Why BookBaby is a G7 Certified Master Printer

For once, I’m not here to talk about books to read. Instead, I’m diving into how our books are printed at BookBaby Publishing and BookBaby Bookshop. Readers often don’t think about the behind-the-scenes magic that goes into the book they’re holding in their hands. So, fellow reader, I encourage you to take some time to recognize the tremendous detail and effort that factors into high-quality book printing.

Ben Davis is BookBaby’s Printshop Engineering Manager. He recently led an effort to make BookBaby a G7 Certified Master Printer. So, what does this mean?

By achieving compliance in Idealliance G7 Master Facility Grayscale, Idealliance G7 Master Facility Targeted, and Idealliance G7 Master Facility Colorspace, BookBaby sets a global standard in digital book printing. Whether a book is printed today, or years in the future, the G7 methodology means that there will be no variability in the output of the printing. Authors and readers can trust that when they order from BookBaby, they will receive the highest quality results that are consistent, measurable, and predictable. Every person at BookBaby is fiercely committed to printing books for authors and readers that set a global standard in print.

Thanks to the hard work of BookBaby’s engineers, the books you write, read, and love consistently reflect the highest possible quality in the industry.

This interview transcription has been edited for length and clarity.

Joe: Ben recently led the effort to get our digital book printing center G7 certified. In this industry, that’s a big deal. So, we’re here to talk to all about that. Ben, thank you for being here.

Ben: Hey thanks for having me, Joe.

Joe: Of course. Let’s dive right into it. Can you provide some background information about yourself – how long have you been with the company?

Ben: I’m the Printshop Engineering Manager and I’ve been with this company for a little over 26 years. During those 26 years I’ve done many things – mostly revolving around the printing operations. Anywhere from offset printing to now, our digital toner presses, I’ve been involved in color since the start.

I’m also Idealliance G7 Expert certified – which helped me along with this process of dialing in our color here at BookBaby.

Joe: Interesting. When I meet different people here, everyone seems to wear so many hats, especially those who are working in the print shop. It’s so interesting to hear about all the things they’ve done. So, in addition to what you’re doing here now, could you explain a little bit about what exactly G7 is for those who aren’t familiar with how printing works?

Ben: Sure. G7 is Idealliance’s global industry standard. It targets to achieve a visual balance across all print devices and that goes for anywhere – from our facility to others across the country and globe. It’s a set of specifications based on color space. It’s about achieving gray balance across the color space to maintain color. It’s also a specification of hitting a color in a certain color space.

Joe: What makes it so significant to get certified in this space? Can you explain why it is so important?

Ben: So, getting certified just really holds the company true to saying that we are able to hit a certain color, maintain it, and be educated on how to maintain this throughout production. So, that’s one of the main things of being certified and being approved. You’re approved by a third party – which is Rochester Institute of Technology. We send them press samples and color swatches that they have to fit into – they have a really tight tolerance. It’s a big deal for us. It helps us maintain color throughout the course of a run. So, when we print a file today, it’s going to match what we print next week, or what we printed a year ago. It’s really about consistency.

Joe: It must be so relieving to a client – especially one who is relying on print runs. No matter what, there is going to be consistency. You’re eliminating variability in the output of printing. Is that fair to say?

Ben: That’s exactly what it is.

Joe: For a lot of independent authors in this space who are looking for (and relying) on printers, variability could be a huge problem – especially if you don’t implement standards to hit. It’s really impressive what you’re doing. How long was the process and what did it entail?

Ben: The process itself is not very long – it’s mostly about building up our infrastructure and standards for internal use on how we’re going to maintain this. That was a little time consuming. I’ve been working on this for several months with our new equipment. We’ve done this in the past with our offset presses and to various levels on toner-based presses.

The longest part involves how we are going to fit this into our production so we could assure ourselves and our clients that we’re repeatedly hitting color at any given time. So anyway, it’s fair to say that I’ve been working on this for months.

I’m also happy to mention that we are a G7 Certified Master Facility under G7 Color Space, which is the strictest color requirement out there. So, we are repeatedly hitting that.

Joe: So, what measurements and processes are in place to ensure that over time we continue to sustain this level of consistency?

Ben: Several times throughout the course of a day we do something called linearizing the press. So, the press gets linearized. It has an inline spectrophotometer which will measure solid density swatches and then compare that to a target. And the press will electronically try to balance itself and get it within a target. These are on Zikon web presses. They electronically try to get into a tolerance range and then give you a green light to say that it’s ready for production.

I created this color profile to hit the color space under certain conditions – and then the press tries to hit that condition and when it is ready to go or not. So, that’s how we maintain it.

Internally, we also do inline and offline spectro test that measures the 1,617 swatches across the whole color space and then looking at industry standards to ensure that we are within tolerance or not. That is done routinely, sometimes twice a week.

Joe: It’s so impressive to hear all the little details that go into printing. It’s so complex. It must be super comforting for authors to know that we have these experts who have been doing this for a long time and can handle this level of complex, consistent printing. I’m really appreciative of all the work you are doing for our authors.

My last question is – what does our G7 certification mean for BookBaby authors? What does it mean for clients who choose to put their print work in our hands?

Ben: This means that they are going to get consistent, high-quality results whether they order today or if they order from us next month or years down the road. It means that we’re fitting into a global industry standard of hitting color space. When you work with us, you can be sure that you are getting top quality print at any time.

Joe: Awesome. Thank you, Ben for all the hard work you’re doing on our authors’ behalf. Because of the work you’re doing, the print quality they get is the best in the industry.

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