrive, much less time than ocean shipping, which takes approximately six weeks to get finished goods from the factory to your door. For an additional charge, air shipping time can often be cut down even further and a guaranteed delivery date can be hit, which is never the case with ocean shipments.

Air Shipping Process Expedited International

Air shipping is the most direct shipping pathway. Once the goods are finished, export documentation and paperwork are submitted, and the goods are delivered to the carrier’s warehouse. From there, they’re loaded onto a plane and flown to the airport closest to their final destination, where they go through import customs. After clearance, they’re taken to the carrier’s local warehouse and dispatched via one of the carrier’s trucks for delivery.

Small air shipments (under 50kg) go through a much faster and simpler customs process, removing one potential obstacle in the logistics timeline. Larger shipments (over 50kg) have to go through a more extensive customs process, similar to ocean shipping.

PrintNinja offers partial expediting services, meaning you can send some small portion of your goods using expensive, fast air shipping, while the bulk of your order travels via more cost-effective, slower ocean shipping.

We also have a Premium Expedited option that can bring the 1-week expedited turnaround down to about 3 days. These shipments must be custom quoted and your timeline must be confirmed with your account manager before your order is placed.

Ocean Shipping

Ocean shipping is the most cost-effective way to get goods around the world, as goods are packed into standardized shipping containers and loaded onto mega-sized container ships. It can take a long time, and the delivery dates can’t be guaranteed, but the process is so efficient that thousands of pounds of goods can be moved tens of thousands of miles for relatively low cost. Let’s walk through the various steps involved in getting a typical ocean shipment from a foreign factory to your door:

Ocean Shipping Standard Shipping International Ocean Liner

Export Customs

Once your goods are finished, the exporter files paperwork and pays documentation fees to get them ready for export. Once this documentation is filed, the goods are trucked from the factory to a shipping warehouse for consolidation into a shipping container.

Shipping Containers

At the shipping warehouse, your goods are loaded into a shipping container. Shipping containers are gigantic steel boxes that are most commonly 8 feet tall, 8 feed wide, and either 40 or 20 feet long. Because these containers are so standardized, they can be loaded and unloaded very efficiently onto oceangoing container ships. Once the container is full, it is sealed and delivered to a bonded customs warehouse for export.

Container for Ocean Liner Being Loaded with Packages

Ocean Liner

Next, the shipping container with your goods in it is loaded onto an ocean liner known as a container ship with thousands of other similar containers, and the ship makes the ocean journey from the country of export to the country of import, where the containers will be unloaded. Modern container ships are so gigantic that they can only dock at a handful of deepwater ports across the world that are equipped to handle their size, making the ports a very scarce resource. This has made labor relations very difficult at these ports, and slowdowns and strikes have happened every few years when union contracts have come up for renegotiation.

Import Customs

Once the container has been unloaded from the ocean liner, it goes through customs in the destination country. This is the most unpredictable stage of ocean transport, as containers are occasionally flagged for a random inspection, adding anywhere from a few days to a few weeks of delay depending on the type of inspection. Once customs have been cleared, the container is delivered to the ground shipping warehouse.

Ground Shipping

At the ground shipping warehouse, the contents of the shipping container are separated, labeled, and shipped out via truck to their final destinations. This is the first step of the process where reliable tracking information is available, as most ocean carriers do not provide the type of high-quality tracking information that many people are used to receiving from UPS, FedEx, or their domestic mail service.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Customs, Duties, and Taxes

Read on to learn more about how PrintNinja works with customs policies.

The complexity of handling customs, duties, and taxes on any given international shipment depends on the laws and trade agreements in place between the exporting and importing countries. Countries with free trade agreements can make such transactions much simpler, while duties and tarriffs are often in place to intentionally make it harder for certain types of goods to be imported/exported economically.

Customs

Every country has an agency that handles customs and imports. In the United States it’s US Customs and Border Protection, and in China it’s the General Administration of Customs. These agencies are responsible for regulating all shipments into and out of their parent country, enforcing their countries’ trade laws and customs policies, and collecting all applicable duties and taxes.

Duties and Taxes

Duty fees are based on the contents of your shipment and any applicable duties in place on that type of product. Depending on the two countries in question, some goods may be imported duty-free, while others may be subject to steep fees. In some countries a VAT(Value-added Tax) or GST(Goods and Service Tax) is also assessed at various rates, depending on the product being imported.

Forklift Loading Truck with Packages

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Storage and Fulfillment

Read this article to learn more about your storage and fulfillment options once your project with us is printed.

You’ve made it through order placement, production, and international logistics, and your project has finally arrived at your door. So, what to do with the pallets of books that just landed in your driveway?

Do It Yourself

Some folks like to handle everything themselves: warehousing, fulfillment, inventory, tracking and shipping for day-to-day orders, not to mention providing customer service via email or phone. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going this route, but be sure not to underestimate just how much work DIY storage and fulfillment is, how much space it requires, and how much additional cost it adds.

Third Party Warehousing / Fulfillment

The other option is to use a third party warehousing and fulfillment service. The most popular is Amazon, through their FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) program. There are also many independent warehousing and fulfillment companies (PrintNinja offers this service as well), which will store your books and ship them out on an as-needed basis.

Warehouse for Storage and Fulfillment of Your Product

Remember that many third party warehousing and fulfillment companies have huge economies of scale. Their warehouses are so advanced and their freight rates so low that in many cases you can actually save money by going with a third party service.

What the Inside of a Package Looks like Before Shipping

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Advanced Concepts

The links in this section will help you learn advanced concepts about offset printing.

advanced prepress  knowledge

PrePress

Learn about the difference between CMYK and RGB, color variance, and pantone/spot color.


 press

Press

Learn about what manufacturing variance is and how it impacts your order.


board book binding

Post-Press

Learn about board book binding, spiral/wire binding, and safety testing your project.


Advanced Specialty Features

Specialty Features

Learn about all the specialty features we offer, like foil stamping and spot UV, embossing and debossing, and the cloth/PU leather process. Also learn about endsheets, the die cutting process, and newsprint.


Advanced Distribution

Distribution

Learn everything you need to know about getting your project out in the world, like ISBN/barcode requirements, copyright information, library placement, and pricing fluctuations.

After you’ve learned about all of these advanced concepts, you’ll be totally ready to understand the process of offset printing your project with PrintNinja. Have any other questions that aren’t addressed here? Feel free to contact us and our customer service team will be happy to help you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

CMYK Printing vs RGB Advanced Explanation

RGB vs CMYK Advanced Color Printing Explanation

So, what is CMYK printing?

Without a doubt the single biggest issue we run into here at PrintNinja arises from confusion about CMYK and RGB.

We address this briefly in our PrintNinja Printing Color Guide, but you’ve reached the advanced version so now it’s time to dig a little bit deeper into the physics behind these two methods of creating color, and explain why it can be so frustrating to try and convert between the two.

RGB Colors of Light Illustration

PrintNinja Tip
RGB creates colors by blending the three primary colors of light: Red, Green, and Blue. It is used by devices that generate light, such as computer monitors, TVs, or LCD screens.

RGB Color Profiles

RGB is known as an ‘additive’ color profile, because you add the primary colors of light together to create new colors:

Green and Blue light combine to make Cyan

Blue and Red light combine to make Magenta

Red and Green light combine to make Yellow

Red, Green, and Blue light combine to make White

RGB has a very wide color gamut, meaning it can produce many colors, because RGB is actually how our eyes perceive color.  We have 3 different kinds of ‘cone’ cells located in our retinas, one each for perceiving Red, Green, and Blue light, and our brain combines the signals these cells receive and interprets them as color.

The key thing to remember about RGB color is that RGB can only be used by devices that generate light.

Printed items obviously don’t generate light, they can only reflect the light that hits them.  Thus, they need to use a different color scheme, one based on reflecting light instead of producing it.  This is where CMYK comes into play.

CMYK Full Color Illustration

PrintNinja Tip
CMYK creates colors by blending four colors of ink: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK (also known as Key). It is used to print in full color on items that reflect light but do not generate it, such as paper and fabric.

CMYK Color Profiles

CMYK is known as a ‘subtractive’ color profile, because each ink removes a primary color of light from any white light that hits it:

Cyan ink reflects Green and Blue light, but not Red

Magenta ink reflects Blue and Red light, but not Green

Yellow ink reflects Red and Green light, but not Blue

This gives us a backwards way to reflect the three primary colors of light via subtraction:

Cyan and Magenta ink combine to only reflect Blue light

Magenta and Yellow ink combine to only reflect Red light

Yellow and Cyan ink combine to only reflect Green light

Starting with a white piece of paper, which reflects every color of light, we can use Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow inks to subtract specific colors of light to make a wide gamut of colors.

Theoretically, combining Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow ink makes black, but because inks are not perfectly aligned to our RGB vision, we also add blacK ink (Key), which reflects no light, to help provide darker tones and truer blacks.

RGB CMYK Color Conversion Gamut Comparison

Issue with Converting RGB to CMYK

Because the CMYK profile is forced to subtract light instead of generate it, it cannot produce anywhere near as wide a spectrum of colors as RGB. Especially vivid primary light colors such as pure Red, Green, and Blue will often appear muted or dulled upon conversion to CMYK.

The illustration to the left compares the gamut of colors achievable with several different RGB profiles vs. the much smaller gamut achievable with CMYK.

This is why many creators who work primarily on computers and tablets, and whose work is most often viewed on computers and tablets, (such as webcomics creators) are often disappointed when they see how their colors look after being converted from RGB to CMYK.

This is also why CMYK can be converted to RGB and reproduced fairly accurately on a computer screen (which is what is physically happening when you set your color mode to CMYK in your graphics program), but RGB cannot be converted to CMYK and reproduced accurately on the printed page (which is what happens when you open an RGB image and hit “print” on your computer).

Photoshop InDesign Color Picker Out-of-Gaumt Warning

How to Stay in the CMYK Gamut

If you are using Photoshop or InDesign look out for the ‘out-of-gamut’ warning icon (triangle with exclamation point) that pops up in your color picker tool. This tells you that the selected color will not print accurately using CMYK production, offset printing.

Sometimes the program will suggest the closest color within the gamut. Otherwise, for best offset printing results check out this illustrated guide of CMYK values. If you must use the out-of-gamut color, then we suggest printing it as a Pantone color.

How to Work with RGB and CMYK Profiles

Now that you know the differences between CMYK and RGB, the question arises: what is the best way to work?

The answer largely depends on your primary medium.  If you’re creating work solely for print, like a flyer or printed program, you’re probably best starting in CMYK and staying there, since your work will never be viewed on a computer screen by anyone but you.

However, if you work in a medium that is primarily digital (like webcomics), working in CMYK to begin with will really limit the colors you have at your disposal, which for most creators is overly restricting.

In many cases, the best strategy is to work in RGB, then before printing, convert your files to CMYK and make adjustments from there to any colors that have shifted in undesirable ways.

Check out PrintNinja’s guide to converting your colors from RGB to CMYK.

Remember, you can’t physically achieve the exact look of your RGB colors using CMYK values, but if you get your colors looking the way you want them in CMYK mode, you’re going to have a much better idea of what your final printed product will actually look like.

Here’s a helpful guide of known CMYK values that produce vibrant results.

So that’s the long story! Remember, PrintNinja also has pre-press experts that review your files, so if you have more questions, you can always give us a call.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Color Variance

This article is about color variance in the offset printing process.

Due to the complex nature of reproducing a full spectrum of colors by blending 4 colors of ink (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black), all 4-color printing is subject to some small degree of color variance. This means that specific colors may look slightly different from the beginning of a run to the end of the run, and differences become more pronouned between different runs.

4-color offset presses are able to reproduce colors far more consistently than digital or print-on-demand presses, but the blending of inks means that there will always be some variance. This variance is most noticeable between different runs of the same project, as in the photo below:

Example of Color Variance in Offset Printing

For individual colors that need to be exactly the same every time (e.g. a corporate logo), the color can be guaranteed by the use of a spot color ink. In this process, instead of using 4 separate colors of inks applied by 4 printing plates, the liquid ink is mixed separately until it exactly matches the desired color, after which it’s applied via a separate printing plate designed to apply only this single color. The specific color to be matched is most commonly specified using the Pantone Color Matching System.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Pantone Spot Color

This article gives a detailed explanation Pantone spot color.

Sometimes, a specific color must be reproduced exactly the same every time it is printed (for example, a corporate logo). If that color were created through the standard application of 4 separate colors of ink (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) during the 4-color printing process, it would exhibit very slight color variance between different print runs.

The only way to make sure a specific color looks exactly the same every time it is printed is to use what is known as a spot color. When using a spot color, the ink is pre-mixed to match the specified color, and is applied via its own printing plate. The most common way of specifying the exact color to be matched is by using the Pantone Color Matching System:

Pantone Spot Color Swatches

Because these colors can be made on their own without needing to consist of just Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the color range of Pantone inks is far wider than the standard CMYK gamut, and it can include specialty inks such as metallic or fluorescent colors. Pantone colors are usually indicated by referring to their code: for example PMS 3245 is a bright, seafoam green.

Using spot colors always adds significant cost to an order, since they require prepress, printing plate manufacturing, press setup, and a press run for the extra color of ink to be applied. Metallic and specialty inks are also more expensive than standard 4 color process inks. However, when you need an exact color for branded materials like logos, or a specialty color that can’t be created by CMYK, they’re a great option.

Manufacturing Variance

Learn what manufacturing variance is and why it’s important to understand when printing your project with PrintNinja.

Sheet-fed offset printing quality can’t be beat, but as with any mechanical process, printing, trimming, and binding all exhibit miniscule variances (usually under 1mm) from piece to piece. This is why projects need bleed, for example, so that a cutting variance of 1mm won’t leave unsightly unprinted edges showing. While it’s impossible to avoid, we take all the steps we possible can to make sure your project ends up looking great. It’s also why we include a free overrun – if there are any manufacturing variances you deem too severe, you can discard tem and still be left with the same amount as your original run.

The most obvious and common manufacturing variances can be seen with specialty options such as embossing, debossing, hot foil stamping, and spot UV.

Watch the process of debossing a book cover:

It is difficult to get a spot UV, for example, placed exactly on top of your cover title without some pieces showing a millimeter of variance. It’s not extremely noticeable, but next time you are in your local bookstore take a close look at a few of the titles. Can you spot the variance?

Manufacturing variance with a Spot UV showing slight overlap

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Board Book Binding

This article explains the process of board book binding.

Board books are books with pages that are each made of thick paperboard rather than thin paper stock. This binding is perfect for children’s books, since the paperboard makes the book durable enough to survive a lot of hands-on attention from small children, while the thick paperboard also makes it easy for little fingers to turn pages without assistance. Most board books also use rounded corners to prevent paper cuts.

Board Book Binding

The board book binding methodology is not actually technically “binding” at all. Each set of 2 pages is printed, cut, and then glued by hand to blank paperboard. From there, each set of 2 pages is glued together one at a time. Finally, The cover paper is wrapped and glued around the body. Board books traditionally use a laminated finished on all pages, to increase durability and protect them from the intense handling they usually receive when in use.

Because these books are assembled by hand 2 pages at a time, they do not follow the standard page count multiple of 4 rule. Instead your final page count can be an increment of 2.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Wire and Spiral Binding

This article will teach you about the process of creating wire and spiral binding. Read on to expand your knowledge about this type of binding!

Example of Wire Binding

For the process of creating wire or spiral binding, the book block is first trimmed on all four sides. Then, holes are drilled along one side and the pages are secured by either a wire that is clamped through the holes or a spiral that is threaded through the holes.

Because projects using this type of binding do not have to be stapled or sewn through the fold, they do not follow the standard page count multiple of 4 rule. Instead your final page count can be an increment of 2. That is great news if you have a project that has a page count that isn’t a multiple of 4!

This type of binding is most often used for calendars, cookbooks, and activity/workbooks. For all of these types of projects, the wire and spiral binding makes it possible for them to lay flat when open against a surface like a desk, floor, or wall. If you’re printing a project like this, than wire binding might be the right type of binding for you.

Example of Spiral Binding

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Safety Testing

Tubes Used for Safety Tests

Safety testing for books is a certification requirement that rises from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The act was intended to make sure that products sold in the US were free from harmful materials. PrintNinja offers safety testing services through third-party labs based in Hong Kong. We offer the service for books as well as for games.

Safety testing for books is most commonly required when your book or game is targeted to a young demographic, especially when connected with anticipated distribution through a book retailer. Our board book printing customers, for instance, often submit samples for testing.

Games – especially those targeted to children under 13 years of age – will likely require additional testing or certifications. Games often use small pieces – dice, small tokens, even custom miniatures – that present choking hazards to young children. If you want to market a game to children, you may need to test to additional US standards so that your game is considered safe. Without testing, games can only be labeled for ages 13 and up. (It’s clearly better to design with the tests in mind, because it’s very expensive to fail a test for a game piece that you have tooled up and purchase many thousands of before you get into testing!)

If you are targeting distribution in Europe for books or games, you may also want additional safety tests to verify that your game meets all CE marking requirements.

All of that said – we have never had a product fail a safety test. The likelihood that a printed book would fail a test is quite low. The materials that are used in printing today simply aren’t the kind of materials that are subject to contamination from lead, phtalates, or other dangerous compounds.

The attachment below is an example of the output of a safety testing for books request that we performed in 2017. The test was for a board book, and the output is representative of the output that satisfies insurance companies and distribution partners.

 

Sample pdf of toxicity testing results.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Endsheets

Endsheets, or endleaves, of a book refer to the pages at the beginning and end of hardcover books. They are typically made of a thicker stock that fortifies hardcover books and adds durability. Endsheets are printed as a two-sheet spread. One side of the spread is glued down on the inside back and inside front cover of your book.The other half of the sheet becomes the first and last page of your book. These pages are typically printed with a solid color or a pattern, but can be a great place for information, like the maps found on the Tolkien series.

Example of a Printed Endsheet

Hardcover Book Without Endsheets

When Endsheets Aren’t Needed

Hardcover books under 60 pages don’t typically use traditional endsheets. Instead, the first and last inside pages are glued to the hardcover case and the first and last pages of your book are part of the book body.


Fabric Used in Hard Cover Binding and Endsheets

Fabric and Endsheets

Hardcover books are also reinforced with fabric, known as the super. The super is glued to the spine during the binding process to strengthen the spine and prevent pages from tearing. In the image to the right you can see the fabric underneath the endsheet lining the spine for added strength.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Foil Stamping Process

This article will teach you about the hot foil stamping process.

Hot Foil Stamping Machine

Hot foil stamping is the application of adding metallic material to a project using heat and pressure.

A key player in the foil stamping process is the hot foil machine. Hot foil machines are run manually by an operator who makes sure each project gets stamped correctly. The operator measures the project and places markers on the machine’s platform in a formation that allows the project to be slipped snugly inside. The formation also takes into account where the foil stamp needs to be placed. Once everything is set up, pieces are hand fed into the machine one by one until each piece has been stamped.

Foil stamping uses a heated metal die to transfer the metallic material; your digital art file is used to create this die, so all pieces will be stamped with the same shape.


Hot Foil Stamping Machine

Sequential Foil Numbering

Sequential foil uses a specific machine, as seen to the right. Instead of using a single die, these machines use a die with a rotating numbered head so that each piece gets its own unique number.


Hot foil stamping process in action

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Spot UV Process

This article explains the spot UV process.

Spot UV is a liquid varnish applied on top of the printed surface that creates a high-gloss shine. Sometimes called a spot gloss, spot UV can be placed on top of an image such as a logo or title to make it pop out against a matte or uncoated background. It’s a great specialty option to add on to your project and can really make your printed piece stand out from the crowd – the juxtaposition of matte and high gloss makes your project look luxe.

The spot UV varnish is applied using the same offset printing method as your printed pieces. A clean ink fountain in the printing press is filled with the spot UV varnish and a new plate with the spot gloss image is inserted. The printed parent sheets are run through the press and then exposed to ultraviolet light hardening the varnish. What results is a beautiful effect!

Example of Blind Spot UV Spot Gloss

When  spot UV is applied to a spot without any printing underneath, it is known as a ‘blind’ Spot UV. This is a super cool effect – we especially like using this specialty option on card and board game boxes.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Emboss/Deboss Process

This article gives a detailed explanation of the emboss/deboss process.

Embossing is the raising of one section of a design above the rest, causing that area of the cover to stick out. Debossing is the lowering of one section of a design below the rest, creating a sunken-in look and feel. This feature adds texture and depth to projects and is often used in combination with other specialty options such as foil stamping.

For the first step of the emboss/deboss process, a custom die is created. The die is installed into a deboss/emboss machine, and markers are set up to ensure alignment. Once the markers are added the operator runs the press and the die is pressed into your project. The high pressure and heat cause the material to drop around or in the shape of the die – your design.

When it comes to hardcovers, debossing is used to create both effects. For example, if you wanted your title to be debossed, the machine would apply the pressure in the shape of your title. If you wanted your title to be embossed, the machine would place pressure everywhere except your title, effectively debossing everything that isn’t supposed to be embossed.

Watch the emboss/deboss process on a book’s title

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Die Cutting Process

The die cutting process is a way to create unique shapes in material. It’s often used artistically on covers to cut windows into a book or on interior pages to create flaps, pop-up structures or interesting shapes. Read on to learn more about the process.

Die Cutting Machine Being Setup

A die, in simplest terms, is a set of steel blades forming the shape of your cut. The die cutting process starts with the creation of the die. Simple shapes like circles and squares are easy, but if your design needs a unique shape then a new die must be made, which can be costly – since our vendors may not have these unique shapes already in stock. Once the die is ready, it’s positioned on a wood block and installed into the press. The tech will measure out the placement of paper underneath the die and cut a few trial sheets to make sure the shape looks as it is supposed to and that there are no issues with the die. The die is then pressed into the material with heavy pressure making the cut.

Short video of a box being die cut

This video demostrates the die cutting process in action, showing you a box being die cut.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Cloth/PU Leather

Read on to learn about how cloth/PU leather hardcover cases are manufactured and the restrictions of printing on them.

