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Re: ink jet vs. laser

           See The Exhibition Online, And Order Your Catalog.

> From: Ann Grasso <A@AEGRASSO.COM>
> Reply-To: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com"
> Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 17:49:24 -0400
> Subject: ink jet vs. laser

> I am watching with interest the conversations regarding printers. All the
> conversation centers around ink jets. Is there a reason laser printers do
> not come into the conversation? Are ink jets better for book art?

A laser printer works the way a copier does. The laser beam draws the image
in light on a highly polished drum, changing its electrostatic properties so
that the toner (microfine powdered carbon) adheres to the drum, which then
fuses it to the paper by heat. The printing is brilliantly sharp, but the
type tends to be a lot more attractive than the halftone images, especially
photographs, which usually look not quite as good as, say, newspaper

An inkjet squirts droplets of colored ink (or archival pigmented inks) on to
the paper. Inexpensive inkjets can produce superb output, but they are very
slow. They require special coated papers to get the best effect. At faster
page rates, the type is not all that good on inexpensive inkjets. Even at
low speeds and high resolution, small point sizes tend to block up. Anything
above ten point type will look very good, though, at 720 dpi. Because the
droplets splash when they hit the paper, inkjet printing looks a bit like
rotogravure, an effect I like a lot. An inkjet tends to be more forgiving of
unusual paper weights and textures than a laser printer.

I don't know much about the archival qualities of laser printers, although I
would imagine that they would be excellent, depending upon the paper. The
chief advantage of the inkjet is the color. As I said in my earlier post,
the Epson color is just perfect. I have an Epson SC 580 that cost about $75
here in Cancun and it produces exquisite photographic prints in color or
black and white.

The combination I like best is laser printer for type and inkjet for images.
I am finishing a book today printed on the Epson. It's mostly printed on
Great White Acid Free Premium 24 Inkjet Paper. The frontispiece is printed
on Meade Acid Free Premium Photo Gloss.

I'd have preferred an eggshell paper, but the Great White was the only acid
free paper with good photographic inkjet qualities that my daughter, Faera,
was able to find for me. Cancun is not the easiest place to get special
papers, although it is surprising how many decent ones are available.

The alternative would have been to print it on a lightweight Fabriano, but
it would have been too expensive for the purpose -- a prototype of a book
that's still in the works. This is a kind of advanced dummy. I want to see
what the format looks -- 172 mostly text pages, 7" x 10" with one inch
margins, except for the bottom, which is eight picas. The book will have
about 400 pages when finished. It's all written, but still being set in

The black and white photographs came out just great on the Great White
paper, but I couldn't use any color pictures on it. The show-through is
barely acceptable, unfortunately. I'm looking forward to  using acid-free
coated both sides for the next version.

Printing was very slow. I will probably buy a laser printer for the final
production, although a high speed large format Epson might be more feasible,
as I will be able to use sewn signatures rather than PVA perfect-binding
reinforced with cords glued into cuts in the book's back. This is very
sturdy, but it never has the easy opening qualities of a sewn book.

I've done some books at 5.5" x 8.5" but the size is really very constricting
and causes some justification problems with 12 pt. type, especially when I
want to use 24 pt. side call-outs and other wide margin typographical
features. Eleven pt. type works better, but I really feel that given the way
the population is aging , 12 pt. type is now the absolute minimum for a book
that is comfortable to read.


JULES SIEGEL Apdo 1764 Cancun Q. Roo 77501

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