Creating variable booklets with PrintShop Mail

Up to 8 years ago, I worked with a company building finishing devices. Stackers, inserters and… booklet makers. From our perspective at the time, you would simply have a booklet for which the pages had already been imposed, and you would print it as often as you needed it. Matters like variable booklets were hardly something being considered. That is, until we started working together with printer manufacturers and software vendors to provide solutions rather than just the machines. Now in an inline setup to make finishing part of the printing production process.

This led to my first experience with PrintShop Mail. Although easy to use, it still proved challenging to take into account the aspects of individual machines and software to get the end result we wanted. Mainly because all had been created and intended to be used on their own.

The Challenges of Variable Booklets

  • If you have the whole job, including variable data as a PDF, the printer and booklet maker will not know when the sheets for one booklet end and when the next begins. It will simply try to create one big booklet of everything, so that was not an option.
  • Personalizing the individual sheets in a software like PrintShop Mail, would mean that the printer would receive as many jobs as there are personalized booklets created. Creating a difficult workflow, flooded job queue and a huge load on the RIP.
  • Imposing a single, non-personalized booklet and then using it in PrintShop Mail, would be an option. However, if the designed sheet size would change during imposition in any way, overlaying fonts would prove difficult because the font sizes would no longer match.
  • Manually ordering the layouts would be time consuming.
  • On the side of all this, there is a difference between booklet makers. Some require the front of the booklet first, others would require it last.

So already at that time – long before starting my work for Objectif Lune, I realized that creating personalized booklets was challenging. Everyone would have to invent the wheel for themselves. So… Now that I am at Objectif Lune, I decided to create a few templates that would make life easier.

Download the Template

How to use the Template

1. You choose the template that suits the paper size, and booklet maker expectation for front first or last. You set the PDF name to be loaded… And the template places the right pages in the right place, removes unused sheets, and leaves pages blank if the source PDF has a number of pages that can’t fill all pages in a booklet.

2. Select tray options for each sheet in the booklet is done as usual for any job. Most booklets have a cover in a different paper quality and weight.

3. Once this is done, you can use PrintShop Mail as usual to make it variable. Select the proper ’embed PostScript’ option for your printer to understand finishing individual booklets, and production can start.

A single job will nicely be turned into individual booklets without all the hassle. The main steps are explained on the first sheet of the template.

These templates allowed me as well to experiment with how far page picking and programming could be taken, using only fairly simple expressions. I hope you will enjoy using them as much as I have enjoyed the challenge to create them – and use them for example at trade shows to make setting up any booklet demo seem like a breeze.