For a unique look and feel, it’s possible to make the hardcover case for a casebound book using cloth or leather instead of printed paper. It’s most common to use faux-leather polyurethane (PU) instead of actual leather, although some companies may offer real leather binding as well. If you want to keep things vegetarian-friendly, however, cloth/PU leather is a great option to choose.

These books are made the same way as standard casebound books, just using cloth or faux leather wrapped around grey board. Casebinding, commonly referred to as hardcover binding, involves the construction of an exterior case made of cardboard wrapped with paper – in this case, we would use cloth/PU leather in place of paper. Casebinding is a more complicated process compared to other typical types of binding like softcover or saddle-stitch, but your book is safe in PrintNinja’s expert hands.

It’s important to note that it’s not possible to print on cloth or faux leather with the offset press, so if you want an image or word on your cover, foil stamping is a good alternative.

Faux Leather Book with Hot Foil Stamping Grey Cloth Bound Book with Red Hot Foil Stamping

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Newsprint

The creators of many projects that we work on want to mimic the feel of old-fashioned newsprint. Golden-age comics were made on newsprint, and it has an undeniably artsy quality with its imperfections and tendency to yellow over time.

To be as cost-effective as possible for newspapers (which are designed to be thrown away), it is very thin, low-quality paper with the tendency to oxidize and tear very easily. In fact, it’s so thin that you generally need to use a web press to print it, since the paper would be too thin to go through a sheet-fed press when cut into parent sheets. This means that it’s not possible to use newsprint for most runs of under 10,000 pieces. Plus, you might run into some unhappy customers when your project falls apart before your customer even gets to read it!

However, by using an uncoated paper stock and designing a bit of discoloration into your project, you can get all of the benefits of the newsprint look while keeping the durability and quality of a thicker sheet-fed paper stock, as in the below project:

Newsprint Paper Stock Design Example

Using this newspriting desing instead of actual newsprint is a great way to get a vintage feel without vintage durability.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Do I Need An ISBN?

Do I need an ISBN? It’s a question that we get all the time. For most people, the answer is “definitely.” A single International Standard Book Number is $125 (at the time of this writing) and is an excellent investment in your publishing future.

Basically, an ISBN is not required for face-to-face sales, sales on your own website, distribution to crowdfunding backers, etc. It is, however, required by bookstores, Amazon, book distributors like Diamond, libraries, and so on. (Your friendly local comic book shop or local coffee shop might buy a few of your copies as a kind of community benefit.)

The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is required for each version of your book: new editions, softcover and hardcover versions all need a unique identifier. The only place to purchase your own ISBN is www.isbn.org.

PrintNinja does not resell or provide ISBNs. We recommend that you only purchase ISBNs from the source above. The original purchaser of the ISBN becomes the “publisher” and that information is public. If you purchase an ISBN from a reseller, you will not be listed as the publisher on your self-published book!

ISBN Barcode

Once you have an International Standard Book Number you can generate a free barcode online. You do not need to purchase the barcode separately. When designing your cover or dust jacket, you can put the barcode and International Standard Book Number wherever you want, so be sure to include them in your art when you submit your files. Just make sure it’s 300dpi (ideally a vector PDF file). Otherwise, it may appear too blurry to scan.

If you have a hardcover book, you can opt to put the ISBN on a dust jacket or on a sticker on the outside of shrink wrap. (We’ve done both.)

The same advice goes for board games and card games – if you think that you want to give online distribution a try, the $125 fee is a small price to pay.

This article is about copyright and trademarks and how they impact the printing of your project.

Copyright Trademark Registered Trademark Symbols

Copyright

A copyright protects original works of authorship. Before you begin distributing your books, you will need to register for copyright protection. A copyright exists the moment your work is created. However, you need to register your copyright through the Library of Congress, who records your copyright claim and the date of its creation. This registration is public information and will hold up in the court of law.

Fan art is more complicated when it comes to copyright law. If your work falls into this category, be safe and make sure you understand the law.

Trademark

Trademarks protect items that define your artwork such as your title, words, phrases, symbols and logos on your book. Unlike a copyright, that exsists the moment art is created, a trademark must be applied for. Be aware that this can be a lengthy and expensive process, and that trademarks require continuous commercial use to keep in force.

Registered Trademark

The R symbol stands for a registrated trademark. As soon as you sumbit your application for a trademark you may use the TM symbol on your project. Only when your application has been approved, or registered, can you use the R symbol.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Library Placement

A great way to get your book in front of consumers is through library placement, a market that’s not as easily accessible for indie authors as you may believe. Librarians do not have a reliable source for finding suitable self-published books for their library, so it’s up to you to prove your books are quality products that fit their collection.

Avoid reinforcing the self-publisher stereotype by dumping your books into the donation bin. First, you’re better than that! Second, those books do not get the treatment you want—they end up on a sale shelf when you want your book to be prominently displayed, front and center. Instead, find the appropriate person (typically in the Collection Development or Acquisitions Department) to contact, and ask about the proper steps to donate your project or pitch your book for order.

If you want your book to be ordered rather then donated, you will likely need a level of credibility attached to your name. The best way to do this is through reviews. Try to get trade publications, blogs or social media leaders talking about your book. Send established blogs your book for free in exchange for a published review. There are many routes you can take, so get creative!

Variety of Book Genres and Binding Types

It’s important to note that genre does make a difference. Writing a genre that has a lot of consumer demand, such as adult fiction, makes it easier for librarians to see the value in your project, whereas a Trading Spaces makeover book may appear outdated and will likely be dropped from the shelf. The more potential for circulation your book offers, the longer the shelf life it will recieve.

Before taking any of these steps, however, make sure a library placement program is right for your project. There may be better options available for you to get your book in the hands of consumers, so explore your options before committing to any one distribution or publicity strategy.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Pricing Fluctuations

This article expains pricing fluctuations and how they will impact your project.

You may have noticed that quotes you recieve from printers almost always have expiration dates. Some printers won’t even quote your shipping until after your project has printed, leaving you with uncertainty about your total costs – which is not a good feeling! PrintNinja not only allows you to lock in your quote for 90 days. Not only that, but we also quote your shipping right up front so there are no surprises later – so you can rest easy knowing that what you see is what you get.

Pricing fluctuations are a result of the constantly-shifting nature of so many aspects of the printing business, not to mention the extra fluctuations that come with international commerce and logistics when printing overseas. Here are just a few of the factors that can change costs across the industry:

  1. Labor rates in China
  2. Material costs (such as paper and ink)
  3. Logistics costs (including ocean shipping rates, ground shipping rates, surcharges, and fuel costs)
  4. Currency fluctuations (which significantly alter the costs of importing and exporting on a regular basis)

Understanding these factors will help you understand your quote from PrintNinja.

Container Shipping International Pricing Fluctuations

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Glossary

B

Barcodes– Black and white bars that hold information about your project, including price.
Binding– The assembly of separate pages into a finished book or booklet by adhering the edges together by smyth sewing, gluing, or stapling.
Bleed– The area past the trim line used to conceal cutting variances for artwork that extends to the edge of the page.
Board Books– Special type of children’s book that uses thick paperboard.

C

Case Binding– Binding method for hardcover books, with a cover that is made out of a strong board material called a case.
CMYK– The four color values used in offset printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (also known as “key”).
Collation– The process of organizing pages together in number order to produce a book body.
Color Bar– A strip of colors printed in the trim area of a parent sheet that press operators use to verify color balance.
Color Variance– Slight differences in color between runs and within a run that is inherent in the offset printing process.
Copyright– A protection of your original work of authorship.
Computer-To-Plate (CTP)– Plate producing technology that uploads images to a software application that outputs images directly onto a printing plate using lasers.

D

Debossing– Using high pressure on paper to give a “sunken in” look in order to emphasize parts of a design with texture and depth.
Die Cutting– A specialty feature that creates unique shapes with steel blades that cut through paper.
Duties– Import fees charged based on the contents of your shipment, transportation mode, and destination.

E

Electronic Proof– File review by a pre-press expert who generates a PDF proof with printer’s marks.
Embossing– Raising parts of a sheet of paper with high pressure in order to emphasize parts of a design with texture and depth.

G

Gloss– A coating that adds a reflective shine to paper.

H

Hard Copy Proof– Printed pages of your project using the same materials as your final product to produce an example before printing.
Hot Foil Stamping/Sequential Foil Numbering– Specialty options that use heat to transfer metallic foil onto a printed sheet.

I

Image Setter– Compartment found in the computer-to-plate machine where laser beams bounce off mirrors onto the plate to output the image.
Imposition– A custom layout that fits as many pages as possible on a single parent sheet to decrease waste.
Impression Cylinder– A rotating cylinder in the press machine that applies pressure to paper as ink is being rolled onto the surface.
Ink Fountain– Fountains in the printing press that distribute ink onto a roller.
ISBN (International Standard Book Number)– A number pertaining to your book that distributors use to sell and track your product.

L

Lamination– A film applied to a printed sheet to protect the printed surface. Comes in two styles, gloss or matte.
Library Placement– Distribution technique where your books are circulated through libraries.

M

Manufacturing Variance– Very slight differences between copies within a print run: inherent in the offset printing process.
Matte– A coating that gives a dull shine to paper.

O

Offset Printing– High quality way to produce larger quantities of printed pieces cost-effectively.

P

Pagination– The process of arranging pages for a book.
Pantone Matching System– A universal color matching system that is categorized by numbers.
Paper Coating– A coating applied during paper manufacturing for appearance purposes such as gloss, matte, or uncoated.
Paper Finishes– Liquid applied after the printing process to provide protection for ink such as varnish, lamination or no finish.
Paper Weight– The thickness of paper stock.
Parent Sheets– Large pre-cut sheets of paper that are fed one at a time into a sheet-fed printing press.
Perfect Binding (softcover)– Binding method used for trade paperbacks and softcover books, results in books with a square spine.
Plates– A metal sheet installed into the press that indicates where ink will transfer onto paper.
Print-On-Demand (POD)– Digital printing methodology that prints books on an as-needed basis.
PrePress– Everything in the production of a print project that happens before the project goes to press (file review, proofing, imposition, plate manufacturing).
Printer’s Marks– Marks placed on your digital files or printed sheets that determine different elements such as trim, center, registration, color.
Printing Press– Machine that uses a series of plates that transfer ink onto sheets of paper.
Proofs– A proof is a presentation of your file’s quality either digitally or printed.

R

Registration– The process of precisely lining up CMYK colors so that their overlap produces one single color.
RGB– Color model where red, green, and blue light are used to create a variety of colors.
Rubber Blanket– Rubber sheet in the printing press that transfers ink to paper.

S

Saddle Stitching– Simplest binding method in which pages are folded and stapled together.
Sheet-Fed Printing Press– A printing press that uses pre-cut sheets of paper that are fed through the printing press one sheet at a time.
Signature– Folded parent sheets of eight, sixteen, or thirty-two pages.
Smyth Sewing– A sewing process that threads signatures together to create a book body by sewing through the fold of the signatures.
Spot Color– Special pre-mixed ink, often specified by use of a PMS (Pantone Matching System) color number.
Spot UV/Spot Gloss– A liquid varnish that can be applied to provide a high-gloss shine.

T

Trim Marks– Marks that show where pages will be trimmed.
Trimming– The cutting of the three sides of your book to remove registration marks and color bars, to give the book smooth edges, and to open folded pages.

U

Uncoated– Paper that does not have a matte or gloss coating and therefore feels raw and natural.

V

Varnish– A type of liquid finish applied to a printed sheet to protect the ink. Comes in two styles, gloss or matte.

W

Web Press Printing Machine– A printing press that use a roll of paper that is continuously fed through the press.

PrintNinja Process

Want to know what happens when you place an order with us? Check out all these links for information on how your project goes from dream to reality when you print with us. With information on our Satisfaction Pledge, how we determine the quote for your project, and how your project is packaged and shipped to you, you’ll understand the PrintNinja process works.

The PrintNinja Process

This is our promise to you. We trust you to bring us exactly what you want, and you can trust us to make it happen.
Satisfaction Pledge
This is our promise to you. We trust you to bring us exactly what you want, and you can trust us to make it happen.
Request a quote using one of these options - from custom quotes to our state of the art instant quote calculators.
Quoting Options
Request a quote using one of these options - from custom quotes to our state of the art instant quote calculators.
Use this timeline to follow your order to completion - from initial quote to press to shipping.
Turnaround Time
Use this timeline to follow your order to completion - from initial quote to press to shipping.
Once you have a quote you are happy with you can place your order, make payment and upload your artwork.
Placing an Order
Once you have a quote you are happy with you can place your order, make payment and upload your artwork.
Our experts will take you through the proofing process and make sure your files are print ready. Plus, learn the guidelines we require you to follow when you upload your files.
PrePress
Our experts will take you through the proofing process and make sure your files are print ready. Plus, learn the guidelines we require you to follow when you upload your files.
After you approve your proof your files will be sent to production.
Production
After you approve your proof your files will be sent to production.
Once your project is complete, it’s packed and prepped for international shipping.
Packaging
Once your project is complete, it’s packed and prepped for international shipping.
From there, your project is routed from our factory to your door through our international logistics channels.
Shipping Methods
From there, your project is routed from our factory to your door through our international logistics channels.

Still have more questions about the PrintNinja process? Feel free to reach out to us. Just give us a call or an email and one of our friendly customer service ninjas will answer all the questions you have. We can help you figure out how best to create your project, and answer any concerns about pricing or quoting that you might have.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Satisfaction Pledge

At PrintNinja, we believe you should know exactly how we can ensure your happiness as a valued client – and that’s why we provide our PrintNinja guarantee.

Our Promise

When you place an order with us, the final result will be accurate to the specifications found in your quote and be constructed with the best possible methods using only the highest quality materials.

If anything on our end of the process does not match what you chose, we’ll make it right with a refund or reprint, with the exceptions outlined in the section below.

On projects where only a portion of the order is affected, such as damage during shipping, we reserve the right to offer a prorated refund or reprint reflective of the amount of copies damaged.

We trust you to bring us exactly what you want, and you can trust us to make it happen. That’s how our PrintNinja guarantee works.

Some Exceptions

Even the smallest, most straightforward printing job is made up of several unique elements that can’t all be considered equal when it comes to customer satisfaction. Because of this, there are a few exceptions to what we can guarantee.

Color Matching

Due to the variances inherent in the color offset printing process, we cannot guarantee the colors on your final project will match what you see on your monitor or your own test copies.

The way to get the best idea of how your colors will come out is a hardcopy proof, but even then projects will exhibit small color variances due to the nature of 4-color (full color CMYK) process printing.

We also kindly ask that all files be submitted in CMYK format. If not, RGB colors will be converted during the proofing process which will result in changes to the colors’ appearance.

Prepress Check Overrides

PrintNinja prides itself on our extensive series of prepress checks, which are designed to catch the vast majority of common technical (non-creative) printing issues.

You may send your project to press without fixing the issues PrintNinja has brought to your attention, but if you choose to do so then we cannot cover any problems that arise from those issues with our guarantee.

Delivery Dates

Due to fluctuations in weather, port conditions, and random customs inspections, we can never guarantee exact delivery dates for standard shipments. All turnaround times given are approximations.

For expedited shipments, we have a Premium Expedited option that can bring the 1-week expedited turnaround down to about 3 days. These shipments must be custom quoted and your timeline must be confirmed with your account manager before your order is placed.

Creative Decisions

Your project’s words and images, and how they’re organized and prepared for production, are a matter of your own creative decisions.

While our team of printing experts can work with you to resolve certain graphic and layout issues before printing, we honor the idea that the content and design you finally submit to us is exactly what you want to us to produce.

Because of this, our PrintNinja guarantee does not cover typos or any other content-related problems, and PrintNinja does not check for these issues in our prepress checks.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Quoting Options

At PrintNinja we believe in providing no-nonsense quoting options, which is why we strive to make the process as automated and easy as possible without sacrificing communication. We have a few quoting options below that you can explore further to learn which is best for your project and how to request them. In fact, for many of our options, we provide unique calculators that can provide you with instant quotes. For extremely complex options, you can reach out to us and we’ll provide you a custom quote. No matter which of our quoting options you choose, a PrintNinja account representative (a.k.a. one of our friendly customer service ninjas) will reach out to provide personal assistance. Click on the photos below to learn more.

Quoting Options

Your best option, for traditional book projects with a few specialty features.
Calculator Quote
Your best option, for traditional book projects with a few specialty features.
For complicated card games or tabletop games.
Game Quotes
For complicated card games or tabletop games.
For extremely complex book orders.
Custom Quotes
For extremely complex book orders.
For larger orders that weigh over 2500lbs.
Freight Quotes
For larger orders that weigh over 2500lbs.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Still have questions about the quoting process? Feel free to reach out via phone or email and we will help you answer any questions you may have about our quoting options.

Calculator Quote

Our online instant quote calculator is the best way for you to get a quote for your project. Our PrintNinja IT team built this calculator in-house, which gives us the power to improve upon it constantly. We are always working on ways to add more specialty options and create a better user experience. It can handle all basic book options and a handful of specialty options. To get started you will find the “Calculate Price” button in the upper right hand corner of our website.

Example of our Calculator Instant Quote Button

How To Use Our Calculator

Once on our calculator page you can fill in your project needs from top to bottom. There are 6 sections: binding, size, cover, inside pages, quantity, and proofing. When all 6 sections are filled in, this is the big moment, you may select the “Calculate” button at the bottom of the page. You will be directed back to the top where you will find your product cost in the right hand sidebar, as seen below. You can use the calculator as many times and for as many options as you would like, so don’t be timid.

Product Price Instant Calculator Example

We encourage you to play around and see how different options affect your price. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Double check your specs and make sure you have an understanding of the material you’ve selected.

Shipping Calculation

Under the product price you will see a shipping price section. Currently the calculator can handle shipping cost for any packages sent to the United States and Canada*. Fill in your zip or postal code and select the “calculate shipping” button. If the final destination is in another country you can select the appropriate location from the dropdown menu to alert us that we need to provide you with a custom shipping quote.

*With the door-to-door calculated price to Canada, you will notice a 6% import fee, this includes all duties and taxes.

Shipping Expedited and Standard Option on our Calculator

The “calculate shipping” button will unveil a standard and expedited shipping section, as seen above. If you want standard shipping then click the bubble before “Standard”. If you would like to see a price for expedited shipping then fill in the blank box with the number of books you would like expedited. Click “submit” and select the bubble to see the price added to your total, as seen below.

Grand Total as it Appears on our Calculator

This is your grand total. You will also see a break down of cost showing how much of your grand total is shipping and in this case a 10% sales tax, since the order is being shipped to Illinois. Once you have a price you are happy with we suggest clicking the “Lock in this Price for 90 days” button. Due to price fluctuation it’s common that cost can shift on a monthly basis.

If you are raring to go you can select, “Place your order online now” and then celebrate!

Specialty Add-ons Form on our Calculator

Specialty Add-ons box

Adding Specialty Options

We have a handful of specialty options programed into the calculator, but there are many options whose cost depends on your order size. If you want to add a specialty option that is not visible on the calculator, you can do so by clicking on the “Lock in this Price for 90 days”, that will display a red box, as seen to the right. Fill in the “Specialty Add-ons” text box to your heart’s content!

No Clue What To Select?

If you are struggling to choose material, sizes, paper weights then click on the learn more links. They will provide unlimited information on each specific option. We also suggest visiting our Industry Standards page to view a list of sample material and sizes that you would find in your local book or comic store.

Sample Packs

Our last recommendation is to order one of our standard sample packs by visting our standard sample pack page. We also offer our deluxe sample pack if you have specific samples that you would like to see.

If An Option Isn’t Appearing

9 out of 10 times if an option isn’t appearing it’s because the combination you are selecting isn’t possible. For example, 10 pt. paper is not an interior option on the calculator unless you have spiral or wire binding selected. The calculator is wise, trust the calculator.

Ready to try for yourself?

Calculate Quote

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Game Quote

This article will teach you more about the game quote process.

PrintNinja characterizes games into two broad categories. “Card Games” and “Board Games.” If your game is cards and a box, you can instantly calculate the prices on our card game calculator. If your game is a classic “board game” with a board, play pieces, cards, instructions, a big box, and so on, please continue to our board game section for information about generating a budgetary quote.

PrintNinja Tip
It may take some time to get all of the pricing together (sometimes as long as a week or so for complex projects) but our ninjas will send it to you as soon as it's received.

Below is a walkthrough of specs that you’ll come across on the quote forms, it may help to consider these answers before using our request forms.

Basics

How many units would you like to order?

We require a minimum of 500 units for board game orders.

Where would you like these games shipped?

To provide you with an accurate quote we need, at least, the zip code of the final destination.

Would you like electronic or a hard copy proof?

We offer electronic and hard copy proofs for custom games. However, we do not create standalone prototypes of board games without a full production run.

Card Games

Card Games

What size do you want your cards to be?

We can produce a variety of sizes. The most commonly used size is the poker card 2.5″ x 3.5″. We offer Poker, Tarot, Bridge, Euro and tons more, just ask!

PrintNinja Tip
If your game requires a unique size we may need to make a custom die, which can be expensive. If you are trying to be cost effective we recommend choosing a size that we currently offer.

How many cards do you need in a deck?

We can fit 55 poker sized cards on a parent sheet. If your game requires 65 cards then we will have to use another parent sheet, which increases price. It might be worth it to cut out 10 cards. However, don’t sacrifice playability for cost!

PrintNinja Tip
If you are trying to be cost-conscious the best way to save money is by matching the number of cards in your game to a multiple of the number of cards that fit on a single parent sheet.

What type of material would you like your cards to be made from?

280gsm blue core is our most commonly used option and is what you will commonly see in games on the shelf of your local game store. We also offer coreless 350gsm stock, plastic PVC cards, as well as an imported 330gsm black core stock that is primarily used for casino-quality cards.

What finish type and style would you like applied to your cards?

There are two types, varnish or lamination. Most cards have a varnish, but if you need your cards to be water resistant then lamination is your best bet. For additional protection, we also offer plastic PVC cards to make your game completely waterproof.

There are a few style choices, gloss, matte, and gloss or matte linen. Most cards you play with have a gloss style. Linen is a textured effect added after the finish is applied and is commonly found on playing cards.

