Jargon Buster

Here is our very popular guide to the (often confusing) terminology used in the publishing industry.

Barcode – this can be generated by barcode software from the ISBN number and is usually positioned on the reverse of the book. It allows tills etc to scan the book for sales, stock level and ordering purposes, and any product which is to be sold via retailers must have one

Blurb – the words on the back of a book designed to describe what it is about in a way that encourages people to buy it

Book specifications – these are the exact details of the book, including number of pages, page size, printing and binding, paper, cover type, etc etc. These, together with a rough number of copies, need to be broadly decided upon before a realistic price can be given, and have to be finalised before the design of the page layout commences

Book trade – this includes any retail outlet which sells books for a profit, including high street bookshops, of course, but also supermarkets, tourist outlets, book wholesalers, online booksellers, newsagents, libraries etc etc. In all cases they will require a discount off the cover price of the book in order to make a profit, and this discount can vary enormously

Conventional or ‘Litho’ printing – high quality printing which tends to be most economical for print runs over 400 copies, especially those with photos. ‘Litho’ refers to the lithographic process used in offset printing (read more).

Copy editing – close reading of the text to check for incorrect grammar, word usage, punctuation, without altering the content or order of the text. [different from Editing, below]

Cover – the printed card outer on paperback books. It can be anything from one colour (i.e. black and white) to full colour.

Digital printing – slightly lower quality printing which is ideal for print runs below 400, for both illustrated and unillustrated books. This can be available for both paperback and hardback books

E-book – this is where a publication is made available in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, readable on computers or other electronic devices. You can have e-books as well as printed versions, or e-books only, but e-books work best with text only books such as novels, works of reference, poetry etc. Generally this format is not appropriate for well illustrated or coffee table-type books because the reading devices don’t display such books well at all

Editing – a thorough reading of the text which can involve some cutting, restructuring, rewriting or suggestions for additional material. This will not happen to your book unless you ask us to do it. [see also copy editing and proof reading]

Font – the style of the letters used, eg Times Roman, Arial, sometimes called typeface. We have a huge range of fonts and will usually suggest the most appropriate ones for the internal layout and the cover/jacket design, although your own ideas are of course welcome

Galleys – pages of continuous un-typeset text supplied by us for editing or picture placement purposes. An author would return the galleys to us with notes indicating where images should be placed

Hardback (‘case’) binding – a stiff book with thick cardboard outsides, with or without a jacket. Can be bound in cloth, leather, or the cover can be printed directly onto the hard outer case

Imprint – an ‘umbrella’ name (not a separate company) under which books are published. A publisher may have a large number of imprints under which titles of different genres are published

ISBN – International Standard Book Number. This is a 13-digit number which identifies the publisher of a book, together with all the relevant information about the book itself. Each book has its own unique number, the spacing between which must be followed exactly. It is from this number that a barcode is generated

Jacket – the loose cover, with flaps that fold inside the book, put on hardback books. It can be anything from one colour to full colour

Lamination – the coating, glossy or matt, given to a cover or jacket to protect it. We can advise you on the best choice of lamination for your book, and if appropriate explain the further options such as embossing, partial lamination etc, and let you know the costs

New Edition – a new print run with some changes (usually corrections and/or updates to the previous print run)

Page design – this includes choosing the typeface (font), type size, heading styles, and ‘pretty bits’ (!) on the pages of the book

Page proofs – these are the designed pages of the book laid out with any pictures in situ, that are supplied as pdf, or occasionally paper proofs, for authors to check that everything is where it should be. They also provide an opportunity for any last minute minor alterations/corrections and it is common to have several proof stages to allow for thorough checking after corrections have been made

Paperback (‘limp’) binding – a bendable book with cover. A paperback book can be stapled (if it is very short), wiro bound (like a spiral), but is most commonly bound with a spine

PDF – Portable Document Format. This is a very common way of way to sharing documents, including text formatting, layout, images etc, in a form that can be read by all computer users. Free software called Adobe Acrobat is required to open and view PDFs, which are designed not to be altered by the viewer

Print On Demand (POD) – this is a printing technology whereby copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received, allowing books to be printed singly, or in small quantities. Books printed under this system are printed digitally and may or maynot be printed by a company which also invoices the buyer and sends the book to them

Print run – the number of books printed at a time. When considering how many books you should have printed, it is important to bear in mind your budget, but also that the price per book falls as the number of copies you print increases

Proofreading – word for word reading of the text to pick up incorrect spellings, extra spaces, missing letters, numbers or punctuation [see also editing and copyediting]

Reprint – a new print run, exactly like the first (ie not a new edition) but some time afterwards

Retouching – computerised tidying up and improvement of scanned images

Run on – the extra books printed in addition to the number initially priced for but printed with the first print run. A run on price usually gives a figure for each extra 100, 250, 500 etc printed

Sample pages – samples of the initial page design for your comments

Scans – these are images stored on computer which have been scanned from photos, slides, drawings etc. We have a range of sophisticted scanning equipment in-house that can reproduce your images in excellent quality, but these days most images come to us already scanned

Text – generally, the written words comprising the body of your book. Consider also that well-illustrated books may need extensive captions; certain books may also need a bibliography/further reading and an index

Typesetting – the process of laying out the book to the agreed page design, including any pictures, tables, maps, diagrams etc. Even with e-books, this is essential, because the words have to look correct on the page, and good design and layout will make a book in any form readable, attractive and therefore saleable

Voucher proofs – the last set of proofs sent to you, usually by pdf. These show the book as it will be printed (though not as high quality) and you will be asked to check them finally and then confirm that you want us to go ahead and print