The Bookbuilder’s Almanac

For almost two decades, I made a living making books. Over the years, just about everything changed—my job title, the software I used, the content of the books, and the best practices I followed (and my Sony Walkman eventually morphed into an iPod Touch). But a few things never changed, like the fact that testing and proofing were an absolute requirement. No one in their right mind would order thousands of printed books without first being confident of how things would look in the finished product. And of course, our print service providers offered all manner of hard and soft proofs.

But nowadays you might find yourself working on a project where the output is Print on Demand (POD). Goodbye offset presses, hello inkjets and toner. And while POD services will often provide templates and production guidelines to achieve best results, it’s just not the same as looking at printed pages you can hold in your hands. An accurate, hard proof offers the ultimate guidance.

And now thanks to one clever book designer, you can get your hands on a bound POD hard proof showing the quality of photos, graphics, and a variety of typefaces printed by Lightning Source.

The product is called The Bookbuilder’s Almanac, Volume One, and it’s the brainchild of designer/art director/production manager Valerie Brewster.


Valerie describes the Almanac’s target audience as, “designers, self-publishers interested in quality, and managing editors or production managers who are making purchasing choices and decision about converting backlist titles to POD fulfillment models.” It contains 50 pages of popular typefaces printed at different sizes to help guide your book design choices.



The Almanac also contains a section with step-by-step instructions for accurately estimating page count, and how to make adjustments to your design to fit a predetermined page count.


Plus there are samples, and advice for handling gray tones, hairline rules, dot gain curves, highlights and shadows, and more.


The cover includes grayscale swatches plus color graphics and photography (with a variety of skin tones).


If Volume One of The Bookbuilder’s Almanac is a success, Valerie intends to produce new volumes printed from other POD providers, to allow readers to compare and contrast the results.

You can grab a copy of The Bookbuilder’s Almanac at Amazon for $10.

For more information on the Bookbuilder’s Almanac project, check out Valerie’s website,

Posted on: May 11, 2016

Mike Rankin

Mike is the Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and He is also the author of several video training series, including Font Management Essential Training, InDesign FX, and InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals.

1 Comment on The Bookbuilder’s Almanac

  1. This promises to be a very handy reference to take the guesswork out of designing for POD. Thanks for recommending this book!

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