Do you need packaging?

You probably need a box. We can determine the correct size but let us know if you want a tuck box, deck box or a two piece box. If you want your cards arranged specifically, such as 3 rows of 36 cards each, then let us know and we can create the right size packaging.

PrintNinja Tip
There is a 110 card limit for tuck boxes. If you have more cards you will need to request a deck box or two-piece box.

Color?

Let us know if you would like to print in full color CMYK or in black and white. Additionally, you can add on specialty options like metallic ink or spot (Pantone) colors!

Board Games

Board Game

What is your playing surface?

Typically table top games come with a board but we also offer rubber playing mats, paperboard tiles and other surfaces.

What size is your board or playing surface?

We can print boards of all sizes! The preferred unit of measurement is inches.

Do you need your board to fold?

We can create half-folds, quarter-folds etc. so that your packaging can be more compact.

What finish type and style would you like on your board?

The finish types are varnish or lamination, most games use a varnish. If you need a water resistant board then lamination is a better choice. Style options are gloss or matte, this is a creative choice, but most games use gloss.

PrintNinja Tip

Pieces

Game Pieces

There are an infinite amount of components that can make up a board game. Here are a few common options we offer.

For most pieces we will need to know these four measurements:

How many of each piece do you need?

What size do you need your pieces to be?

What color pieces do you need?

We offer many stock colors including black, blue, green, red, white, yellow, and more! Standard color options vary based on the piece material.

PrintNinja Tip
If you need another color we can supply that but it will be more expensive than using colors we have in stock.

What material would you like your pieces made out of?

For most pieces we offer wood, plastic, or resin. We also offer marbles, stones, timers, spinners, markers, and more!

Keep in mind some pieces require additional information, like dice:

  • Number of sides? 6, 12, 20 etc.
  • Face type? Pips, numbered etc.

Instruction Booklet

 Instructions

What size do you need your booklet to be?

We can do multi-page booklets or a single front and back sheet of paper.

PrintNinja Tip
There are many creative ways to get around the instruction book. If your game requires cards many creators will add an extra card to their deck with printed instructions. If your order contains a two piece box you can print your instructions on your packaging.

How many pages do you need?

Just like printing a book the more pages you have the more expensive your project will be.

What size would you like your booklet?

Please make sure your size is able to fit inside your packaging.

What type of binding?

Saddle-stitching is the most common binding, but perfect, spiral/wire, and unbound accordion folding are available options as well.

What paperweight and finish do you need?

A lighter paperweight (55lb, 70lb) works great, but if your instructions will be handled often then we suggest a heavier weight (85lb, 105lb) for more durability.

What type and style of finish do you need?

The finish types are varnish or lamination, most instructions use a varnish. If you need a water resistant booklet then lamination is a better choice. Style options are gloss or matte, this is a creative choice.

Card and Board Game Sample Pack

Sample Pack Request

If you are unsure how to answer some of these questions then request a sample pack. Be specific when telling us what you are looking for so we can customize a package to answer your particular questions.


Ready to try for yourself?

Calculate Game Quote

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Custom Quote

pop-up book custom quote example

For complex projects that cannot be quoted using our online calculator, we offer our custom quoting form. Before using this form, see if our online quote calculator can handle your project. The online calculator will provide you with a quicker – and often less expensive – quote.

Though ost requests and research can be handled on our online pricing calculators, PrintNinja is happy to provide a custom printing quote when our calculators can’t quite capture the intent or vision of the user. (It happens all the time!)

Maybe you want a book with gilded edges or a cloth cover. Maybe you need one book with a hardcover and a softcover of the same edition (split binding). We can help with all of those requests – PrintNinja is a full custom printer and we enjoy custom projects. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other printers. All of the situations above will require conversations with our account managers. Those conversations help us understand exactly what you’re looking for and whether we can supply it.

If you don’t see what you’re looking for on our calculator then contact us through the custom price quote form. Consult our calculator page to make sure you are providing all the information we need.

Ready to try for yourself?

Most custom quotes take approximately 1 week for us to price.

Calculate Custom Quote

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Freight Forwarding Quote

For very large or heavy orders, PrintNinja can often decrease your shipping cost by using our network of third party freight forwarders.

Shipping Weight as Seen on our Calculator

How To Request A Freight Quote

You can request a freight quote through our online calculator. Once you input all the information for your project and calculate your shipping cost you will see an estimated shipping weight, as seen to the right. If the weight is higher than 2500 lbs the calculator will provide a freight forwarding option. If your weight is lower then 2500lbs, our standard or expedited shipping is perfect for your project.

PrintNinja Tip
Freight quotes take us approximately 1 week to price.

What’s The Difference?

Our ‘standard’ shipping option goes via an ocean shipping pathway provided by UPS.  All of our standard orders come in to the USA through our port in California and then are split out and shipped to you via UPS Ground and UPS LTL services.

However, with heavier or larger orders (typically over 2 cubic meters in size or 2500lbs in weight), it can be much more cost-effective to use a company known as a freight forwarder that will choose the most efficient combination of ocean, truck, and rail to get your shipment directly to you from the factory in China.

Because the route taken will vary widely depending on the size of the order and the destination, all freight forwarding quotes must be custom quoted.

The Downsides:

  • Freight forwarding typically takes an extra week to arrive compared to our standard shipping option.
  • There are no tracking numbers available with a freight forwarding company as there are with UPS, FedEx, or DHL.

The Upsides:

  • Make no mistake, once your order gets above 2 cubic meters in size, we can save you a lot of money by using our freight forwarding network. Almost all of our very large orders use this option.

See if your order weighs more than 2500 lbs.

When you configure your project on our calculator, you may see a warning on our shipping page indicating that your project requires a custom shipping quote. If so, you can still save your printing quote, but we will follow up about a custom quote for freight forwarding.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Turnaround Times

Please Note
The Coronavirus Issues in China continues to cause delays in our normal production times. Orders placed at this time will still encounter a delay beyond our normal turnaround times. Additionally, we are seeing prolonged Expedited Shipping times as air freight shipments are seeing daily weight limits.

Prepress Time Detail

Proofing, production, and shipping are three separate processes. Once you have paid and uploaded your files and we receive them, you will get a digital proof the next business day before we close. Files sent after hours or over the weekend are received on the following business day. We will work with you until your proof is right; sometimes this takes several times back and forth. We recommend you budget a week to make sure your files are correct and ready for press, but this can vary based on your experience and ability to make fixes to your files. Once digital proofing is complete we will create any physical proofs or press hardcopy proof sheets you have ordered. (Book hardcopy proof sheets take two weeks to produce and ship, and game and board book hardcopy proof sheets take 3 weeks.) Once proofing is complete and you approve the proofs we proceed to production.

Production Time Detail

Production turnaround times start from the day you go to press, which is usually one to two days after you approve your final proof. Production varies based on project type, project complexity, binding type, and project size. The timeline estimates above are for modest sized orders (fewer than 2000 units) with average complexity. While we are usually well inside these timeline estimates, getting your book right is the main priority. If you have a large order, many specialty options, or a high page count please anticipate a longer production timeline.

Once your order is printed and bound our Quality Control staff inspect a random sampling of your order and confirm it matches your proofs. We then pack them and ship them according to the method or methods you have paid for.

Shipping Time Detail

Shipping is where you have control. We offer budget shipping via ocean container and that takes 6-8 weeks after your book is finished printing. We also offer expedited shipping via air freight that takes 7-10 days after production. You can ship via one or both of these methods, and our calculator (internal link to calculator home page) can give you an instant price for splitting your shipment in this way. These timelines are also estimates, and PrintNinja does not have control of customs, port strikes, ocean currents, and other rare occurrences that can extend your shipping time.

PrintNinja always recommends padding your timeline and ordering as early as you are able. While we will do all we can to meet a requested timeline, we cannot offer guarantees, and we never want to sacrifice the quality of your project. Our estimates are just that, estimates, and while the majority of our projects fall within those listed turnaround times, delays are possible when custom manufacturing your unique book or game.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Upcoming Chinese Holiday Schedule

Chinese Holiday Schedule 2019
Ching Ming Festival – April 4th-6th
Labour Day – May 1st-5th
DragonBoat Festival – June 25th-27th
Mid-Autumn Festival – September 22nd-24th
National Day Holiday – October 1st-8th
Chinese New Year – Jan/Feb 2020/2021

Please Note: The Coronavirus Issues in China and the US continue to cause delays in our normal production times. Orders placed at this time will still encounter a delay beyond our normal turnaround times. Additionally, we are seeing prolonged Expedited Shipping times as air freight shipments are seeing daily weight limits.

To avoid delays, reference the cut-off times below. Orders placed during the holiday will be processed in the order in which they are approved once the facilities re-open. For orders approved between the cut-off times and closure, we will complete as much manufacturing as possible to shorten the delay.

The PrintNinja team in the US remains open and processing orders. We have however temporarily shut down the mailing of sample packets.

Orders over 3,000 quantity and of extra-large page count might have longer production times than are referenced below. If your project is very large or complex, please reach out for a custom turnaround time.

Have any more questions about the Chinese Holiday Schedule? Feel free to contact us.

Binding typeApproval Cut-off Day
Saddle StitchingJan 6th, 2020
Perfect BoundDec 30th, 2019
CaseboundDec 16th, 2018
Board BookDec 16th, 2018
Wire Bound and Spiral BoundDec 16th, 2018
Simple Card Games*Dec 16th, 2018
Simple Board Games*Dec 13th, 2018

Board Games

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Placing an Order

Once you’re ready, there are two ways to place your order with PrintNinja:

  • You can use the payment link from your quote PDF. If you can’t find your quote, you can always request another copy from your account rep.
  • You can place your order directly through our pricing calculator by clicking the “Place Your Order Online Now” button.

If you’ve saved a quote with us, you can conveniently find a payment link on your quote underneath the grand total. Clicking that link will take you to a secure payment page that accepts most major credit cards or PayPal. Once you have submitted your payment you will receive a follow-up email with your receipt.

Payment and Placing Your Order

Prices shown on our quotes are in USD and include all taxes and duties for delivery to addresses in the USA. Orders delivered to other countries are subject to any applicable taxes and duties charged by the destination country.

PrintNinja accepts a variety of payment options:

  • Visa
  • Discover
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • PayPal

Read more about our payment process here. If you still have questions about how to place your order, feel free to contact us. One of our friendly customer service ninjas will help you answer any questions you have about placing an order with PrintNinja.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Payment Methods

This article will outline PrintNinja’s payment methods for you.

Congratulations! You are ready to place your order and make your dream a reality. Before we move on to prepress you need to submit a full payment. Once you submit payment, we guarantee your pricing won’t change (even shipping prices). Many other companies will change freight pricing on you in the middle of your order, but with PrintNinja you know up front exactly what your costs will be.

If you’ve saved a quote with us, you can conveniently find a payment link on your quote underneath the grand total. Clicking that link will take you to a secure payment page that accepts most major credit cards or PayPal. Once you have submitted your payment you will receive a follow-up email with your receipt.

If you received a custom quote from one of our account reps, this is what your payment link will look like:

Example of Payment Link on Your Quote

If you received a quote via email by locking a quote in on our calculator, then your payment link will appear on the second page of your quote like this:

Example of Payment Link on Your Quote

Prices shown on our quotes are in USD and include all taxes and duties for delivery to addresses in the USA. Orders delivered to other countries are subject to any applicable taxes and duties charged by the destination country.

PrintNinja accepts a variety of payment options:

  • Visa
  • Discover
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • PayPal

Payment Processing Errors

If you’re receiving an error when trying to make payment, 99% of the time the error message is your bank denying the transaction. Typically it’s because your card has a daily spend limit that you are surpassing. You can clear this up by calling your bank or having your PrintNinja account rep split your payment so you can pay over multiple days. Still have questions about PrintNinja’s payment methods? Contact us and we will help you answer any questions.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

After your payment is made in full, the next step is to submit your files to us for prepress. You can find your artwork upload link on your quote PDF.

If you received a custom quote from one of our account reps, this is what your artwork link will look like:

Example of Art Upload Links on Your Quote File Submission

If you received a quote via email by locking a quote in on our calculator, then your artwork link will appear on the second page of your quote like this:

Example of Art Upload Links on Your Quote File Submission

The link will take you to our file upload system. You will see a confirmation message on your screen once your upload is complete. Do not exit out of your screen until you see the confirmation message.

Before You Upload

Please ensure that you have reviewed all your files to verify that they are print-ready, including reviewing PrintNinja’s artwork setup guides.

Please Note: Make sure your files are no larger than 400dpi, higher dpi files do not improve print quality. Our printing machines max out at 400dpi. Submitting a file with a higher dpi may delay your electronic proof as it takes longer for our prepress reps to download.

Once you upload your files, we will generate an electronic proof by the next business day for your review.

If you need to upload new files after reviewing your electronic proof, it may take us up to one additional business day to generate each successive proof.

Also, please remove spaces and special characters from your filenames, as this causes issues with our uploading system.

What You Can Upload

Our preferred format is PDF, but we can also accept a wide variety of other formats.

Got a Bunch of Files?

If you need to upload more than five files at once, you may want to combine them into a single ZIP file and upload that file instead. You can also upload your first five files, return to this page and repeat as needed.

Possible Errors

The number one error is uploading files that are too large (anything over 2GB). If this is the case, you can save your pages in chunks since we can accept multiple files at a time. Make sure to label your files appropriately such as, Cover.pdf, FirstHalf.pdf, SecondHalf.pdf. You can also use our alternative method below.

Alternative Uploading Methods

For larger files or other errors with uploading your file you may use an outside service like Dropbox and email the download link to customerservice@printninja.com or to your account rep.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Prepress

This article will help you learn more about the prepress process with PrintNinja.

You will be assigned a prepress guru who will provide you with an electronic proof approximately 1 business day after you have submitted your payment and uploaded your artwork files. The primary goal of prepress is to make sure your files are print ready and that everything will come out the way you intend. We do this by running your files through a pre-flight test.

Your designated prepress expert will share their knowledge with you throughout this process so you won’t be left in the dark. Any changes they make to your files will be documented and explained, as well as any changes they suggest that you make to your files.

For a comprehensive check list to assist you with preparing your files for print, visit our file setup resources page.

Creative Decisions

Our prepress experts will always inform you before making any technical changes to your files (e.g. color conversion). However, we will never make any creative adjustments to your files and we do not review files with these considerations in mind:

  • Spelling or grammar
  • Graphic design
  • Plot
  • Stylistic choices of any kind

You are responsible for all creative choices.

After the process you will receive an email with your electronic proof and notes from your prepress ninja specifying anything that we recommend you change in your file before we go to press. We will go through as many rounds of prepress as you need until you are satisfied with your electronic proof.

If you are new to commercial print production, we suggest giving yourself some extra time to work with our prepress experts to review your files and make any fixes necessary. This might be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your experience and the print-readiness of your artwork.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Electronic Proofing

Once we’ve received your files, the next step is to move on to electronic proofing. We provide electronic proofing to all of our customers for free, and all projects go through the process, even if you’ve added hard copy proofing as well. When you receive your electronic proof via email, you may have suggestions from your prepress expert for changes that should be made to your files before sending them into production. You’ll also notice that printer’s marks have been added to your files. These are special marks to indicate different elements such as trim, bleed, and center.

To view your proof, you’ll be directed to an interface that looks like the one pictured below:

Electronic Proof Approval Button

Once your files are ready to go to press, you can approve the proof through the link sent to you. If you click the “Approve” button please know that you will no longer be able to see your electronic proof. If you want to make changes later you can contact your prepress rep. However, production usually starts within a day or two after your approval, so if you need to make changes let your prepress rep know immediately.

If you’re using electronic proofing, your approval serves as an agreement between you and us as the standard for your final product. If you’re using hard copy proofing, then your approval means we’ll proceed to making your hard copy proof. However, it’s important to remember that electronic proofs do not show you how your colors will turn out. For a more accurate indication of how your colors will look when printed offset, we recommend adding hard copy proofing to your order.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Hard Copy Proofing Sheet

(If you haven’t added a hard copy proofing sheet to your order, you can skip this step.)

Production of your hard copy proof will take place once you’ve approved your electronic proof. In most cases, you will receive your press sheet(s) in the mail as a rolled parcel. However, if your project is a hardcover book and you’ve elected to add the cover to your hard copy proof, your press sheet(s) will arrive folded along with your hardcover proof.

Your proof sheet will arrive at your door approximately two weeks after you approve your electronic proof. From there, you have the opportunity to make revisions to your files based on the physical proof. If revisions are made we will provide additional electronic proofs. You may also purchase another round of hard copy proofing, which will take another 2 weeks from your electronic proof approval.

To approve your hard copy proof sheet, email or call your account rep. Once approved full production of your project will begin within 1-2 business days.

Hard Copy Proofing Process and Example

For most standard size projects (up to 8.5” x 11”), you may select up to 8 pages to be printed for your hard copy proof sheet. We recommend you choose the 8 inside pages with the colors you’re most concerned about. Email your account rep the page numbers of those you would like to see printed. These 8 pages will be printed on a parent sheet using the same paper stock as you’ve selected for your final project.

For cost on hardcopy proofing visit our proofing options page.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Production

Your production timeline will vary depending on the scope of your project. Visit our turnaround time page to determine how long your project will take. Once we approve your proof, your project will begin production.

4-color printing press

Press

Your pages will be printed on a four-color sheet-fed printing press and run through a drying process. This phase can take approximately 1 week or longer depending on your order size. For an in depth walkthrough about the parts and process of running a printing press visit our Printing Academy press section.

Post-Press

Your dried printed pages will then be folded, cut and bound to form your final product, which can take 1-4 weeks depending on your binding option. To learn the difference between each binding process visit our Printing Academy post-press section.

Potential Delays In Your Production Timeline

  • Larger orders (typically over 3,000 units) may require additional production time.
  • Specialty options such as foil stamping, spot UV, embossing, debossing, and more may require additional production time.
  • Orders that are in production over the Chinese Holidays may require an extra week or two in production.
  • Finally, if we run into any quality assurance issues during production, we will let you know immediately. In most cases we force the factory to fix or redo any work that isn’t up to our incredibly high standards, but this may require additional production time.

Still have more questions about your production timeline? Feel free to contact us.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Quality Control

This article will teach you about PrintNinja’s quality control, and how we make sure your final project matches your proof.

Jack On Site Quality Control Asurance Printing

On-Site Quality Assurance

When it comes to quality assurance, PrintNinja has a secret weapon: Jack, our on-site quality control expert. Jack works full time at the printing factory, doing press checks and personally reviewing every project page by page to make sure your final project matches your electronic proof.

Overrun Offer

As with any manufacturing process, printing and binding carries a small defect rate, usually well under 2%. Knowing this, PrintNinja adds a 2% overrun to every order we create to combat any variances that may occur. We will send you the overrun pieces for free, even if there are no issues.
Quality Assurance On Site Printing

Our Leverage

PrintNinja’s standards are incredibly high and all of our factories understand our commitment to quality. If something goes wrong in the production process, we catch it on the spot and force the factory to fix it or even start again from scratch if needed. Working with PrintNinja means that even a small print run gets the same attention to detail and is backed by the same leverage as a huge printing company.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Safety Testing

We have a relationship with a laboratory that is certified to run many safety tests for books, games, and other printed items. The most common test we run is the toxicity test, which tests your ink and paper for lead and mercury.

Process

For the toxicity test we will print extra books during your press run and send them to our lab. The paper and ink will be burned into their natural chemical form and tested for unwanted material.
Price: $350

Adding a toxicity test to your order will add approximately one week onto your turnaround time.

Tubes for Safety Testing

Required Testing

Safety testing is mandatory for games that will be marketed to children under 13 years of age. If you plan to print “AGES 8+” on your game you will need to have paperwork stating you have passed a toxicity test before your game can enter the US Market.

If you want to be cost conscious then you can skip the safety test by not including a playing age on your game. However, if you plan to sell to retailers they will require that a play age is listed on the box. In this case you can skip the toxicity test by printing “AGES 13+”.

The safety testing procedure for card games are the same as for books, the paper and ink is tested. If you have components like meeples, wood cubes etc. there are more tests that need to be run and therefore a higher price associated.

All our paper and game pieces have been tested and have passed, but you will need to run the tests on your game to acquire the paperwork as a formality to sell your game to retailers.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Packaging

We work with our printing facilities to package your order as securely as humanly possible, making your project’s journey halfway across the world as safe as a trip across town.

Protective Measures for Packaging Your Order

Here’s a snapshot of how we package your books. Our heavy duty packaging includes bubble wrap, packaging paper, corner protectors, and shipping bands. If your order is large enough to be palletized, we apply protective measures to the entire shipping pallet rather than the individual boxes.

In the video above, you can see one of our associates carefully wrapping a spiral-bound book order in bubble wrap, folding up the sides, and securing the bubble wrap around the books with tape. Then, he adds heavy-duty packaging paper as a second layer outside of the bubble wrap. After that, he adds corner protectors on each corner – these will protect the corners from damage if they are bumped during the shipping process. Finally, he places the order in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box and wraps the order with shipping bands.

Still have questions about the packaging process? Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email, and one of our friendly customer service ninjas can help answer any questions you may have about how we package your order to protect it during the shipping process.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Shipping Methods

This article will teach you about PrintNinja’s shipping methods.

We have established trade channels to get books from the factory right to our customers’ doors with as little hassle as possible. We offer freight forwarding, air shipping, and split shipping. We take care of all customs paperwork and processes for customers in the USA and Canada and for customers in other countries, we guide you through the import process step-by-step.

Expedited Air Shipping Plane Being Loaded

Expedited (Air)

Expedited shipping is sent via air freight, and
is the fastest option we offer. It’s more
expensive than standard shipping, but it only
takes approximately 1 week for your project to
travel from China to your door.

We also have a Premium Expedited option that can bring the 1-week expedited turnaround down to about 3 days. These shipments must be custom quoted and your timeline must be confirmed with your account manager before your order is placed.


Standard Ocean Shipping Linear Carrying Containers

Standard (Ocean)

Standard shipping is sent via ocean liner and takes
approximately 6 weeks to get your project from
China to your door once production is complete.
However, timing can never be guaranteed for
standard shipments, since they have to go through
an extensive customs process at both the import
and export stages.


