Last edited 07 Dec 2020

Main author

Alex Harvie Other Consultant Website

Technical notes on architectural publishing


[edit] Introduction

This is a brief summary of a specialist field. An architecture practice publishing commercially will be able to rely on their publisher for more information, and self publishing architecture practices may be able to rely on their designer or printer. However there are some issues which should be considered before embarking on the production of a book.

[edit] Intellectual property

Credits and permissions – it is essential to ask permission to use other people’s work. This can range from a polite request to a contract-fulfilling obligation. Replies to these requests should be filed with any related contracts (such as with a design company or editor). Credit should be given to originators of work used in the book, and the terms of the credit agreed in advance.

[edit] Copyright

Books automatically qualify for copyright protection. However, to help protect the work, the book can carry the © symbol, the name of the copyright owner (an individual or an architecture practice) and the year of publication and the assertion of the author’s moral rights.

This is generally included on the title page and consists of the following –

  • © [Author’s name], [year of publication]
  • [Author’s name] asserts his/her moral right to be identified as the author of the work

[edit] Photography contracts

Problems can arise when photographers and agencies include clauses in their contracts excluding the use of their images in publication. This can mean an architecture practice cannot use images they have commissioned and paid for without paying again. It is not unheard of for these fees to match the proposed budget for the entire book in commercial publishing deals. This issue should be explored at the start of a publishing project.

[edit] Imagery

  1. Photography libraries – a wide range of images is available from photography libraries. The quality varies, as does the deal. Some are free (but require crediting), others will ask for detailed information about the print-run, territories of publication and size the image will be shown to calculate a price for using the photograph.
  2. Drawings and plans – re-sizing can cause problems, requiring drawings to be re-drawn; similarly drawings or sketches could need to be redrawn or digitised. Publishers usually expect companies to fund the cost of this work.

[edit] The cover

This can be hardback (with or without dust jacket) or soft-back (there can be an option for a folded flap to give the cover additional structure). Remember to consider how the cover and text sheets will work together. An overly-light cover stock might feel flimsy, while one which is too thick will make the book unwieldy, and might result in excessive postage. The printer will advise on what their press can handle and the cost differences. It may be worthwhile asking for a ‘dummy’ (a blank book made up in the selected paper stock with the correct cover) to confirm that the feel and weight of paper is appropriate.

[edit] Paper stock

It is always useful to see and feel the paper before printing. There is a huge range available. It might be helpful to go back and look at what worked well in the books identified in the research stage.

[edit] Weight

A book can be undermined by paper which is too light (it might feel cheap unless fragile paper is a deliberate design choice).

[edit] Finish

Digital printing needs a coated paper for the ink to take (see printing processes below) while litho printing offers more flexibility with paper stocks.

[edit] Ecological paper

The quality of paper stocks and ecological printing processes has improved greatly. Check for part-recycled to 100% recycled, chlorine-free and FSC approved paper– use of this paper can be flagged up in the credits.

[edit] The spine

When books are stacked up or stored in a shelf, the spine is the only visible surface. Conventions for presenting the title differ. In Britain and the US, titles are usually written top-to-bottom while in continental Europe titles tend to be written the other way round.

[edit] Binding

A range of methods is on offer. Where images are printed across the middle of the book, consideration needs to be given to how flat the binding will allow the pages to be opened.

[edit] Hardbound books

The best binding is where signatures (bundles of pages) are stitched together and attached to rigid board covers. When the middle of a signature is opened the binding threads are visible.

[edit] Soft-bound books

These have three primary binding methods:

  1. Thermally activated (perfect) binding – sections are glued together at the spine with a strong, flexible glue. Sometimes books do not spread wide with this method and can be liable to fall apart with handling and over time.
  2. Stitched or sewn binding - constructed in the same way as a hardbound book, except with a soft cover. This is more expensive than perfect binding but is as durable as a hardbound book and allows the pages to be spread wide.
  3. Saddle-stitched binding – a set of nested folios is stapled in a magazine-style book. This is only suitable for slim editions.

[edit] Printing

There are two main methods of printing:

  1. Lithographic printing – a more traditional process by which each colour is printed separately. This method is superior with its fine-line detail and excellent ability to match colour. It is more expensive but the unit price becomes proportionately cheaper with larger quantities.
  2. Digital printing – the ink is squirted onto the paper in a single process. It is cheaper, particularly for short print runs. Many on-demand printing processes use this method to great financial advantage. However its quality is generally poorer and it restricts the paper selection to coated stocks suitable for the ink.

[edit] ISBN and legal deposit

An ISBN (International Serial Book Number) is a product number used for ordering and listing books sold through bookshops. It is expressed as a number and associated barcode.

Booksellers cannot sell a book without one. An ISBN is not difficult to obtain; the main stumbling block is that ISBNs are only allocated in blocks of ten, limiting their use by individuals. However some internet self-publishers and larger design companies are happy to sell-on individual numbers.

An ISBN requires the publisher (including the self-publisher) to send a copy of the book to The Legal Deposit Office, The British Library, Boston Spa, Wetherby,West Yorkshire LS23 7BY ( within a month of publication. Publishers may, on request, have to provide up to five more, for the other Copyright Libraries in the UK.

Legal deposit requirements do not currently extend to works only available as e-books.

This article was created by --Alex Harvie 17:40, 2 July 2013 (BST)

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