Shipping Option Split

Hybrid Shipping Method

If you need part of your project fast, but still want to save money overall, you can choose our partial expediting option. A portion of your project will be sent via air, while the rest arrive via ocean freight. Our online instant quote calculator can handle calculating shipping cost for this option.
Go to the Shipping Calculation section for a walkthrough.


Split Shipping

We can ship your order to multiple addresses. For example you can send a portion of your order to our warehouse for storage and a portion to your home address. Many companies take advantage of this option to send large portions of their catalog order to all their stores.

If this option is right for you, please let us know before you place your order. You can email your account rep or let us know through our “specialty add-ons” form found on our calculator after you lock in your quote. We will need to know how many units you would like to send to each address.

Shipping Methods International

Tracking Numbers

You will receive a tracking number right away for any expedited air copies. However, standard (ocean) shipments don’t have tracking information available until they have cleared customs in the USA (approximately five weeks into the shipping process). Once they have cleared customs and been delivered to the UPS warehouse, you will receive a tracking number for the final leg of your shipment.

Potential Delays

With the exception of our guaranteed delivery date service available for expedited orders, all of our shipping times are approximate. For standard speed (ocean) shipments, your order may arrive before, during or after the estimated timeframe provided. Shipping time will vary based on weather conditions, port and boat capacity, labor fluctuations, customs approval and other factors.

To be completely safe, we recommend adding a few weeks onto your expected delivery date to account for the many unforeseen events that can take place in international ocean shipping. For example, occasionally one of our shipping containers will be flagged for a random customs inspection by Customs and Border Protection, adding a 1-2 week delay that is out of our control.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Customs, Taxes, and Duties

This article will teach you about the shipping logistics that come into play when you print with PrintNinja.

All customs, duties, and taxes for orders being delivered to the US and Canada are included in our pricing, and we handle all necessary importing paperwork. All other orders shipped to locations outside the United States may be subject to import taxes, customs duties, and fees imposed by the destination country.

For many other destination countries, we can guide you through the complex world of customs. We may also provide you with a freight carrier who can coordinate the shipping through the customs process. When you recieve a quote from us, you will see a notice if we have specific importing systems for your country. The note will contain information regarding what information (Passport, Driver’s License, Business Number etc.) you will need to provide to our carrier and what fees (Goods and Sales Tax, Value-added Tax etc.) will be charged.

For some countries we are not able to provide a carrier because we do not have a connected route. In this case you will need to provide your own freight carrier.

The following countries have easy and mostly painless import processes, which we’re happy to handle for you. Our shipping capacity is not limited to the following. If you need to ship somewhere not listed below, don’t hesitate to ask how we can make that possible for you -we’ll figure out how to handle the shipping logistics!

Shipping Container Used in International Ocean Shipping

Australia

Australia charges a 10% Goods and Service Tax, which is not included in our quotes. PrintNinja cannot collect this directly, instead it will be collected by our freight carrier before delivery. They will need a copy of your Australian Business Number, Passport, or Driver’s License in order to collect and file this Goods and Service Tax on your behalf.

You need an Australian Business Number, Passport, or Driver’s license, but no customs broker. Carrier will collect 10% Goods and Service Tax.

Canada

Your PrintNinja quote will include a 6% Import Fee, which covers all brokerage fees, duties and taxes. We handle 100% of the shipping and import requirements needed to deliver your project to your door.

New Zealand

New Zealand charges a 15% Goods and Services Tax, which is not included in our quotes. PrintNinja cannot collect this directly, instead it will be collected by our freight carrier before delivery.

The freight carrier will collect 15% Goods and Service Tax, you don’t need a local broker or to provide the carrier with any information.

United Kingdom

You must have or apply for a valid Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EROI)—a fancy way of saying import-and-export business ID#—at least 10 days before the shipment is delivered.

Our freight carrier will need your Economic Operator Registration and Identification number to complete delivery of your books. Delays in providing this information to the carrier may result in storage charges, so please have your Economic Operator Registration and Identification number ready in order to receive delivery.

Books are duty free and VAT rated 0%, but games are duty free and VAT rated 20%.

UPS Warehouse China

Warehousing and Fulfillment

But wait, there’s more to learn about shipping logistics! You can choose to do split shipping and send a portion of your order to our U.S. warehouse. There are no taxes or duties to be paid on these copies, and we can fulfill any orders you have in the U.S. market. Check out how our warehousing and fulfillment service could benefit you

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Delivery Process

This article will teach you about the delivery process when you print with PrintNinja.

This is the final countdown! After all those weeks of waiting, your order is about to be delivered to your door. Below you will learn what to expect based on the shipping method you chose.

Books Packaged on a Palette

Expedited (Air) Delivery

Expedited shipments will be delivered by a uniformed FedEx or UPS delivery person. Please note that for expedited shipments, your signature is required to complete delivery. However, if your schedule isn’t flexible enough to allow you to be home at the time of delivery, you can sign for your order in advance on the UPS or FedEx website.

Standard (Ocean) Delivery

If you’ve selected the standard shipping method, you will not receive a tracking number from us until your packages have crossed the ocean and are scanned into the shipper’s warehouse, approximately 5 weeks after production has been completed.

If your shipment is under 50 Packages: Your shipment will arrive in individual cartons shipped via UPS Ground and will be delivered by a uniformed UPS delivery person. A signature is not required for delivery, and delivery changes can be made on the UPS website.

If your shipment is 50 packages or more: Your shipment will be palletized (bundled together onto one or more shipping pallets) and shipped via the UPS LTL network. UPS LTL uses third party trucking companies rather than uniformed UPS drivers, and the delivery driver will typically call you to set up a delivery appointment. Please note that drivers are not equipped to break down pallets.

If you’re not sure whether your shipment is 50 packages or more, you can always ask your account rep who will be happy to let you know.

Freight Forwarder Delivery

If your order is large (over 2500 lbs), it will be palletized and shipped via a third party freight forwarder rather than through UPS. This is an incredibly cost-efficient freight pathway, but unfortunately there are no tracking numbers provided since the forwarding company can use any combination of ocean, rail, and truck to get your shipment to its final destination. As with UPS LTL, you can expect to receive your packages from a local trucking company, who will call you in advance to set up a delivery appointment. Please note that drivers are not equipped to break down pallets.

Still have questions about the delivery process? Feel free to contact us and one of our friendly customer service ninjas will help you answer any questions you might have.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Printing Options

What kind of printing options are available to you?

PrintNinja Offset Printing Services Custom Printing and Binding Options

Custom Printing and Binding Options

The first step after deciding to print your own project is to figure out how you want the final product to look and feel. Even on simple jobs the number of offset printing services and options that PrintNinja offers can quickly become overwhelming – but don’t fret!

Thankfully, we’re here to explain everything and make sure your project turns out exactly the way you envision it. PrintNinja offers a multitude of printing options ranging from different paper thicknesses, materials, and additional specialty options – like spot UV, foil stamping, embossing and debossing, and matte varnish – to give your project a little extra flair. Here, you’ll learn more about all of the choices available to you – whether you’re printing a book project or a custom card or board game, we provide choices that will make your final project look amazing. Read on to see all the variety of options and figure out what the best combination is for your printed project.

Select one of the following information pages for more detail, what your options are, and how they’ll impact the end product.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Book Printing Services

Read on to discover all the book printing services we offer.

Here at PrintNinja, we offer a breadth of different options for you to build into your project. From binding to paper to other specialty options, you’ll be able to choose a combination of options that will result in the perfect printed project for you.

If this list of book printing services seems overwhelming, we recommend that you request a deluxe sample pack that includes recently printed books and a printing guide. In the meantime, peruse our book printing services by selecting an option below.

Book Printing Services

View all our binding types.
Binding
View all our binding types.
Learn about paper weight, coatings and finishes.
Paper Options
Learn about paper weight, coatings and finishes.
See additional options you can add to our standard stock.
Specialty Paper Options
See additional options you can add to our standard stock.
Learn the ins and outs of endsheets.
Endsheets
Learn the ins and outs of endsheets.
Book dimensions, and a list of common book sizes.
Measuring Size
Book dimensions, and a list of common book sizes.
Explaination of why page counts have to be multiples of four.
Page Count
Explaination of why page counts have to be multiples of four.
Learn about our two printing types.
Full Color vs. Black and White
Learn about our two printing types.
Features we offer that can enhance the value of your book.
Book Specific Specialty Options
Features we offer that can enhance the value of your book.
Pros and cons of electronic and hard copy proofing.
Proofing Options
Pros and cons of electronic and hard copy proofing.
View our packaging options: shrink wrap, slipcases and custom boxes.
Packaging Options
View our packaging options: shrink wrap, slipcases and custom boxes.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Binding Types

PrintNinja offers several professional types of book binding for your project. All of our books are printed and bound with expert care and attention, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to customization. When you’re ready to get started, check out our calculator to get an instant price.

Saddle Stitching

Saddle-stitching is the simplest binding method, in which pages are folded and stapled together. This type of binding is used for single issue comic books, as well as lookbooks, workbooks, booklets, calendars, and many magazines and catalogs with smaller page counts.

Learn More about saddle stitching.

Saddle Stitch Binding Print Example

Perfect Binding (Softcover)

Perfect binding is the binding method used for softcover books and trade paperbacks. Pages are folded, gathered, sewn, and then glued into a cover, forming a squared-off spine.

Learn More about perfect binding.

Perfect Binding Softcover Print Example

Case Binding (Hardcover)

Case binding is the technical term for hardcover book binding. Pages are folded, gathered, and sewn, and a ‘case’ is made by gluing and folding a printed sheet around 3 pieces of greyboard. The pages are then glued into the case with a few extra pages called endsheets, forming an entire casebound book.

Learn More about case binding.

Case Binding Hardcover Print Example

Board Book Binding

Board books are a special type of binding often used in children’s books. Pages are printed on thick paperboard and assembled one by one into a book block with a printed spine.

Learn More about board book binding.

Board Book Binding Print Example

Wire Binding

In wire binding, pages are trimmed and assembled, holes are punched along one side, and wire is clamped down through those holes. Wire binding lays completely flat and is often used for cookbooks and manuals.

Learn More about wire binding.

Wire Binding Print Example

Spiral Binding

For spiral binding, pages are trimmed and assembled, holes are punched along one side of the pages, and a plastic spiral is threaded through those holes. Spiral binding lays completely flat and is often used for cookbooks and manuals.

Learn More about spiral binding.

Spiral Binding Print Example

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Saddle-Stitching

Saddle-stitching is the least expensive and simplest binding method available. In the saddle-stitching process, parent sheets are cut, folded, and stapled together to form a finished booklet. This type of binding is used for single issue comic books, workbooks, shorter catalogs, cookbooks, and booklets of all kinds.

Saddle Stitching Example Stitched Booklet Comic Book Single Issue Staples

How Saddle-Stitched Binding is Made

To create a saddle-stitched piece, printed parent sheets are first cut and folded using a folding machine. Then the folded pages are fed through a special machine, which inserts two staples into the spine of the booklet.

Design Considerations

Unlike most other binding methods, saddle-stitching doesn’t come with any design-specific restrictions.  Since the pages open completely flat, images can extend across two pages (known as a double-page spread) without the chance that any content will be lost in the gutter.

Cover Design
Covers for saddle-stitched projects are the exact same size as the inside pages of the project.

Production Time

After being sent to press, saddle-stitched projects take one to two weeks to manufacture, after which they are shipped out to you via your chosen shipping method. Be sure to check our turnaround time page to see how much time your project will take based on your proofing and shipping options.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Perfect Binding

In perfect binding (also known as softcover binding), pages are folded, gathered, sewn, and glued into a cover to form a squared-off spine. Perfect binding is the preferred binding method for graphic novels, trade paperbacks, softcover children’s books, coloring books, catalogs, literary journals, and quarterly magazines. Keep reading to learn more about how PrintNinja’s superior softcover binding method will ensure your softcover book is built to last.

Softcover Perfect Binding Design and Production Example

What Is Perfect Binding?

In traditional perfect binding, sheets are printed, folded, and assembled into their proper page order. From there, the side of the book block is cut off, and the pages are glued into a cover to form a squared-off spine.

However, this methodology leads to perfect bound books that don’t open flat, and with pages that can fall out over time.

PrintNinja uses a more sophisticated method, where instead of cutting the book block, the pages are smyth sewn together before being glued into the cover. This methodology provides a far more durable finished product, since the pages are both sewn and glued, and the books can open much flatter, so much less content is lost in the gutter between pages.

Perfect Binding Cover Design Considerations

Because the book block is glued into the cover, perfect bound books have a 10 millimeters area on the inside covers that will be glued to the first and last inside pages. It’s important to keep that in mind when designing your inside covers, because artwork may be lost in the glued area.

Cover Design

Because perfect bound projects have a spine width that varies based on number of pages and paper weight, every perfect bound cover has different size requirements. You can use our perfect binding cover template to design your cover.

Design a softcover children's book, Perfect Binding Inside Cover Glued

PrintNinja Tip

Ready to Get Started?

You’d be surprised just how many options you can quote instantly on our book pricing calculator. Save a quote today so you can lock in your perfect bound book price for 90 days.

Get Your Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Case Binding

What happens in the case binding process?

If you’re deciding on a cover type for your project, you may be wondering how different covers are made. Case binding, also called hardcover binding, gets its name from the hard outside “case” used to cover books. Hardcover books are bound differently than softcover books and can encompass different types of paper. Case-bound books with fewer than 60 pages are expertly hand-assembled, while those with higher page counts are assembled by machine.

How Case Binding is Made

As with other binding methods, casebound books start with printed parent sheets, which are cut, folded, and gathered. Then, the pages are smyth sewn into a book block. Cloth is then added to the spine area, where it will be glued into the case.
The case (the hard cover of the book) is made next. Assembly teams glue and fold a printed sheet (your cover, spine, and back design) around three pieces of board.

Finally, the inside pages (the book block) are glued into the hard cover (the case). In books with 60 pages or more, endsheets are also used to firmly secure the book block to the case.

The final assembly process varies according to different page counts. Lower page counts are hand-assembled, while higher page counts can be machine-assembled. While the gutter and binding of hand-assembled books is more visible, every case-bound book we produce always meets our high PrintNinja quality standards.

Most casebound books are sewn by machine, but books with lower pagecounts (usually under 60 pages) will be carefully sewn by hand.
Machine vs. Hand Sewing
Most casebound books are sewn by machine, but books with lower pagecounts (usually under 60 pages) will be carefully sewn by hand.
Now expertly sewn together, the pages become book blocks. This keeps the pages neatly aligned when they’re assembled in the case.
Book Blocks
Now expertly sewn together, the pages become book blocks. This keeps the pages neatly aligned when they’re assembled in the case.
A thin strip of cloth is added to the spine. The book block is now complete. Next, it’s time to make the case itself.
Cloth Spine
A thin strip of cloth is added to the spine. The book block is now complete. Next, it’s time to make the case itself.
The cover artwork is printed onto a sheet and cut into shape. The front cover, back cover, and spine are printed onto one continuous sheet.
The Cover is Printed
The cover artwork is printed onto a sheet and cut into shape. The front cover, back cover, and spine are printed onto one continuous sheet.
The cover artwork is then glued around three pieces of board. Careful gluing ensures a smooth, professional cover.
The Cover is Glued
The cover artwork is then glued around three pieces of board. Careful gluing ensures a smooth, professional cover.
The inside pages are glued into the hard cover. Depending on the total page count, endsheets may also be used to secure the book block to the case.
Final Assembly
The inside pages are glued into the hard cover. Depending on the total page count, endsheets may also be used to secure the book block to the case.

Design Considerations

Your inside covers will consist of pages glued to the inside of the hardcover case. Authors may wish to include blank pages to preface their work, so be sure these are incorporated into your submitted artwork if you see fit.

If your project exceeds 60 pages, you’ll also have an opportunity to design endsheets. Remember, these special pages secure the book block to the cover. Your design options for these are virtually endless! Some authors select endsheets in solid colors, while others choose eye-catching designs suited for their book’s overall tone or theme. This decision is entirely yours to make!

You have many options to consider for your cover design, too. Again, your cover design is printed on a single sheet and glued around three pieces of board. You will therefore need to envision your book’s cover, spine, and back of your book, and come up with a design with proper measurements. Your design will also leave a little extra space for bleed, fold cover, and hinge.

Finally, you can also consider a dust jacket to give your hardcover an extra-professional feel and an added layer of protection. If this sounds like a lot to think about, fear not! We’ll walk you through all of these considerations in our case binding cover layout guide to make sure you’re entirely satisfied with the design of your hardcover.

Production Time

After being sent to press, case-bound projects take approximately three weeks to manufacture. Then, they are shipped out to you via your chosen shipping method. Check our turnaround time page to learn about projected time frames based on proofing and shipping options.

Ready to Get Started?

PrintNinja’s hardcover book calculator makes it easy to take the next step in creating your hardcover book. Our calculator is pre-populated with popular options, but you can customize just about anything. You can also save your quote for 90 days, so it’s no problem if you’re not quite ready to print yet.

Get My Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Board Book Binding

Board books are made via a special binding process that produces a book with very thick paperboard pages, suitable for children’s books for young children, or for projects like art books and creative books that seek to emulate this feel.

How Board Books are Made

Unlike other books, board books are not ‘bound’ in the traditional sense.  Instead, during the board book binding process,  2-page spreads are printed on parent sheets, then cut, assembled, and glued together by hand, one set of pages at a time.

PrintNinja’s board books use the highest quality construction, with an extra sheet of board between the printed sheets for added thickness, durability, and climate tolerance to prevent the books from warping (a very common problem with board books).

Design Considerations

Unlike most other binding methods, board book page counts do not have to go in increments of 4.  Because they are assembled by hand instead of via a folding process, they can be in increments of 2 (both sides of a sheet of paper).

Finally, board books typically have a lamination finish (which is usually reserved for covers) throughout their inside pages. This lamination can be gloss or matte, and it serves to increase the durability of the overall book.

Board Book Binding Artwork Setup Guide

Production Time

After being sent to press, board book projects take three weeks to manufacture, after which they are shipped out to you via your chosen shipping method.  Be sure to check our turnaround time page to see how much time your project will take based on your proofing and shipping options.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Wire and Spiral Binding

What is the most typical usage for wire and spiral binding?

Wire Coil Spine Binding Design and Production Explained

Spiral Coil Spine Binding Design and Production Explained

In wire and spiral binding, holes are drilled along one side of the printed pages, and then either a wire comb is clamped down into the holes, or a plastic spiral is threaded through them.  Wire and Spiral binding both lay very flat and are often used for cookbooks and manuals.

How Spiral and Wire Binding is Made

To create a wire or spiral bound book, parent sheets are first printed, cut and assembled (but not folded, unlike other binding methods).  Holes are then drilled into the binding edge of the document.  For wire binding, these holes are straight up and down, and for spiral binding they are drilled at a precise angle that depends upon the size and thickness of the book and the plastic spiral used. From there, either wire comb is threaded and clamped down by hand (for wire binding) or spiral is threaded through the holes by hand (spiral binding) to create the final product.

Design Considerations

The most important thing to remember when designing a wire or spiral bound project is that holes will be drilled 10 millimeters inside the trim line on the bound side of the document.  Because of this, we recommend keeping all important content at least 10mm inside of the trim line on the side that will be bound, since any content inside those 10 millimeters may be obscured by the holes drilled or by the binding itself.

Another thing to consider with wire and spiral bound projects is that unlike most other binding methods, your page counts do not have to go in increments of 4.  Instead, they can be in increments of 2 (both sides of a sheet of paper), since wire and spiral books do not have to be folded in the binding process.

Finally, wire and spiral pages can have finishes (which are usually reserved for covers) throughout their inside pages.  Many manuals designed for outdoor use or cookbooks designed to be spill-resistant will use a lamination on every page.

Cover Design
Covers for wire and spiral bound projects are the exact same size as the inside pages of the project.

Production Time

After being sent to press, wire and spiral bound projects take three weeks to manufacture, after which they are shipped out to you via your chosen shipping method. Be sure to check our turnaround time page to see how much time your project will take based on your proofing and shipping options.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Book Paper Options

Paper options for your book printing project are classified by weight, coating, and finish. All papers are manufactured with a weight and a coating, while finishes are applied after printing.

Paper Types Options Weight Coating Finish

Book Paper Weight:

Paper weight is the thickness of a chosen paper stock, stated as a number and a category. The units GSM, pound (lb), and points (pt) are commonly used to describe the weight, or thickness of paper stock. However, these terms are not interchangeable and will result in significantly different paper thicknesses.

(e.g. 85lb text, 12pt cover)

Click here for more information on each of the paper weights offered by PrintNinja.

 Book Paper Coating:

Paper coating is the chemical coating applied to a paper during the manufacturing process.

(e.g. coated gloss, coated matte, uncoated)

Click here for more information on each of the paper coatings offered by PrintNinja.

Book Paper Finish:

Paper finish is applied to a finished printed product to seal in the ink and increase durability, stated as a finish style and type. Finishes are usually only applied to your book’s cover pages.

(e.g. gloss lamination, matte varnish, UV varnish).

Click here for more information on each of the paper finishes offered by PrintNinja.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Paper Weight

The PrintNinja sample pack allows you to feel available paper stocks

The PrintNinja sample pack allows you to feel available paper stocks

The term paper weight is seen frequently in the printing business and is used to describe the thickness, or caliper, of paper stock. At PrintNinja, we offer a wide variety of quality paper stocks to ensure your project comes out just like you imagined. There are many phrases used to describe paper weight and it is important to understand these before printing your project.

GSM vs. pound (lb.) vs. points (pt.)

The units GSM, pound (lb), and points (pt) are commonly used to describe the weight, or thickness of paper stock. However, these terms are not interchangeable and will result in significantly different paper thicknesses.

  • GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter and is an exact measure of how heavy or thick a paper is. GSM is used across all paper types and makes comparing different types of paper easier.
  • Pound is the weight of 500 parent sheets of a particular type of paper and is generally used for describing text or offset stock. To learn more about parent sheets, visit our paper and cardstock guide.
  • Point is a term most commonly used to describe cover stock and card stock. One point is equal to 1/1000 (.001) inches. For example, a 10pt. cover stock will measure 0.010 inches thick.
The average comic book uses 70lb. text paper stock

The average comic book uses 70lb. text paper stock

Text (offset) vs. Cover Stock

The terms text and cover stock are named for how the paper is generally used. Text stock, also called offset stock, which is usually measured in pounds (lb.), is most often used on internal pages. Cover stock, measured in points (pt.), is commonly used on cover pages. However, this is not a steadfast rule and text and cover stocks are often used for both. The term cover stock is generally used to describe paper that is 135-300 GSM.

The primary difference between these is the paper thickness, cover stock being thicker and more rigid than text. It is important when noting paper weight to take into account both the numerical weight as well as the type of paper. For example, 100lb text stock sounds thicker than 65lb cover, however, cover stock parent sheets are much smaller which means an equally thick parent sheet will weigh less.

Paper Weight Comparisons

Unfortunately, because of the complexity of paper thickness, there is no equation to convert various paper types to weight. However, we’ve created the chart on the left comparing the most common paper stock weights.


PrintNinja’s Available Paper Stocks

55lb. text

The lightest of our paper stocks, this is typically used for the pages of novels, or for workbooks (80 GSM metric weight). For reference, this is approximately 20lb bond, which is the thickness of average computer or copy paper.

70lb. text

The thickness of an average comic book page, 70lb. text is also used for catalogs with high page counts (105 GSM metric weight).

85lb. text

This versatile, medium weight paper is commonly used for magazines, catalogs, and booklets of all varieties. It is also our recommended inside paper weight for hardcover books with page counts higher than 60 (128 GSM metric weight).

105lb. text

This stock is typically used for the inside pages of children’s books, as well as coffee table and art books. It is also our recommended cover stock for single issue comic books and many other saddle stitched projects (157 GSM metric weight). It is also commonly seen used in brochures.

135lb. text

The heaviest of our text stocks, 135lb. is suitable for the inside pages of children’s books or coffee table books that want an extra-heavy page feel. It also works well as a cover stock for many saddle stitched projects (200 GSM metric weight).

10pt. cover

The lightest cover stock we offer, 10pt. cover is a great fit for catalog covers, and is often the best choice for the cover of any perfect bound project 6″ x 9″ or smaller (250 GSM metric weight).

12pt. cover

A medium weight cover stock often used as the cover paper for trade paperbacks, graphic novels, and many perfect bound projects larger than 6″ x 9″ (300 GSM metric weight).

14pt. cover

The heaviest cover stock we offer, 14pt. cover gives a rugged, durable feel and is often used for any project that will be handled a lot, for very thick perfect bound projects of any variety such as catalogs or graphic novels, or for oversized projects larger than 8.5″ x 11″ (350 GSM metric weight).


Now that you fully understand common paper weight terms, as well as how they are used and measured, see how your paper choice affects the price of your project with our instant quote calculator. If you don’t see what you’re looking for or need help feel free to contact us. Or, if you want to continue learning about paper options such as coatings and finishes, see our Paper Options page.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Paper Coating

PrintNinja offers various different paper coating options. These coatings are applied during paper manufacturing, as opposed to paper finishes, which are applied after printing. Each coating comes with unique advantages detailed below.

Coated Gloss

Coated Gloss

Coated Gloss

Gloss coating applied during manufacturing, giving your project a reflective shine. Coated gloss papers are our most popular variety, and are commonly used to convey professionalism. This results in rich colors and crisp resolution, making images “pop.” Catalogs, magazines, and children’s books are all examples of projects best printed on with coated gloss. However, fingerprints may become apparent on these types of projects due to their high shine.


Coated Matte

Coated Matte

Coated Matte

Matte paper also has a coating applied during manufacturing. Unlike gloss coating, matte coating gives a diffused sheen, which boosts the contrast of photos and offers a smoother presentation than uncoated. These type of matte papers are often used for art books, lookbooks, literary journals, graphic novels and any other project requiring a more subtle shine.


Like What You See? Get Your Price.

Once you’ve chosen your paper coating, you’re one step closer to instantly calculating your price. Check out our calculator to configure your project and see your price.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Paper Finish

PrintNinja offers various types and styles of paper finish. Paper finishes are applied after printing, and are usually only applied to a project’s cover. Finishes each have a type (e.g. varnish or lamination) and a style (e.g. gloss or matte). If you’re not sure, we recommend ordering a sample pack so you can see your options in person.

Varnish is a liquid finish applied via the printing press to seal in and protect the ink on the printed surface. It is available in gloss, matte, and UV, and is usually matched to the coating of the underlying paper. Varnish makes a great cover finish for saddle-stitched products like comic books and magazines.
Varnish
Varnish is a liquid finish applied via the printing press to seal in and protect the ink on the printed surface. It is available in gloss, matte, and UV, and is usually matched to the coating of the underlying paper. Varnish makes a great cover finish for saddle-stitched products like comic books and magazines.
Lamination is a thin polypropylene film applied to the surface of the paper after printing using a roller. It provides the ultimate in protection, and is available in both gloss and matte. The sheen and texture of lamination is much more pronounced than varnish, and gloss lamination is very shiny, while matte lamination is very smooth. Perfect bound and case bound books should always use a lamination for their covers to prevent any damage to the printed surface during the binding process.
Lamination
Lamination is a thin polypropylene film applied to the surface of the paper after printing using a roller. It provides the ultimate in protection, and is available in both gloss and matte. The sheen and texture of lamination is much more pronounced than varnish, and gloss lamination is very shiny, while matte lamination is very smooth. Perfect bound and case bound books should always use a lamination for their covers to prevent any damage to the printed surface during the binding process.
Not all projects require a finish, and if your project is saddle-stitched, without heavy ink coverage on the cover, you can choose to skip the finish altogether.
No Finish
Not all projects require a finish, and if your project is saddle-stitched, without heavy ink coverage on the cover, you can choose to skip the finish altogether.

PrintNinja Tip

Like What You See? Get Your Price.

Once you’ve chosen your paper finish, you’re one step closer to instantly calculating your price. Check out our calculator to configure your project and see your price.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Specialty Paper Options

In need of specialty paper options? We can help.

Choosing the paper stock that will bring your story to life doesn’t have to stop at the standard. In addition to our standard paper types, we offer a multitude of specialty paper options, cuts and styles to help your project express its unique personality and stand out in the crowd.

Select one of our specialty paper options below to learn more.

Specialty Paper Options

The feeling of turning pages can be more memorable with textured paper.
Textured Paper
The feeling of turning pages can be more memorable with textured paper.
Uncoated off-white paper stock gives a unique, raw feel.
Off-White Paper
Uncoated off-white paper stock gives a unique, raw feel.
Be eco-friendly with FSC certified paper stock and soy-based ink.
Eco-Friendly Options
Be eco-friendly with FSC certified paper stock and soy-based ink.
Bespoke pop-up options for all occasions, children's books or corporate brand books.
Pop-Up Spreads
Bespoke pop-up options for all occasions, children's books or corporate brand books.
Choose from a variety of options, including painted edges, deckled edges, gilded edges, perforated pages, and rounded corners.
Custom Edges
Choose from a variety of options, including painted edges, deckled edges, gilded edges, perforated pages, and rounded corners.
A gatefold - typically found in the center of magazines or books - is a page extension that opens into six panels, three on each side.
Gatefold
A gatefold - typically found in the center of magazines or books - is a page extension that opens into six panels, three on each side.
Uncut press sheets make a great commemorative gift or Kickstarter reward.
Extra Press Sheets
Uncut press sheets make a great commemorative gift or Kickstarter reward.
Used for design elements or offer a unique functional feature on your interior pages and book cover.
Die Cuts and Flaps
Used for design elements or offer a unique functional feature on your interior pages and book cover.
Perfect for activity and workbooks as you can easily draw on and wipe off for repeated use.
Double Lamination
Perfect for activity and workbooks as you can easily draw on and wipe off for repeated use.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Textured Paper

Add some tactile pizazz to your book’s cover or interior pages with one of our textured paper finishes! Our standard and non-standard texture options will help give your book a feel that’s one-of-a-kind.

 Textures

Standard Textures

Standard Textures

Making a softcover or saddle stitched book? Consider printing your cover on one of our three pre-made textured papers to add some additional visual and tactile interest. These textures are available in weights starting at 120lb text and are perfect for that durable-yet-classy look. When using textured cover stock, we recommend abstaining from laminated finishes as they have a tendency of obscuring the appearance of the texture.

In addition to our textured cover stock, we also have a linen texture available that can be added to your interior pages. This texture is made by physically imprinting our standard paper and is the perfect option for anyone looking to spice things up on a budget. Our linen texture looks best when added to paper between 85lb text and 10pt cover, which is the sweet spot for getting the most noticeable textured effects on every page. Feel free to check out all of our available paper weights.


Custom Textures

Custom Textures

Custom Textures

If you’re looking for a specific texture outside of the standard textures we have readily available, we also have special custom-made textures that are manufactured with patterns pre-engrained in them as part of the paper-making process. We have 3 options available for pre-textured cover stocks. 1# Eggshell (off white) #2 Felt and #3 Stucco. These are available in the following weights:

120 lb text, 12 pt, and 14pt

Because these custom textures are uniquely crafted and made-to-order, they are notably pricier than their standard texture counterparts and will require a custom quote.

We can also apply a linen texture to a variety of our stocks. This texture is applied to existing stock and can be applied to the following weights:

85 lb uncoated, 95 lb uncoated, 105 lb coated(matte or gloss) and uncoated, 135 lb coated(matte and gloss)

10 pt coated(matte and gloss) and uncoated, 12 pt coated(matte and gloss) and uncoated

12 pt 1 sided gloss coated, 14 pt coated (matte and gloss) , 14 pt 1 sided gloss coated


Custom Textures

Uncoated

Uncoated

Uncoated paper has no coating applied. This choice is well suited for projects where the paper will be written on, such as workbooks, coloring books, calendars, training manuals, or any materials covered in text. It can also be used to achieve the look of a golden or silver age comic book, which were historically printed on newsprint. A large amount of textures and finishes are available for uncoated paper.


Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Off-White Paper

Interested in an off-white paper look for your project? We can help.

Off-White Inside Book Paper Stock

Off-White Inside Book Paper Stock

In addition to our normal white paper, we also offer uncoated paper stocks to give your book a unique, raw feel. We have a range of paper weights from 55 lb to 135 lb.

Though it doesn’t quite have the same feel, a cheaper alternative many creators pursue is to print on normal uncoated paper and simply design their art files with an off-white color background. This way the finished product looks as though it was printed on a non-white paper. Ultimately the choice is yours, so feel free to request samples of this paper option in your PrintNinja sample pack today.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Eco-Friendly Printing Options

Want to reduce your carbon footprint and choose some eco-friendly printing options for your project? We got you.

FSC Paper

We work with facilities that are CoC-certified to print with environmentally-friendly Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. We can substitute FSC paper for any of our standard paperweights.

Please Note: FSC certified paper does require a large minimum as unique lots of paper are ordered specifically for the job you intend to print. To quote for FSC paper we require Minimum Order Quantities in the following range:
For less than 60 inside pages we require 10,000 units.
Between 60 and 100 pages, 7,500 units.
Between 100 and 200 pages, 5000 units.
More than 200 pages, 2000 units.

Learn more about FSC certification.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.


Soy Ink

Another great eco-friendly printing option we offer is soy-based ink.

Complement your FSC paper with our soy-based inks for an environmentally friendly alternative to our standard inks.

The ink is derived from combining refined soy-bean oil with other natural resins and waxes. The upcharge for soy ink is modest, and you can indicate your environmental sensitivity in your advertising materials and on the book itself. And if you think you have to give up quality for sustainability then THINK AGAIN: because soybean oil is naturally clearer than most petroleum-based inks, your colors will look just as bright if not brighter on your pages.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Pop-Up Spreads

Pop-up Paper Engineer Animal Book

Creating a pop-up book is no longer out of your reach! We can provide pop-ups, pull tabs, and flaps for an interactive experience. To move forward we need a few pieces of information:

  • Sketches with size information and a rough idea of how you want your pop-up to be elevated.
  • Files of your design with dielines so we can see how the paper needs to be creased, perforated, slotted or strengthened.
  • In some cases we may need a basic paper prototype.

If this is out of your skill zone, no worries! We have relationships with experienced paper engineers who will work on the mechanics so you can focus on creating the artwork. There is an extra cost associated with this option, but it will yield the highest quality product.

PrintNinja Tip
Pop-ups are no longer just for children’s books. If you’ve been looking for a way to have your corporate or brand books stand out try adding a one page pop-up spread.

Paper Engineering for Pop-Up Books

Paper Engineering for Pop-Up Books

File Submission Guidelines

In order to produce a pop-up book we need your files to be marked up appropriately so we know where to fold and add glue. This is a technical task, so we have partnered with expert paper engineers who can take your flat PDF files and work out the mechanics, make a prototype, and add die lines.

Like what you see? Get a quote.

Since pop-up books are incredibly unique, you’ll need to request a custom quote. Let us know as many details as possible about your pop-up book, such as size, page count, number of pop-ups, and order quantity. Once we get your request, we’ll reach out for any additional details needed to get your custom quote. We may request to see some designs in order to better determine the cost.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Custom edges

Coming Soon!

Painted Edges

Painted Book Edges Fore-Edge Splatter

Painted Book Edges Fore-Edge Splatter

There are many types of edge treatments that can be applied to your book. A popular choice is painting a solid color or applying gilt — a metallic color, typically gold or silver — on the paper’s edge.

Edge coloring is a great way to catch the eye of a potential customer and our artisans can accommodate any color of your choice to make it pop.

Important Consideration

Adding painted edges to your project will increase your production timeline by 3-5 days. Before you can worry about that, you’ll need to make sure your book has a thickness of at least 8mm to achieve the optimal apperance.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Painted Book Edges Splatter

Painted Book Edges Fore-Edge Splatter

Design Inspiration

Get creative and your possiblities will be endless. The book in the photo to the right combined the following specialty features to give it a creatively unique style:

Deckled Edges

What are deckled edges? Are they right for your project with PrintNinja?

Deckled Paper Edges Book

Deckled Paper Edges Book

Also referred to as feathered edges, deckled edges are rough and irregularly cut edges of a book’s interior paper. In the past, deckled edges were a product of the binding process and could only be trimmed off for a hefty price. Thanks to modern binding technology, it’s now possible to easily create the appearance of smooth edges, which has turned deckle-edged books into a rare sighting. But, if you still want that vintage feel, this can be a great way to add that aesthetic to your project.

Deckled paper can give your book a refined, bespoke look and feel that stands out next to modern books.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Gilded Edges

What are gilded edges? And are they right for your project?

Edge gilding is the process of applying a metallic foil to the outer edges of your book. Typically gilt service is offered in gold or silver, but our expert artisans will gild your books in any foil color of your choice. This is a great way to conjure up luxury, elegance and overall a special aura surrounding your project.

Important Considerations

A gilt edge can only be applied to perfect binding and case-bound books. Your project should have at least 1cm of thinkness on the paper edge of your book, otherwise the giltting effect will not be very visible. Please note, this specialty option will add 3 -5 days onto your production turn around time.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Gilded Edges Gold Foil Edges

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Perforated Pages

What are perforated pages? Are they right for your printed project?

perforated-pages

Perforated Pages

Perforated pages are a great option when you need a page to be easily removed. There are tons of potential reasons why you might include them in your project: you can perforate your coloring book so the pages can be stuck on the fridge, or perforate a document that needs to be removed and mailed away. You can also add a perforation to a page in a spiral or wire bound notebook to avoid ugly torn edges. You can even combine perforated printing with our easel stand covers option to create a desk calendar with daily, tear-away pages! PrintNinja gives you the option to add this feature to individual pages or an entire book.

Use our custom calculator to request this option be included in your quote. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Like what you see? Get a quote.

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our calculator. We’ll start working on your custom quote within one business day of receiving your request.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Rounded Corners

What are rounded corners? Are they right for your PrintNinja project?

Children's Board Book Rounded Corners

Children's Board Book Rounded Corners

Rounded corners are the unsung hero of specialty paper options. They can serve many purposes for your project. The shape reduces the wear and tear of corners since they are less likely to be bent than a pointed corner. These types of corners are standard for board books and a great option for any children’s book as they protect children from accidental paper cuts. Since pointed corners are considered the norm, rounded corners can add a creative style to your project.

PrintNinja can round the corners of your book and card game by .25″ radius (typically books) or .125″ radius (typically cards).

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.  Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Gatefold/Centerfold

Interested in adding a gatefold or centerfold to your printing project? We can help.

Gatefold Centerfold Open

Gatefold Centerfold Open

A gatefold or centerfold is an oversized page that is folded into a magazine or book – typically found in the center of your project – that opens into six panels (3 pages back and front) or eight panels for a double gatefold. Gatefolds encourage the reader to unfold the page making it a perfect place for important information, beautiful artwork, or advertisements.

Design Considerations

Make the most out of your centerfold with specialty features. A popular choice is the addition of perforated edges to allow the reader to pull out a poster or form. Another common option is spot UV, an enhancement that adds visual appeal and a tactile sensation.

We offer many specialty paper options to help fulfill your objective.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Extra Press Sheets

Interested in ordering extra press sheets as a contributor reward tier for your crowdfunding printing project? We can help.

Uncut Parent Sheet Press Sheet

Uncut Parent Sheet Press Sheet

Full, uncut press sheets make a great commemorative gift or Kickstarter reward. If you’d like, we can print extra sheets from your print run and ship them to you separately. Typical press sheets are 16 pages of a book or 55 cards of a card game.

Unlike physical proofs, since these are set up for your actual print run you cannot choose the individual pages that are on the press sheet.

Pricing

Extra press sheets are a somewhat affordable add-on: 5 press sheets for $100.
Add $50 for every 5 press sheets beyond that.

List this item in our add-on box while locking in your price on our calculator. We will get back to you with a quote within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Die Cut and Adding Flaps

What does it mean to die cut your book? Can you add flaps to your book? Are either of these options right for you?

die-cut-flap

Die Cut Flap

Die cutting your book adds an extra special custom look to your project. Whether you’re cutting a hole through the cover, or flaps for a children’s book, this special option is versatile and fun. Die cut your dust jacket to show the hard cover underneath, cut a window through the whole book, cut an area to be hidden by a flap. Want your book die cut in the shape of a Ninja? We can do that! (We’d love to do that.)  Your imagination is the limit on this flexible added feature.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Double Lamination

What is double lamination? Is it right for your book project?

Lamination and Dry Erase Workbook

Lamination and Dry Erase Workbook

If you’re looking to provide your audience with a fun interactive experience, consider adding gloss or matte lamination to both sides of your interior pages.

As a protective coating, lamination is often reserved for a book’s outer cover, a.k.a. the most vulnerable part of your book to general wear and tear. However, when added to your book’s interior pages, double lamination also provides each page with a surface that can be easily drawn on and wiped off for repeated use. This is a great feature to include for workbooks and activity books, or if you’re just really messy.

This treatment is an exclusive option for wire and spiral bound books.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas! We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you determine whether this is the right choice for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Endsheets

When to Use Book Endsheets Endpages Example

Endsheets, also known as endpapers or endleaves, are the pages at the beginning and end of hardcover books that are used to glue the inside pages (known as the “book block”) to the hardcover.

Hardcover book endsheets are usually made from uncoated paper stock which is slightly heavier than the paper used for the inside pages. When you’re using our instant calculator to price your book, keep in mind that the endsheets are already included in your price for books with 60 or more pages. Endsheets generally aren’t necessary for books with less than 60 pages, but if you’d like to add them you can enter that request in our “additional info” field when you save your quote. We will update your quote with that cost included and send you an updated price and spec information.


How Endsheets Are Glued

Design Considerations

Typically, endsheets are either left blank, printed with a solid color, or printed with a pattern. However, PrintNinja is not limited to those choices and can print anything you’d like on your endsheets. If you opt for custom artwork on your endsheets, keep in mind that the endsheets and the inside pages will be glued together on the innermost 10mm. Thus, these pages are not well suited for designs that span both pages.

Like what you see? Get your price.

You’d be surprised just how many options you can quote instantly on our book pricing calculator. If there’s anything you don’t see, let us know and we’ll get you a custom quote in around one business day.

Get Your Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Measuring Your Book Size for Printing

This article will teach you how to determine your book size for printing.

Since the first project rolled off PrintNinja’s presses in 2009, we’ve printed over six million copies of books, cards, games, and more. From tabbed catalog pages to book covers that double as drink coasters, we’ve just about seen it all. During the prepress process, one of the most common questions we are asked is how to properly measure your book. No matter what type of project you are printing, it is critical to understand the correct measurements of your book so that it turns out exactly like you imagine.

To measure the size of your book, all you need is a:

  • Book
  • Ruler
  • Sturdy flat object (such as a book or piece of cardboard)
  • Flat surface

Start with the height, which is the dimension parallel to the spine. Lay your book on a flat surface and hold the piece of cardboard against your book at the bottom of the spine. Place your ruler against the cardboard and measure to the top of your book, making sure to account for the extra length at the end of the ruler. Then do the same for the the width, which is the dimension perpendicular to the spine. You can see these steps illustrated in the photos. Measure to the nearest 1/8 of an inch.

If you’re printing a hardcover book, the cover extends approximately 1/8″ past the interior pages on all sides. This means that the cover of a 6″ x 9″ hardcover book will be closer to 6.25″ x 9.25″, so plan accordingly.

PrintNinja Tip

Once you have your book measurements figured out, make sure to check out our instant quote calculator to lock in your price for 90 days. Or, if you need some help with your project, contact our print experts for information.

Common Book Sizes:

  • Comic Book: 6.625″ x 10.25″
  • Magazine / Catalog: 8.5″ x 11″
  • Children’s Book: 8.5″ x 11″ or 11″ x 8.5″
  • Paperback Novel: 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 6″ x 9″
  • Hardcover Novel: 6″ x 9″
  • Booklets: 8.5″ x 11″
  • Art Book: 8.5″ x 11″ or 9” x 12”
  • Photo Book: 8.5″ x 11″ or 9” x 12”

For a more comprehensive list of standard book sizes, materials, and bindings, visit our industry standard pages.

What’s next?

We can customize just about anything, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of project types, standard sizes, materials, and bindings, visit our industry standard pages.

Learn More

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

How To Count Internal Pages For Book Printing

How do you determine the interior page count for your printing project?

For years, PrintNinja has been a foremost source for offset printing services and information. As such, our expert team sees their fair share of misunderstandings throughout the printing process. Whether you’re printing a novel, coloring book, booklet, or art book, one of the most common errors we see during the quoting process is the incorrect counting of internal pages.

Our instant quote calculator is the perfect tool for pricing your project; however, if the page count in incorrect, the price you calculate may be misleading. Here we explain the proper way to count the internal pages of your project so that your printing experience goes as smoothly as possible.

When you’re ready, we’d love to help you self-publish your book. In the meantime, we’re available to answer questions about self-publishing, the printing process, or file setup. Click here to contact us, we’re always happy to help.

Counting Your Pages

The process of counting pages is quite simple and doesn’t require any fancy tools or calculators, but without a clear understanding of how interior page counts work, it is easy to miscount.

Your book will follow the same interior page count style you’d find in any novel, children’s book, or similar printed text. Page 1 always starts on the right side and each side of the sheet counts as one page. So, when you flip page 1 over, you’ll find page 2 on the back (now on the left-hand side). Page 3 is on the right, and when you flip it over, page 4 will be on the left, 5 on the right, and so on.

If your printed project contains any blank pages, they will still factor into your overall page count. Sometimes, if a chapter finishes on a right-hand page (an odd-numbered page), authors will add a blank page directly after it so the next chapter still begins on a new right-hand page. As with every printed project, formatting options for books are entirely up to the creator!

PrintNinja Tip

Why Are Page Counts For Printing In Multiples Of Four?

Most types of binding require books to be printed with interior page counts in multiples of four. This is because the pages of your book will be printed on large sheets, called parent sheets. The sheets either hold 8, 16, or 32 pages, depending on the size of your book. Do you notice how these numbers are all multiples of four? This ensures you won’t be left with any blank pages when the parent sheets are folded. Take a look at the image below for reference: the parent sheet has 8 pages per side (16 total).

After printing, sheets are folded and inserted into your book as one whole unit. As the diagram indicates, three sides of the pages are trimmed to allow for flipping. Since each set of four pages is actually just one large sheet of paper, folded and trimmed, books must have pages in multiples of fours. With that said, blank pages can be strategically added to the front or back of your book to satisfy this requirement without impacting your pagination, or the order in which your pages appear.

The multiple of four rule only applies to saddle stitched, perfect-bound, and case-bound (hardcover) books.

Full image

Exceptions to the Multiple of Four Rule

The multiple of four rule does not apply to wire bound projects, spiral bound projects, and board books. These books are bound differently, and folded sheets are not used to create the pages. Pages for these projects must only be in multiples of two.

If you’re publishing a board book for instance, your project will be printed using a different technique. Operators will print 2-page spreads and glue them to paper boards. Spiral and wire binding, which are popular for projects like activity books and cookbooks, are also printed using 2-page spreads. They are cut and drilled prior to being bound with the spiral or wire.

Interior Page Count Minimums and Maximums

It’s not the size of the book, but what’s in it that matters most! Still, if you’re wondering whether your project is a bit on the short side (or conversely, too long), you may be curious about internal page count minimums or maximums.

There’s almost always a solution for printing a book of any page count, it’s simply a matter of choosing the options to best suit your project. For instance, a saddle-stitched book with 85lb text paper can contain a maximum of 44 pages. However, if you use thinner paper – 70lb text, for instance – the page count increases to 68. If you need more pages, feel free to explore our additional binding options.

Perfect-bound books, on the other hand, always have minimum interior page counts. They too, vary based on the paper weight. The purpose is to create a volume thick enough to accommodate a spine.

Most importantly, keep in mind that you’re not locked into any single binding type. There are plenty of options available to suit each creator’s needs! To learn more, take a peek at our binding options. If you’re not sure if your interior page count, weight, and binding align, contact us and we’ll be happy to help out

Full Color vs. Black and White

This article will explain the differences in full color vs. black and white printing.

Full Color CMYK Offset Printing Process

PrintNinja offers two types of printing: full-color CMYK printing (also known as 4-color process or 4/4) and black and white printing (also known as black-only or 1-color process or 1/1).

CMYK Printing

Full-color CMYK printing uses four colors of ink: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK (also known as Key) to create millions of colors. Though different from digital RGB printing, CYMK printing can create many colors, and creates a beautiful, quality finish that digital printing can not provide.

Black (K) Only Printing

Black and white or black-only printing just uses one color of ink: black (also known as Key, or K).

Black and white printing is more cost-effective since it requires less setup, but it’s important to note that the black produced using only K will not be as deep as Rich Black, which is produced using all four colors of CMYK.

Black and White Black-Only K Offset Printing Process

When you’re setting up your files for print, be sure to review PrintNinja’s Printing Color Guide. It addresses the most common color pitfalls and mistakes customers make, including RGB vs. CMYK, standard black vs. rich black, spot colors / color matching, and more.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Book-Specific Specialty Options

What types of specialty book covers does PrintNinja offer?

These are our book-specific specialty options. If you don’t see see what you’re looking for in one of our specialty book covers, we bet you can find it in our most popular add-ons section. Select an option below to learn more.

You can have as many variant covers as you'd like, or choose to do a sketch cover as a special edition.
Variant/Sketch Covers
You can have as many variant covers as you'd like, or choose to do a sketch cover as a special edition.
Used to protect your cover and provide the reader with another piece of art.
Dust Jacket
Used to protect your cover and provide the reader with another piece of art.
For perfect bound books, we can create covers that fold over at the ends.
French Folds
For perfect bound books, we can create covers that fold over at the ends.
Add warmth with cloth, or richness with PU leather covers.
Cloth and Leather
Add warmth with cloth, or richness with PU leather covers.
Add pockets to your inside front and back covers.
Folder Pockets
Add pockets to your inside front and back covers.
We can drill custom holes so that your project can be inserted into three-hole binders or hung.
Hole Drilling
We can drill custom holes so that your project can be inserted into three-hole binders or hung.
The best of both binding worlds, at a fraction of the cost.
Split Binding
The best of both binding worlds, at a fraction of the cost.
Add value to your project by including bonus features. This option works well for Kickstarter rewards.
CD/DVD Sleeves
Add value to your project by including bonus features. This option works well for Kickstarter rewards.
An alternative to the ridged hard bound case, and sturdier than perfect covers.
Boardless Case Binding
An alternative to the ridged hard bound case, and sturdier than perfect covers.
All our binding comes with standard backs. If you want a classic feel, ask for our rounded option.
Rounded and Backed Case Binding
All our binding comes with standard backs. If you want a classic feel, ask for our rounded option.
Add some character to your book with horizontal raised bands along your spine.
Raised Band Spine
Add some character to your book with horizontal raised bands along your spine.
You aren't limited to traditional binding. Accordion folded books are making a comeback.
Accordion Books
You aren't limited to traditional binding. Accordion folded books are making a comeback.
An easy way to make your book durable and soft is to add a padded cover.
Padded Covers
An easy way to make your book durable and soft is to add a padded cover.
Prop up your cookbook or calendar with a built-in easel stand.
Easel Stand
Prop up your cookbook or calendar with a built-in easel stand.
Perfect for babies first book or other readers with sensitive hands.
Foam Covers
Perfect for babies first book or other readers with sensitive hands.
Avoid scuffs on your cover by adding a special coating.
Aqueous Coating
Avoid scuffs on your cover by adding a special coating.
Golden tape can be applied to your spine to mimic the Little Golden Books style.
Golden Binding
Golden tape can be applied to your spine to mimic the Little Golden Books style.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Variant / Sketch Covers

Alternative Variant Book Cover Design Options

Variant Covers

Prevalent with comic books, variant covers refers to a comic printed with multiple covers. The purpose of these covers is to encourage fans to acquire multiple copies in order to complete their collection.

You can print as many variant covers as you like. X-Men #1 published the issue using five different images that formed a single image when laid side by side.

Pricing for variant covers are based on the number of designs you have.



Sketch Book Cover Comic

Sketch Covers

Sketch covers are blank comic book covers often printed as special editions. The surface is generally uncoated so other artists can easily draw their own cover art. Your original cover artwork will still make an appearance as the first page inside the sketch cover. As you can see in the photo to the right the creator decided to make the sketch cover on the backside of their book.



Project Tip Split Bindery Variant Cover Sketch Cover

Project Tip

You can combine multiple specialty options for a truly one-of-a-kind product at a fraction of the cost. For example, you can order a split bindery run with variant covers on both binding types, one of which, could be a sketch cover.


Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Dust Jackets

What kind of dust jackets does PrintNinja offer?

Dust Jacket

Dust jackets, or book jackets, were originally used to protect the hardcover case of casebound books. Today, they are an art form all their own. PrintNinja’s are printed on 135lb text paper, and are finished with either a gloss or a matte lamination.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out our dust jacket template, plus information on how to set up the artwork for your project’s dust jacket.

Design Considerations

Dust jackets are detachable covers that wrap around your book and are held into place with folded flaps. These flaps, also called panels, make for a perfect place to print a book blurb, information about the author, or even reviews.

This is a unique specialty feature because it is an opportunity to provide the reader with another piece of art, other than what is found on your cover. A dust jacket is a great way to upgrade your book or provide a limited edition.

Traditionally dust jackets are found on hardcover books, but we have printed beautiful ones for softcover books as well. In Plain Sight made theirs more memorable by adding a variant cover design.
Softcover Dust Jacket
Traditionally dust jackets are found on hardcover books, but we have printed beautiful ones for softcover books as well. In Plain Sight made theirs more memorable by adding a variant cover design.
Dust jackets can be made in a variety of sizes and can include a variety of specialty features. Satellites chose to make theirs small but impactful.
Design Inspiration
Dust jackets can be made in a variety of sizes and can include a variety of specialty features. Satellites chose to make theirs small but impactful.
Sunborn Rising used specialty features on their gorgeous matte cover to parallel the magic of their epic fantasy world. Embossing gives the main design element depth, while spot UV pulls your eye across the title and colorful gems.
Incorporate Unique Design Elements
Sunborn Rising used specialty features on their gorgeous matte cover to parallel the magic of their epic fantasy world. Embossing gives the main design element depth, while spot UV pulls your eye across the title and colorful gems.

Ready to Get Started?

You’d be surprised just how many options you can quote instantly on our book pricing calculator. Save a quote today so you can lock in your price for 90 days, and make sure you select the checkbox to let us know you’d like a dust cover.

Get Your Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

French Folds

What are french folds? Are they right for your PrintNinja project?

French Fold Double Gated Fold Dust Jacket Book Covers

For perfect bound books, we can create covers that fold over at the ends like the flaps of a dust jacket. French folds (sometimes known as double gate folds) are a great way to add extra information to your cover and give your book a polished, unique feel.

Pricing

  • $300 for orders of 2000 copies or less.
  • $500 for orders of over 2000 copies.

Request pricing for this add-on by checking the appropriate box on our quoting calculator. More complex or extensive specialty options can be requested while you lock in your quote.

Ready to set up your file?

File setup is the same as setting up a normal cover, only you would add extra artwork for the folds on the left and right of the cover spread, similar to the flaps of a dust jacket. Keep in mind that there’s a small centering variance inherent in the printing process, so the folds of the flaps might be a millimeter or two off from your artwork. The size of your french fold flap is up to you. The example photo above shows a 6×9 inch book with 3 inch flaps.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Cloth and Faux Leather Covers

What type of cloth and faux leather covers does PrintNinja offer?

Looking to upgrade your book? Cloth and faux leather covers add an element of luxury to your project. Paired with our other specialty options like foil stamping and debossing, PrintNinja gives you the tools to create a book worthy of any library.

Create Limited Editions

Cloth and faux leather covers are a great way to create a deluxe edition of your book. We can add cloth or faux leather to part of the total run of your book. For example, you could order 1,000 copies and have 100 made special as a deluxe edition. It’s a great way to add another reward level to your crowdfunding campaign, or to thank your closest supporters.

Please note: Due to the variations inherent in the dyeing process, the fabric and leather colors and textures will vary between print runs. You can order samples of our swatches on our specialty printing options sample page.

Cloth Cover Options

Black
Black
Brown
Brown
Burgundy
Burgundy
Emerald Green
Emerald Green
Gold
Gold
Gray
Gray
Navy Blue
Navy Blue
Oatmeal
Oatmeal
Olive Green
Olive Green
Purple
Purple
Red
Red
Steel Blue
Steel Blue

Faux Leather Cover Options

Black
Black
Brown
Brown
Burgundy
Burgundy
Green
Green
Navy Blue
Navy Blue
Purple
Purple

Looking for pricing?

If you’d like to price your cloth or faux leather covered book, start by filling out our hardcover book calculator and you’ll be able to request your specialty cover after you save your quote. We’ll then follow up with you custom quote within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Folder Pockets

What kind of folder pockets does PrintNinja offer? Are they right for your project?

Folder Pocket

Adding pockets to your inside front and back covers is a great way to increase the practicality of your project. By default they are 4″ tall and the width of your cover, so the size of paper that they can hold depends on the size of your book. Books that are 9″ x 12″ or larger are able to fit standard 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper. The pockets are made using our 10pt stock and will use the same coating as your cover unless otherwise noted. Folder pockets are a great option if your project has punch-outs or is accompanied by many small pieces, adding a folder pocket may provide a convenient way for your customer to store these parts of your project. Or, if your project contains any sort of extra handout (perhaps you’re printing a textbook), this is also a great option.


Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We'll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Request Pricing

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Hole Drilling

Need hole drilling for your custom printed project? We can help.

Custom Book Hole Drilling

We can drill custom holes for your documents so that they can easily be inserted into three-hole binders. This is a great option if you’re printing a looseleaf textbook – one where instead of having a traditional softcover or hardcover book binding, students provide their own three-hole binders. This allows students to not have to carry around a huge binder with them all day long – they can pick out the section that they’re using for day and simply insert it in their binder. This is also a great option for calendars or any project that you want to hang – having a pre-drilled hole makes it much easier on your customer to hang up your calendar symmetrically. No more wrestling with a level trying to find the perfect spot to stick in the push-pin!

Pricing

  • $100 startup plus 10 cents per unit.

List this item in our add-on box while locking in your price on our calculator. We will get back to you with a quote within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, we’re happy to talk with you if you’re not sure if this option is for you. Contact one of our friendly customer service ninjas today!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Split Binding

This article will teach you about split binding and help you determine if it’s the right option for you.

Split Binding Options

If you’re interested in printing two or more versions of your book you can save money by doing a split binding run instead of placing separate orders. The interior pages for every copy are printed all at once before being separated for the different bindery runs, so the inner “guts” of your book project will need to be exactly the same in every version (the hardcover version can’t have a different copyright page than the softcover, for instance). However, you can include variant covers within both bindery runs.

Not sure if this option is right for you? Feel free to give one of our friendly customer service Ninjas a call. We can tell you more specifics about doing a split binding run, and can guide you through the process of figuring out whether split binding is right for your project.


Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We'll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Quoting Calculator

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

CD/DVD Sleeves

What type of custom CD and DVD sleeves does PrintNinja offer?

Clear PVC CD DVD Sleeve

Clear PVC CD DVD Sleeve

For certain projects, including a DVD or a CD with your book just makes sense. Maybe your book is about understanding a certain software, and you’d like to include a CD-Rom with the book so the user can follow along. Or, if your book is a compilation of lyrics from your original music, you may want to include one of your CDs so readers can read along with your lyrics as they listen. Or maybe your book is a children’s storybook, and you’d like to add a DVD with a short animation of your story on it so that children can easily watch your story on the go!

Have a CD or DVD you’d like to include with your book? Add a clear PVC sleeve to your inside front or back cover for easy storage. Please note that PrintNinja cannot create CDs or DVDs, so you will need to obtain those on your own and manually insert them.

If you will be using PrintNinja’s warehousing and fulfillment services, though, then you can save time by sending your CDs or DVDs to us and having us insert them into the custom CD and DVD sleeves in each order.

Pricing

  • $0.30 per unit.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Boardless Case Binding

What is boardless case binding?

boardless-case-bound

Boardless Case Bound

Boardless case binding is a little known binding option that’s unique and charming. This special cover option has the finish and construction of our case bound books without the rigid board inserted between the covers. The end result is a pliable soft cover with a pronounced durable edge. An excellent alternative for children’s books or journals that is sturdier than a softcover, but friendlier than its case bound cousins.

Boardless case binding can be matched with our other materials and finishes for an extra special outcome. Ask for gloss or matte lamination, pair it with foil stamping or a spot varnish. Heck, we can even replace the paper with our cloth or faux leather. Stand apart from the pack with this delightful option.

Contact us for a custom quote to add this feature.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you have any other questions, we can help you figure out if this binding style is right for you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Rounded and Backed Case Binding

rounded-backed-case-binding

A rounded and backed case binding gives your spine a classic rounded shape. This older style of bookbinding was used to accommodate hand-sewn signatures and build a shoulder and hinge for the boards of the cover. Modern rounded spines are more of an aesthetic choice that can give your book a classical old-world look and feel. As seen in the photo, a rounded and backed case binding will give your project a vintage aesthetic. You can even pair it with a raised band spine to really lean into your book looking older.

Ask for a custom quote to add a rounded and backed case binding to your project. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to ask one of our friendly customer service Ninjas for their thoughts – we’ll help you out!

Please note: The rounded spine area will be about 1-2mm wider than the standard spine width, so design accordingly.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We'll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Quoting Calculator

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Raised Band Spine

What is a raised band spine? Is it right for your PrintNinja project?

raised-band-spine

The raised band spine is a decorative feature that imitates an old book binding technique. Back in the old days when books were bound by hand, bands of thread would be used to hold all of the page signatures in place. Those bands wrapped around the spine to add stability and structure. Modern books don’t require this method, but the raised bands are still used to imitate those classic old tomes. Simulated with leather or wood, these ridges accent the spine on leather bound books.

Combine this with the rounded and backed spine for a rich antique aesthetic. Ask to add the Raised Band Spines with our faux leather option and give your project a shot of class and legitimacy. Add in gilded edges, why dontchya, and go whole hog, Mr. Fancy Pants! Your project will look like it came straight out of a Dickens novel.

Contact us for a custom quote to add this feature.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We'll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Quoting Calculator

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Accordion Books

What are accordion books?

Multifold Book With Hardcovers

Multifold Book With Hardcovers

Although we love a good old-fashioned smyth sewn book, we certainly aren’t limited to printing books with traditional turned pages. As the name suggests, accordion-style books (also known as leporello books) involve printing on elongated pieces of paper that are then glued together at the ends and folded into an accordion-style pleat. The folds alternate between the front and back so the paper stacks nicely on top of itself in its folded state.

Recommended Material

All of those folds make this style of book more vulnerable than our traditional book bindings, so we recommend using a paper stock of 105lb, which ensures the book will be both sturdy and flexible.

Pricing

This style of binding requires a custom quote. You can request pricing using our contact page. To make sure we can get you an accurate quote as soon as possible, make sure you include the following information:

-Size of each panel of the accordion book (this will also be the size when the book is completely folded up)

-Total unfolded size: this will be your panel size multiplied by the number of panels.

-Whether you want a gloss or matte finish

-Number of accordion books you’re looking to order.

(Please note that like all books, our minimum order quantity for accordion books is 250. If you’re looking for a smaller quantity, we recommend contacting Chicago Pressmen and asking about their brochure options.)

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Padded Covers

What are padded covers? Are they right for your book project?

padded book cover

To give your book some extra heft, we can build a cover that incorporates a thin layer of foam padding between layers of soft cardstock. This gives a plusher, heavier feel and protects the cover from minor dings and dents – making it a great option for children’s books, letting them withstand even the toughest of playdates. Not only is this option is perfect for giving a softer feel to children’s books, padded covers can also be used for adding protection to cookbooks, photobooks, or any other type of project that will see heavy use.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure if this option is right for you, feel free to ask us! Just reach out to one of our friendly customer service Ninjas, and they’ll gladly help you determine if this option is right for your book project.

Please note: this option can only be applied to casebound hardcover books.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Easel Stand Covers

What type of easel stand covers does PrintNinja offer?

easel-stand-cover

Easel Stand Cover

Sometimes your project needs that practical element to make it all come together – and our easel stand option is a great practical element. This cover option can transform a cookbook into countertop companion – so that your customer can easily execute your great recipes with a sauce-coated spatula in one hand and an overflowing measuring cup in the other. Use this cover style to ceate a daily calendar that can be displayed on your customer’s desk – or stowed away in a file cabinet drawer for convenience. This combination of a wire binding and a collapsable cover transforms your project into a versatile tool.

Contact us for a custom quote to add this feature.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request. Of course, if you’re not sure whether or not this option is right for you, we’ll be happy to talk to you and figure it out with you. Just give us a call and one of our friendly customer service ninjas will get back to you.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Foam Covers

What kind of foam covers does PrintNinja offer?

Foam Books

Wanting to print a book that is both fun and durable? Foam books are your dream come true. Our foam books are made of child safe EVA foam, which allows them to be cut into custom shapes and withstand even the roughest of play dates. You can even get these books wet without damaging them. Plus, no fear of errant paper cuts!


DIE CUTS

Die-cut Foam Books

EVA foam is easy to cut allowing customers to create one of a kind shapes for their products. Reach out to our Ninjas to see if one of our foam covers can be cut into the design you want!


EVA Foam Color Options

EVA Foam Color Options

Think our foam books can’t get any better? Think again! EVA foam is available in an array of colors allowing even more options to make your project one of a kind. From bubblegum pink to sky blue to sun yellow, we have so many color options that you’ll be sure to find one that is perfect for your children’s book project.


Ready to try for yourself?

To get a quote for this option, simply fill out our custom request form with your book specs. We will get back to you with a quote within several business days of receiving your request.

Request custom quote

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Aqueous Coating

What is aqueous coating?

aqueouscoating

Aqueous Coating

Varnishes work great for playing cards, comics, catalog mailers, and all sorts of other saddle-stitched projects, but any product that warrants frequent use will be much more susceptible to scratches and scuffs. That’s why we offer aqueous coating, for those projects that need a little extra protection. It also provides a very particular textural feel – kinda like velvet. If you’re interested in having a really unique texture to your project, this coating might be the right finish for you.

Applying an aqueous coating will help protect your cover against the signs of every day wear-and-tear, keeping your items looking just as good as when they first came out of the box. It also seals in the ink on the paper for extra preservation from air exposure, which is an important design consideration for collectible items like limited-run comics or exclusive card game expansion packs.

Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within several business days of receiving your request. We can also talk with you about whether we think aqueous coating is the right type of finish for your product.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Golden Tape Binding

What is golden tape binding? Is it right for your PrintNinja project?

Golden Tape Binding

Little Golden Books are a publishing house beloved for the children’s stories. Among their book portfolio, they include classics like The Poky Little Puppy, The Little Red Hen, and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. Despite how iconic their stories are, they may be most remembered for the golden binding. If you’re trying to create a book that emulates the style of Little Golden Books, golden tape binding may be the perfect option for you.

That nostalgia can be added to your project with a gold metallic sticker. This option is especially great for hardcover children’s and art books. Manufacturing only allows the sticker to be adhered to hardcover (casebound), perfect (softcover), board book bindings and dust jackets.

Dark ink can be printed on the tape to mimic the Little Golden Books pattern or to display your title. To avoid any visibility issues, light color is not printed on top of the golden tape.

Have more questions about our golden tape binding option? Feel free to contact one of our friendly customer service ninjas. We’ll be able to guide you through whether or not this option is right for your project.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Proofing Options

PrintNinja electronic proofing example

Electronic Proofing

If you are an experienced printer, working on a tight schedule, or just looking to save some money, electronic proofing is our fastest and most cost-effective option.

Our electronic proofing process begins with an in-depth file review completed by one of our pre-press experts. Once your files are print-ready, we’ll generate a PDF proof with printers’ marks that will show you how your project will look, and you get to look it over one last time before sending it to press.

Electronic Proofs are fast and cost-effective, but they won’t show you how your colors will turn out when printed.

If you are new to printing or are concerned about making sure your colors translate to print in the way you think they will, we highly recommend that you do hard copy proofing for your project instead.

  • Electronic Proofing Cost: $0
  • Electronic Proofing Turnaround: 1 Business Day
PrintNinja hard copy proofing example

Hard Copy Proofing Sheet

For those who want to see the way their colors will come out when printed offset, we offer affordable hard copy proofing as well as electronic. Hard copy proofing for games is produced differently.

Our standard hard copy proof sheet is one offset-printed parent sheet, which for most projects (8.5 in x 11 in or smaller) means 8 pages of content. Larger projects can only fit 4 pages on a parent sheet.

This sheet will be printed on the same paper stock and the same offset printing press that your final product will be printed on, so we recommend you choose the inside pages with the colors you’re most concerned about.

For an extra $150, you can also add a hard copy proof of your cover.

Additionally, you can add extra press sheets for $150 each if you need to see more than 8 inside pages.

  • Hard Copy Proofing Sheet Cost: $250* (add $150 for cover)
  • Hard Copy Proofing Sheet Turnaround: 2 Weeks“]

*In certain instances, the hard copy proofing sheet process varies as follows:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Specialty Packaging Options

We offer several specialty packaging options at PrintNinja. From sleek custom slipcases that will provide your printed project with the utmost protection,  to shrinkwrap that will make your project retail ready, we can help you find the perfect packaging option for your project with PrintNinja. Custom slipcases are a durable yet elegant style of packaging fit for any project from magazines to hardcover books. We can shrink wrap your books or games before shipping them to you, keeping them sealed and ready for sale. We also offer custom shipping packages – we can print your logo and any useful information on ready to ship packages, allowing you to send your fans more than your merchandise. This is a great way to brand your business, or, if you’re fulfilling orders from a Kickstarter campaign, a great way to ship in any extra tier prizes along with your final project. No matter your packaging problem, we can help you find a solution and get your project to your customers in style with one of our specialty packaging options.

Specialty Packaging Options

Durable yet elegant style of packaging fit for any project from magazines to hardcover books.
Custom Slipcases
Durable yet elegant style of packaging fit for any project from magazines to hardcover books.
We can shrink wrap your books or games before shipping them to you, keeping them sealed and ready for sale.
Shrink Wrap
We can shrink wrap your books or games before shipping them to you, keeping them sealed and ready for sale.
We can print your logo and any useful information on ready to ship packages, allowing you to send your fans more than your merchandise.
Custom Shipping Packages
We can print your logo and any useful information on ready to ship packages, allowing you to send your fans more than your merchandise.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Custom Slipcases

Custom slipcases not only protect your books from dust, light, and damage, but they turn your project into a beautiful display that stands out on any bookshelf.

PrintNinja can handle just about any slipcase size from magazines to DVD’s to coffee table books. Because slipcases are so customizable, the best place to start is by submitting a request for a custom quote. We’ll be able to help you determine the best dimensions so your project will fit into your slipcase comfortably.

If you order a custom slipcase for your project, we will ship your books inside their slipcases. This helps reduce your shipping costs and protects the slipcovers in transit. We never ship slipcases separately because they can be damaged in transit.

Two Book Custom Slipcase Opened

Specialty Options for Slipcovers

You can customize your slipcase with any amount of specialty features and graphics of your choice.

Slipcase Design For Perfect Softcover Book

Get Inspired

Some creators choose to repeat their cover artwork onto their slipcover, but you can also create entirely new artwork. B-Squad: Soldiers of Misfortune chose a new design for their slipcover and combined many specialty options to add value to their project, including anti-scratch matte lamination and sequential foil numbering.


Like what you see? Get a quote.

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our calculator. We’ll start working on your custom quote within one business day of receiving your request.

Get Started

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Shrink Wrap

What type of shrink wrap packaging does PrintNinja offer?

Shrink Wrapped Comic Foil Stamping

Shrink Wrapped Comic Foil Stamping

Shrink wrap is commonly used to stabilize products, unitize them, keep them clean or add tamper resistance. A lot of creators shrink wrap their comics for easy transportation to and from cons while keeping their product sanitary and adding mystery for the reader who wants to know what is inside.

Board and card games are very popular items to shrink wrap as they have many pieces that are critical to the game’s play. For the purpose of easy opening, we offer shrinkwrap that includes a pull tab, allowing the player to unravel your game’s shrinkwrap in one pull.

PrintNinja can shrink wrap any size book or board game and does so after assembling all components inside of your board or card game.

If you are planning to use a warehouse and fulfillment service we recommend shrink wrapping your product to avoid warehouse gunk damaging your project.

Shrink Wrap Packaging Pricing

$100 startup.
Plus: 25 cents per unit for projects 8.5 inches x 11 inches and smaller.
Plus: 35 cents per unit for larger projects.

List this item in our add-on box while locking in your price on our calculator. We will get back to you with a quote within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Custom Shipping Packages

What type of custom shipping packaging is available to you?

Custom Shipping Box for Books and Games

Custom Shipping Box for Books and Games

PrintNinja offers custom shipping boxes to help you represent your product and brand at all times. There are two sizes available: 10″ x 6.5″ x 3″ (seen in the photo) or 12″ x 12″ x 2″. You choose the color and information you would like on your package and we will assemble your box and product together.

Shipping Options

PrintNinja offers many shipping options for you to choose from. We can assist you with split shipping, freight forwarding, and even warehouse and fulfillment services, which includes pick and pack.

Crowdfunding Tip

When thinking about your rewards, you can cut down on cost if your reward can fit into the same packaging as your book or game. For example, rewards that can fit inside a book could include a postcard, poster, stickers etc. When adding rewards on the go, most creators overlook packaging and end up wasting money shipping two boxes to the same address.

Custom Shipping Packaging Pricing

Request pricing for this add-on while locking in your price on our quoting calculator. We’ll reach out to you with a custom quote (or questions) within 1 business day of receiving your request.

Card and Board Game Packaging Options

Custom Shipping Box for Books and Games

Product Packaging

Product packaging sells your game for you. Our team can calculate an accurate box size for all of your components so your items are secure and shipping costs are minimal. We can also help you stand out, here are some options we offer:

  • 2 Piece Box-paperboard-tin
  • Tuck Box
  • Deck Box

Add Ons:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Custom Game Printing Services

Interested in custom game printing? We can help.

When you choose to print your game using the offset printing method you open yourself up to a world of endless possibilities. Select a category below to learn more about our materials, components, customization and more.

If you’re interested in reading more about custom game printing, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed board card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

All our playing card sizes.
Playing Card Dimensions
All our playing card sizes.
The meaning of GSM and core colors.
Playing Card Material
The meaning of GSM and core colors.
How to keep you game cost effective.
Optimal Card Count
How to keep you game cost effective.
All our packaging options.
Packaging Material & Sizes
All our packaging options.
Specialty options we have available for games.
Specialty Game Options
Specialty options we have available for games.
Tips to help with your prepress process.
Artwork Recommendations
Tips to help with your prepress process.
See all our stocked game pieces and colors.
Available Game Pieces
See all our stocked game pieces and colors.
All our options for incorporating instructions into your game.
Instruction Styles
All our options for incorporating instructions into your game.
A variety of games we've printed with estimated prices.
Sample Game Pricing
A variety of games we've printed with estimated prices.
We offer physical card and board game proofs.
Game Proofing
We offer physical card and board game proofs.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Game Boards

It’s not a board game without a board! Well, sort of – for those free-spirited designers we offer two alternative playing surfaces alongside the traditional option: playmats and tiles. Of course, boards are the most common playing surface. Select a category below to learn more about your playing surface options.

Custom board size options and how to measure accurately
Size of Game Board
Custom board size options and how to measure accurately
Detailed look at your five options for panel/folds
Board Panel/Fold Options
Detailed look at your five options for panel/folds
Different finishes and board thicknesses available
Board Finishes and Thickness
Different finishes and board thicknesses available
Custom playmats for your board game surface
Playmat
Custom playmats for your board game surface
Large movable tiles for game play flexibility
Cardboard Mats/Tiles
Large movable tiles for game play flexibility
If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Size of Boards

This article will teach you more about the standards for board game sizes.

Board Game Unfold 1/4 Quarter Fold 4 Panels

For an accurate quote, you’ll need to provide us with the width and height of your board in it’s unfolded state on our quote request form. Based on this number and the panel/fold style you select, we will determine the size of your board in it’s folded formation. Keep in mind the larger your board the bigger your box will have to be.

If you need a large board we suggest checking out our playmat playing surface option. This material can be folded over more times than a board, making it possible to fit into a smaller box.

Example Sizes of Popular Board Games

  • Scrabble: 15″ x 15″ double panel – 1/2 fold.
  • Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders: 15″ x 20″ double panel – 1/2 fold.
  • Monopoly, Clue: 20″ x 20″ double panel – 1/2 fold.
  • Risk: 20″ x 30″ four panel – 1/4 fold.
If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Board Game Folding Options

Game Board Folding Banner

Your game board is going to have to fit into the box with your other game components – so you need to think about your board game folding options as you design your board. In fact, board size (both folded and unfolded) should be one of the earliest design decisions that you make and one that you regularly test during your board game playtesting period. The number of folds can be changed based on the content of your game and the design – but once you know that you’re going to fit into a 12″x12″ box so that your game can sell to retail stores, you should plan on developing your board into that outside dimensional envelope.

Once you’ve come to the appropriate box size, you’ll need to think through your total artwork size and the multiple ways to fold your game board. Generally speaking, the folds don’t impact playability – so you can make artistic and gameplay decisions with the board. Think of a game that you have liked in the past and how your game is going to be played. Is this a coffee table game? A kitchen table game? Something to play on a bus? The size and number of folds can dramatically change the cost and the playability of the final product. Below, we have five panel styles (fold options) that make it easier to fit your board into two piece box. The following panel options work with all our thickness options.

All of the board game folding options shown below are appropriate for square/rectangular boards. Different board shapes – hexagonal, circular, etc. – can be quoted separately. Costs on non-rectangular boards are difficult to estimate without seeing artwork. Every shape other than rectangular has higher labor requirements for scoring, cutting and gluing.


This is our value option, a single panel board without any folds. This is appropriate for games that have Remember, the size of your single panel board will dictate the size of your two-piece box.
Single Panel
This is our value option, a single panel board without any folds. This is appropriate for games that have Remember, the size of your single panel board will dictate the size of your two-piece box.
The most popularly used board style is a double panel - 1/2 fold. This board opens like a book and has two symmetrical sides of the board. You've likely played many games with this board format.
Double Panel
The most popularly used board style is a double panel - 1/2 fold. This board opens like a book and has two symmetrical sides of the board. You've likely played many games with this board format.
The triple panel offers a more unique playing style. This board has three playing panels: two outer panels that fold into the center panel.
Triple Panel
The triple panel offers a more unique playing style. This board has three playing panels: two outer panels that fold into the center panel.
A common board style option is the quad panel, four panels otherwise referred to as a 1/4 fold. This option allows players to be on an even playing field since you can sit around the board like the knights of the round table.
Quad Panel
A common board style option is the quad panel, four panels otherwise referred to as a 1/4 fold. This option allows players to be on an even playing field since you can sit around the board like the knights of the round table.
The big triple double, is not for the weak of heart! This format offers players six panels of fun with three folds. When unfolded your board is in the shape of a large rectangle.
Triple Double Panel
The big triple double, is not for the weak of heart! This format offers players six panels of fun with three folds. When unfolded your board is in the shape of a large rectangle.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot


Board Finishes and Thickness

This article will teach you about board game finish and thickness.

Finishes are applied on top of your printed boards for the purpose of adding protection and artistic style. The finish type (varnish or lamination) protects the ink and prevents scratches. The finish style (gloss or matte) adds an aesthetic appeal to your project. Keep in mind, game boards, tiles, and tokens have different finish requirements because of their thickness.

Game Board Thickness

Board Finishes

When choosing a board finish, you only need to select a style (gloss or matte). Gloss adds a reflective shine, while matte adds a duller shine and smoother touch.

Since our boards are generally produced from (at least) 2mm high-density paperboard they require lamination because it’s the best finish for thicker material. Not only that, but game boards take a beating so we’ve decided to make the most protective finish, lamination, the default board finish.

Tiles and Token Finishes

Token and tiles are produced from (at least) 1.5mm greyboard, a thinner option than game boards, so you’ll be required to pick a finish type (varnish or lamination) and a style (gloss or matte).

Varnish is the most common finish type used for thinner material, but don’t feel you have to stick to the trends, your tokens may deserve the most protective finish (lamination) that also makes your pieces *water resistant.

Gloss or matte is ultimately a creative choice, gloss adds a reflective shine, while matte adds a duller shine and smoother touch.

*water resistant is not water proof.

Matte (Anti-Scratch)

Anti-scratch matte lamination is highly recommended if you’re using a matte style finish and your board artwork has a large coverage area of dark ink. Matte is prone to showing scratches on dark ink, so if you have pieces (meeples, pawns, etc.) that are moved around the board often, we recommend adding anti-scratch matte-lamination or choosing gloss.

Thickness Options

The thicker the piece the more durable. Beyond that, this is your creative choice, but if you’re struggling here are the industry standards of each piece:

  • Game boards: 2mm
  • Tiles: 1.5mm
  • Tokens: 1.5mm

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Playmat

Board Game Rubber Playmat Surface

Our custom playmat option is produced by printing your CMYK or black and white design onto cloth, then gluing and sewing that fabric onto a rubber slip resistant mat.

The biggest benefit of a playing mat is the ability to have a larger surface for your game. The photo to the right shows a 30″ x 30″ mat 1/16″ thick that can easily fold into a tidy square and fit inside a 13″ x 11″ x 3″ box.

If the creators of Twister could do it all over again they’d probably use our playmat.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Cardboard Mats/Tiles

Tiles for Board Games Playing Surface

Cardboard mats and tiles are interchangeable terms, they are both used primarily to build a game board surface. Perfect examples of this function are, Settlers of Catan using large hexagon mats and Labyrinth using 32, 2″ x 2″ tiles.

Tiles vs Tokens

Generally, tiles are considered to be larger pieces, unlike tokens that are mostly used to represent resources. When deciding between mat/tiles or tokens, consider whether you need many little pieces to act as counters or a few large pieces to create a board. If you need a handful of small pieces you should look into our token options.

Material and Printing

Cardboard mats and tiles are produced by applying printed paper to high-density paperboard then cut to size and shape. Based on your printing choice we can wrap both sides of the tile with your artwork (two-sided printing) so players can flip the tiles and use each side. Or, the cost-effective option, is gluing your design to one-side (one-sided printing) and leaving the cardboard backing exposed.

Custom Tile Shapes

Our default tile shape is square, but we have the machinery and know-how to die cut your tiles into other shapes. If you’d prefer another shape (i.e. hexagon) enter the width and height of the furthest points on your shape and let us know your custom shape request in the additional info box at the end of our quote form.

Multiple Variants

Cardboard mats are used to assemble the playing field. If your playing field is one large grassy area then you may just need one piece of art printed on each tile. If your playing field is an ever-changing universe like Labyrinth the A-maze-ing game, then you’ll need to let us know the number of different artwork for each specific tile in our board game request form. The more varieties of artwork you need the more printing plates we may need to create (also based on size and number of tiles) which will increase your cost.

 

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Playing Card Dimensions

We offer standard card sizes and can also print customized card dimensions and shapes. Select a style below to see the size, common uses and more.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Card Dimensions

Cards sized 2.5 x 3.5 inches
Poker Style
Cards sized 2.5 x 3.5 inches
Cards sized 2.75 x 4.75 inches
Tarot Style
Cards sized 2.75 x 4.75 inches
Cards sized 2.5 x 2.5 inches
Square Card
Cards sized 2.5 x 2.5 inches
Cards sized 1.65 x 2.5 inches
Mini Cards
Cards sized 1.65 x 2.5 inches
We have 17 untraditional stocked card sizes to choose from.
Non-Standard Size
We have 17 untraditional stocked card sizes to choose from.
If you don't see a standard size you like, we can do a customized rectangle to your dimensions. We also offer other shapes whether it's traditional (heart, star, circle) or unique, like your logo.
Custom Shape & Size
If you don't see a standard size you like, we can do a customized rectangle to your dimensions. We also offer other shapes whether it's traditional (heart, star, circle) or unique, like your logo.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Poker Style Playing Cards

Poker Style Playing Card

Poker style cards are the most commonly used playing card. The style name, poker, originated from the popular game of poker, but now refers to the card size 3.5″ x 2.5″.

Poker Card Packaging

A standard poker deck (52 cards) is typically packaged in a flip top tuck box. Up to 110 cards can fit into a custom tuck box. Once your card count exceeds 110 cards, or 220 cards in two decks side by side, you will need a two-piece box to contain your deck. The flip top tuck box is not able to contain more than that amount without tearing.

Poker Card Material

There are three card materials to choose from – card stock, plastic or foil stock. The standard stock for the game industry and what most of your favorite games use is 300 GSM Blue Core card stock.

Tuck boxes are made with 10pt. coated 1-sided card stock – the industry standard.

Custom Poker Cards

Poker style doesn’t mean you have to create a 52-card deck with suits, although we are experienced with that! The poker card size is perfect for playing card games or accompanying a board game. Here are some examples of poker style card games we’ve printed:

Strategy Card Game
Strategy Card Game
Board Game with Cards
Board Game with Cards
Business Playing Cards
Business Playing Cards
Specialty Options for Cards

Playing Card Specialty Options

The best part about printing offset vs. POD is the amount of specialty options that are available. To the right is an example of a gold foil stamping. View our other options below:

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Tarot Style Playing Cards

 

Want to print tarot style playing cards? We can help!

Tarot Card Size Vs. Poker Size

Premium Tarot Cards Printed by PrintNinja

Do you want to help others unlock the answers to life’s most pressing questions? Or, are you designing a game that requires a specific card size? Whether you’d like to print a divinatory deck or you’re building a one-of-a-kind set, tarot cards are a fitting choice for many applications. It’s speculated that these mystical tools have been used to help people see into the future since the 15th century, but today they can be implemented in several different ways.

The standard size for our tarot style playing cards is 2.75” x 4.75,” which is an inch longer than regular poker cards. This custom length can be useful for distinguishing card purposes if you’re creating a game that requires multiple decks. For instance, tarot-sized cards might represent characters, while poker-sized cards might be used for a separate function of game play, like resources.

Tarot Card Packaging

Tarot Cards Packaging

Are you looking for a special way to take your tarot deck to the next level? If so, you can use customization options to design a custom tuck box to host your deck. Design elements like foil stamping are especially fitting for anyone using the cards to hone divine power, so don’t be afraid to get a little fancy with your packaging using the following options:

Ready to Get Started?

We’ve created a custom pricing calculator so that you can explore all the different printing choices, shipping methods, and get an instant price for your project. You can also customize just about anything, from size and paperweight to specialty options and so much more.

Get Your Quote

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Square Style Playing Cards

Square Playing Card Style

Our square style playing cards are 2.5″ x 2.5″. Creators typically use square cards in three ways: for games that utilize a “draw pile” function, for children’s games since this size can easily be picked up, or for games that require players to lay their cards down in a grid format.

Games that use square cards:

  • I Spy Ready, Set, Silhouette
  • Castle

Square Card Packaging

If your square cards are part of a board game, use a two-piece box to house the cards. If your game only requires cards to play, we can make a custom tuck box, or you can shrink-wrap your deck without a box.

Example of Square Tiles

Square Card Material and Alternatives

If you’re using our square style playing cards for a grid, or to act as the playing board, our tiles option may be a better fit for your game. Tiles can be customized to any size, and they are made of high density paper board, providing increased durability and easy handling.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Mini Style Playing Cards

Want mini style playing cards for your custom board or card game? We can help.

mini playing card deck example

Our mini-sized card die is 1.65″ x 2.5″ – the width of a standard poker card.

Mini-sized cards can be beneficial to your game in a variety of ways:

  • The smaller size is easier for kids to handle.
  • They are extremely portable – ideal for traveling.
  • Brands can give away mini decks as an easy gift to build customer loyalty.
  • They are great to sell for fundraisers, give away as party favors or other special event mementos.
  • Some board games may need a variety of card sizes to distinguish between game features, like Monopoly’s Chance cards.

We’re sure there are many more ways to use mini cards – we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Non-Standard Sized Playing Cards

Non-standard sized playing cards arre any square or rectangular-shaped card that requires a width and length not associated with a commonly used card, such as poker or tarot.

Cost-Efficient Card Dies

Non-standard sized playing cards are cut to size using a die. Dies are metal blades that cut through paper by applying heavy pressure. We have many pre-made custom die sizes in stock, as listed below. If you don’t see the die size you are looking for, never fear, we can create a brand new die to your specs. However, creating a new die will add a significant cost to your project, approximately $500. If you would like to keep costs low, we recommend choosing from our selection.

Cost-Efficient Card Counts

You can also cut costs by choosing the right card count. We discuss this in our card count section, but it’s worth repeating.

The offset method prints all of your cards onto one large parent sheet. Cost is directly correlated to the number of parent sheets needed for your project. In the “Custom Die Sizes in Stock” section below, the parentheses show how many cards fit onto one parent sheet based on die size. You will be able to cut costs by making your card game equal to or less than the number of cards that can fit on one sheet.

For example, if you use a 2.45″ x 3.45″ die – which can fit 55 cards on one sheet – you may want to limit your game to 55 cards or less.

If you don’t see what you’re looking for we can create a custom sized playing card.

Custom Die Sizes in Stock

  • 3.95″ x 1″ (104/sheet)
  • 2.45″ x 3.45″ (55/sheet)
  • 2.25″ x 3.45″ (55/sheet)
  • 2.15″ x 3.15″ (55/sheet)
  • 2″ x 3.25″ (55/sheet)
  • 2.4″ x 4.5″ (44/sheet)
  • 2.45″ x 3.9″ (44/sheet)
  • 3.85″ x 2.9″ (36/sheet)
  • 2.95″ x 4.1″ (36/sheet)
  • 2.8″ x 4.4″ (36/sheet)
  • 5.1″ x 3.35″ (24/sheet)
  • 5″ x 3.5″ (24/sheet)
  • 4.75″ x 3.5″ (24/sheet)
  • 5.5″ x 3.75″ (21/sheet)
  • 4″ x 6″ (21/sheet)
  • 4″ x 5″ (21/sheet)
  • 4.3″ x 6.3″ (12/sheet)

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Custom Shape & Size Playing Cards

Custom Shaped Playing Card Heart Circle

Your design possibilities are endless with custom shaped cards. They can be as simple as a circle, or more complex like the outline of your heroic character or protagonist.

Custom shaped cards are not the same as non-standard sized cards, an unusual sized square or rectangle. We have 17 stocked non-traditional card sizes for you to choose from. If you’re so unique that we don’t have your size in stock you may use the Custom Shape and Size section on our card form to request a quote for your dimensions.

Creating Custom Cards

Cards are shaped with the die cutting method. The die, a set of steel blades, is formed into the desired shape and pressed into your printed card stock. The heavy weight cuts out the custom shape. This process does not allow for a lot of small intricate cuts, like a detailed snowflake. Always ask! Your account rep will be able to tell you if we can accurately produce your custom shape.

Watch a video of die cutting in action.

Cost

All custom shapes and sizes require us to create a new die, which is more expensive than using in stock card sizes – we already have these dies made. Depending on your design, creating a new die will likely come with an additional cost of $500.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Playing Card Material

Which playing card material is right for you? It really depends on your game – and luckily, we offer a wide selection of options for you to choose from for your custom card game. Select an option below to learn more about our available card stocks and finishes, and find the perfect playing card material for you!

Playing Card Material Options

Learn how card weight is measured and what the colored cores do.
Card Stocks
Learn how card weight is measured and what the colored cores do.
Explanation of card finish types vs. styles and how to choose the best option for you.
Paper Finish Styles
Explanation of card finish types vs. styles and how to choose the best option for you.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Playing Card Stock

PrintNinja offers many high-quality weights and core types of playing card stock for custom card and board games. Fully understanding these terms and knowing what card type suits your needs is the first step in creating your game.

52 Sweat Up Cardstock

52 Sweat Up uses 280gsm cardstock, out most popular option

Cardstock Weight

Cardstock weight is measured in GSM (grams per square meter). This is the universal measure for playing card paper weight. The higher the number (300gsm, 330gsm, 350gsm), the thicker and heavier the stock and card will be. Generally speaking, heavier cardstock gives your cards a higher quality feel. We also offer plastic playing cards made of a durable PVC. These durable, waterproof cards are a great option for party games and children’s games.


Card stock cores

Card stock with blue core (top) and black core (bottom)

Card Cores

Card stock is also categorized by its core: blue, black or coreless. You can tell what core cards use by ripping them in half as seen in the photo to the right. This shows blue core on top and black core on the bottom. The core prevents the card from being transparent when held up to a bright light.

Blue core is the standard and is used in most of the games found at your favorite game shop.

Black core is the highest quality card core. This is favored by casinos because the dark core doesn’t allow players to see through cards.

PrintNinja Tip

PrintNinja’s Cardstocks

  • 280gsm Blue Core
  • 310gsm Black Core (Linen)
  • 330gsm Black Core
  • 300gsm Coreless
  • 350gsm Coreless
  • 300gsm Foil Stock
  • 0.3mm White PVC

Ready to get started?

We’ve created a custom card game pricing calculator for you to explore all our different printing choices, shipping methods, and get an instant price for your project. You can also customize just about anything, from size and packaging, to specialty options like metallic ink, foil stamping, and so much more.

Get Your Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Playing Card Finish Types & Styles

Finishes are applied on top of your printed project for the purpose of adding protection and artistic style. When choosing a finish, you will need to decide between either varnish or lamination.

Packaging Finish Types and Styles

Playing Card Finish Types

The finish type (varnish or lamination) protects the ink and prevents scratches.

Varnish is the most common finish type used for playing cards. This liquid gloss finish is applied by the offset printing press to seal in and protect the ink. Lamination is the most protective finish and makes your cards water resistant. Lamination is a thin polypropylene film that is applied after the printing process is complete. Lamination is available in gloss and as an anti-scratch matte lamination (discussed below).

Matte (Anti-Scratch)

Anti-scratch matte lamination is highly recommended if you prefer a matte style and your card artwork has a large coverage area of a dark color. Regular matte is more prone to showing scratches on dark ink, which is why we offer anti-scratch matte-lamination via the custom quote option.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Card Count

If you’re trying to print a cost-effective game then card count should be your biggest concern. Offset printing uses large parent sheets, as seen below. The more parent sheets you need for your project the higher your cost. A parent sheet can only hold a certain amount of cards, based on your card style/dimensions and the size of the parent sheet determined by your card stock.

Cut down on cost by creating a game that only requires the number of cards that can fit on one parent sheet. Of course, you shouldn’t lower your card count if it sacrifices playability. Below you’ll find the list of magic numbers to help you choose the optimal card count for your game.

Common and Uncommon Card Backs

In some cases your card backs can increase price significantly, although this is an uncommon method, games that require each card back to have a different image affect price. Cards that have different backs are called unique or uncommon backs. Cards that use the same back image, like traditional poker cards, are referred to as common backs.

This doesn’t affect price until your card count starts to rise over 110 cards. For example, a sheet of 55 poker cards that have common and unique backs will need 2 printing plates (the front and back). A 110-card count job with unique backs need 4 sets of plates (2 for the front and 2 for the back) while common backs will only need 3 plates (2 for the front and 1 for the back). Every time you add more cards to your unique back deck you need another parent sheet and another plate.

Optimal card count per parent sheet based on your card dimensions and stock choice:

280 gsm Blue Core

  • Poker fits 54 cards/sheet
  • Tarot fits 29 cards/sheet
  • Square fits 65 cards/sheet
  • Mini fits 95 cards/sheet

300 and 350 gsm Coreless

  • Poker fits 54 cards/sheet
  • Tarot fits 29 cards/sheet
  • Square fits 65 cards/sheet
  • Mini fits 95 cards/sheet

310 and 330 gsm Black Core

  • Poker fits 55 cards/sheet
  • Tarot fits 34 cards/sheet
  • Square fits 71 cards/sheet
  • Mini fits 107 cards/sheet

300 gsm Foil Stock

  • Poker fits 54 cards/sheet
  • Tarot fits 29 cards/sheet
  • Square fits 65 cards/sheet
  • Mini fits 95 cards/sheet

Plastic PVC

  • Poker fits 54 cards/sheet
  • Tarot fits 29 cards/sheet
  • Square fits 65 cards/sheet
  • Mini fits 95 cards/sheet
Parent Sheet of Poker Cards

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Packaging Box Types

Browse our options below to choose the best packaging based on your game’s needs.

Game Packaging Options

Holds up to 20 cards - perfect for add-on packs.
Booster Pack
Holds up to 20 cards - perfect for add-on packs.
Small card box that holds up to 110 cards.
Tuck Box
Small card box that holds up to 110 cards.
Box that can hold cards, boards, and a variety of components.
Two-Piece Box
Box that can hold cards, boards, and a variety of components.
A unique box that has a flap top sealed by magnets.
Magnetic Close Box
A unique box that has a flap top sealed by magnets.
Sometimes all you need is shrink wrap to protect your cards.
Shrink Wrap Only
Sometimes all you need is shrink wrap to protect your cards.
Protective and aesthetic appeal.
Finish & Thickness Options
Protective and aesthetic appeal.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games and understanding your game packaging optinos, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Booster Packs

If you have a need to supply your game players with a special, small deck of extra cards, booster packs are an excellent solution. Commonly seen in many trading card games, booster packs are wrapped with silver foil to give your cards a pristine, professional look.

Booster packs

Booster packs are small, wrapped packages containing approximately 1-20 cards. For projects requiring more than 20 cards, simply request a custom quote with your specifications!

Booster packs are sealed with silver foil wrapping to keep all of the cards neatly in place. Printing on foil packaging requires very high order minimums due to setup costs, so for most orders we are unable to print directly on booster packs. With that said, labels are effective alternatives many game designers use to denote their booster pack contents.


A Note on Card Randomization for Booster Pack Packaging

Our facility fills and seals your booster packs by hand, which means we cannot offer a randomized distribution of cards in each pack like the filling found in CCG games. We can only fill booster packs with a fixed distribution, creating consistency among each. If game play requires randomization of cards, be sure to indicate shuffling is needed in your instruction packet.

Ready to get started?

We’ve created a custom card game pricing calculator for you to explore all our different printing choices, shipping methods, and get an instant price for your project. You can also customize just about anything, from size and packaging, to specialty options like metallic ink, foil stamping, and so much more.

Get Your Price

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Tuck Box Packaging

Tuck Box Card Game Packaging

Tuck Box Card Game Packaging

A tuck box is the traditional card game packaging option, made by folding thick paper stock into a box with a flap top. Our tuck boxes can hold up to 110 cards in a single deck or 220 cards in two decks side by side, and can be fitted with an instruction booklet or sheet. If your game requires more cards we suggest using a two-piece box for better durability.

Tuck Box Light vs. Heavyweight

We offer two tuck box options: light and heavyweight. The industry standard is a lightweight box produced with 10pt stock. The heavyweight box is made of 12pt stock. If the heavyweight option is not durable enough, and you do not want a two-piece box, we suggest asking about our plastic deck box option.

Tuck boxes can hold more than cards, making games more travel-efficient. If your game has several small components, such as dice and tokens, you can include them in the tuck box packaging.

Retail Packaging Suggestion

If you plan on selling your game to retailers, we suggest adding a hangtag to your tuck box that allows retailers to hang your game on a peg wall. Specialty options will also help your packaging stand out from the conformity of retail displays.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Two-Piece Box

Learn about our two-piece box for card games.

Small Two-Piece Card Box

Two-piece boxes are the most durable packaging option, and can be used for a variety of game types. They are a great option for card games that require more than 110 cards to play, such as Cards Against Humanity or Twilight, both of which utilize two-piece boxes.

Two-Piece Box light vs. Heavyweight

We offer two material options: lightweight and heavyweight. Our lightweight box is made from 1.5mm high density paperboard – the industry standard material. Our heavyweight box uses 2mm high-density paperboard. Your design is printed in full color, or black and white, on paper stock, then wrapped and glued around the paperboard box.

Organizing Insert

If your game has multiple components that need to be contained in a large box, we suggest adding an organizing insert so the players can easily locate pieces. Please inform us how many compartments you would like to have in your organizer and the intent of each.

Organizing Insert for Two-Piece Game Box

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Magnetic Close Box

Learn more about our magnetic game box option.

Magnetic Closure Two Piece Game Box

Magnetic Closure Two Piece Game Box

Our magnetic closure box is made from 1.5mm high density paperboard – the same material as our two piece boxes. The box’s design has a book flap that snaps in place with hidden magnets. Your design will be printed on glossy paper and wrapped around the box covering the magnets.

This feature works well for long flat boxes used for games that house many card decks side by side or place this feature on your deck box, a box that’s wider than a tuck box.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Shrink Wrap Only (no box)

Learn more about our shrink wrap only option and find out if it’s right for your board game.

Shrink wrap only

Shrinkwrap No Box

Card games are a popular item to shrink wrap since each deck holds a predetermined number of cards. If you have more than 110 cards, your cards will be wrapped into multiple decks.

Shrink wrap only (no box) is a great cost-effective option in lieu of a tuck box. Shrink wrap only is also a common option for add-on packs.

If you are looking to print add-on packs, consider using booster packs. They are the industry standard for expansion decks, and hold up to about 20 cards.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Packaging Finishes & Thickness

This article will introduce you to our game packaging finishes and thickness options.

Finishes are applied on top of your printed packaging for added protection and aesthetic appeal. Choosing a tuck box finish is two-fold: you will need to pick a type (e.g. varnish or lamination) and a style (e.g. gloss or matte). For two-piece boxes, lamination is the default option due to the thick material. You only need to choose a style for your two-piece box.

Packaging Finish Types and Styles

Packaging Finish Types

The finish type (varnish or lamination) plays a protective role for the ink and prevents scratches.

Varnish is the most common finish type used for playing cards and tuck boxes. This liquid finish is applied by the offset printing press and is available in gloss and matte styles. Lamination is the most protective finish, and makes your packaging water resistant. Lamination is available in gloss, matte and as an anti-scratch matte lamination (discussed below).

Please Note
Water resistant is not water proof.

Packaging Finish Styles

The finish style (gloss or matte) adds an artistic appeal to your project.

Gloss adds a reflective shine to your box, while matte adds a duller shine and smoother touch.

Matte (Anti-Scratch)

Anti-scratch matte lamination is highly recommended if you’ve selected a matte style, and your artwork has a substantial area covered by a dark color. Matte is more prone to showing scratches on dark ink, so we recommend adding anti-scratch matte-lamination or choosing gloss.

Box Thickness

Our boxes are made out of high density paperboard, the industry standard. The thicker your box the more durable, but besides that choosing a thickness is your creative choice. Most games you see on the shelf of your game shop use 2mm thickness.

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Packaging Add Ons

Learn more about the packaging add ons for custom board games that we offer.

Not all specialty options can be applied to every packaging type. Click on a feature below to learn more.

Shrink wrap your tuck box, two piece box or magnetic close box.
Shrink Wrapped Box
Shrink wrap your tuck box, two piece box or magnetic close box.
Shrink wrap the cards inside your tuck box, two piece box or magnetic close box.
Shrink Wrapped Cards
Shrink wrap the cards inside your tuck box, two piece box or magnetic close box.
Add a plastic retail hook to your tuck box, two piece box or magnetic box.
Plastic Retail Hook
Add a plastic retail hook to your tuck box, two piece box or magnetic box.
Add a thumb cut to your two piece box.
Thumb Cut
Add a thumb cut to your two piece box.
Include a printed inner liner inside your two piece box.
Printed Inner Liner
Include a printed inner liner inside your two piece box.
Tame the inside of your board game box with an organizing insert to keep pieces safe and in place.
Organizing Inserts
Tame the inside of your board game box with an organizing insert to keep pieces safe and in place.
If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Shrink Wrapped Box

This article will teach you more about our shrink wrapped box option.

Shrink Wrapped Game Boxes Shrink- Wrapping

Shrink Wrapped Game Boxes Shrink- Wrapping

Our shrink wrapping machine allows us to shrink wrap two piece game boxes, tuck boxes, our magnetic close box, and even cards placed within your box.

We’ll assemble your game components inside your box before shrink wrapping your product. If you are planning to use a warehousing and fulfillment service we recommend adding shrink wrapping to protect your game from dirt and dust.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Shrink Wrapped Cards

Shrink Wrapped Cards Inside Game Box

Shrink Wrapped Cards Inside Game Box

For a professional appearance, you can select to have your cards inside your packaging shrink wrapped. This is especially helpful to separate multiple functioning decks of cards within your game.

Shrink wrapping cards inside your box gives customers that valuable perception of a fresh brand-new game. You know, like that feeling you get from a new car smell.

This feature cannot be used with booster pack packaging.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Retail Hook

Learn more about our retail hook add on option.

Plastic Retail Hook on Game Box

Plastic Retail Hook on Game Box

If you plan to sell your game to retailers, help your cause by including a hang tab on your box. Our retail hook is made from clear PVC plastic.

Unlike hang tabs that protrude out of your game boxes, these plastic hooks are applied to the back of your deck. This allows you to shrinkwrap your deck to prevent tampering. Be confident your game will be delivered to your customers with all pieces and in mint condition.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating card games, be sure to check out our custom card game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a card game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed popular card games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like interviews with card game creators who have printed with PrintNinja, and special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Thumb Cut

Learn more about our thumb cut option for game boxes.

Thumb Cut Game Box Lid

Thumb Cut Game Box Lid

Thumb cuts are an eclipse the size of a finger tip cut into the box lids for easy removal. No more struggling to pull the lid off your board game!

Adding thumb holes is a small detail, but one that shows your customers you care about the functionality of your packaging as much as your game’s mechanics. It’s a practical option that will make a big impact on your project.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Printed Inner Liner

This article will teach you more about the inner game box printing options that PrintNinja offers.

Print Inside your Card or Board Game Box Inner Liner

Print Inside your Card or Board Game Box Inner Liner

The fun is just beginning once your box is popped opened, so continue the thrill with a printed box interior. We can print a pattern, solid color, or any other design you see fit. The photo to the right shows an inner liner printed with game instructions.

This feature can only be executed with a two-piece box.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Component Packaging

This article will introduce you to PrintNinja’s component packaging for board game options.

Game Board Component Pieces Packaging Bag

Game Board Component Pieces Packaging Bag

Show some love for your board game by keeping your pieces organized and your box clean. Providing players with component bags makes them less likely to loose pieces (open your Mouse Trap board game for proof) and provides protection.

Of course, bags work even better when paired with organizing inserts.

Choose from three bag materials: plastic bag, faux velvet, or linen. No matter what the aesthetic of your game is, we bet one of our material options will work for you.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Organizing Inserts

This article will introduce you to the custom board game organizers that PrintNinja offers.

Board Game Organizing Inserts Vacuum Formed Plastic

Board Game Organizing Inserts Vacuum Formed Plastic

Organizing inserts are made to fit inside your two-piece box for the best board game storage solution. This add-on is simple but has a big impact on helping players clean up easily and keep track of all their game pieces, so their favorite game will always be fully stocked and ready to play.

Plastic Organizers

If your game has many pieces, our vacuumed formed plastic trays are perfect since they can be molded to cradle your individual pieces such as dice, sand timers, and most odd shapes. Our plastic comes in black, white or clear, but no matter which color you select the plastic organizer has a professional anesthetic.

Cardstock Dividers

We also offer 20pt. coated 1-side gloss cardstock and 20pt. uncoated cardstock that works great for dividing your box into prefigured compartments. While cardstock doesn’t look as polished as our plastic option, the material can be printed on. The default cardstock color is white, but you can choose to have it printed in a solid color or have some fun and add a pattern.

Board Game Organizing Inserts Cardstock Compartments

Board Game Organizing Inserts Cardstock Compartments

Organizing Box Insert Layout

You have full control of how many compartments you need and in what design you’d like them configured, as long as it will fit inside your box size. Remember, cardboard dividers are only capable of being shaped as squares or rectangles while our plastic can be formed to each piece.

If you’re unable to decide the best layout just leave it up to our professional team. We’ll design the best option to easily fit all your components.

If you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There’s lots more to explore, like special features you can add-on to your card game to make it stand out. Check it out!

Freshly updated customer reviews from TrustPilot

Specialty Game Options

Select one of our specialty game options below to learn more about how these features can enhance your playing cards, game box, and components.

Specialty Game Options

Water-resistant lamination finish.
Water-Resistant
Water-resistant lamination finish.
14 colors of metallic foil stamping to choose from.
Foil Stamping
14 colors of metallic foil stamping to choose from.
A varnish applied to a designated area to give an extra shine.
Spot Gloss/UV
A varnish applied to a designated area to give an extra shine.
Colored ink mixed with metal flecks.
Metallic Ink
Colored ink mixed with metal flecks.
The only way to make sure your color is printed consistently every run.
Spot Color Printing
The only way to make sure your color is printed consistently every run.
A texture applied to your printed project.
Linen Texture
A texture applied to your printed project.
The ability to raise or sink edges for a textured touch.
Emboss/Deboss(Packaging Only)
The ability to raise or sink edges for a textured touch.

Once you’ve read about our specialty game options, if you’re interested in reading more about creating board games, be sure to check out our custom board game hub. This part of our site contains all the information you need to know about creating a board game – beyond just the standards listed here, this hub also contains detailed information on all the types of materials and packaging types we offer for your game. We’ve also analyzed some of your favorite board games to figure out what makes them work – and how you can apply these principals to your custom card game. There