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Bookmobile - Small Press Run PrinterWebsite Review
by Ellen Million
I first started working with Bookmobile about two years ago, following a recommendation from the fine folks at Sofawolf Press. I was searching for a printer to do the production of the Visions of Atlantis book.
I looked around at several printers before deciding these guys offered the best bang for the buck. I was ordering 250 books - a total too modest for a true press run. I quickly eliminated the idea of going through a print-on-demand company that charged the same price per book no matter how many were ordered. Bookmobile is not set up to do quantities lower than 10, so it could be considered small press run, rather than print on demand. The bills I received from these folks broke the job apart into set-up fees and per-print costs, and for a job of this size, it was well worth paying those start-up fees for a lower cost per book. It also meant that I could order more later at those lower costs. (Read more about press runs versus POD!)
One of the immediate downsides to their website is that it doesn't offer automatic quotes - you have to submit your specs and wait for an e-mail back. Their customer service is excellent, and responses are relatively prompt, but I know of at least one other person who had difficulty getting a response to their quote questions, and it can be a hassle if you're looking for a large variety of quotes to have to go back and forth in a lot of e-mails. On the plus side, I was given one customer service rep, and he was absolutely gold in the communication department, with prompt, helpful responses. When I canceled an order after seeing the proof (their options didn't work well for coloring books!), he was able to settle my account and charge less for the proof and set-up than he technically could have.
Another downside is the lack of full-bleed interiors; I would have liked to design more graphically intense pages that spilled out of the books, but this wasn't an option.
One other downside is the unbound proof. It is quite difficult to picture the final product of a perfect bound book when holding loose pages and a folded 11 x 17 cover sheet with extra margins. You can get a good sense of the page quality, but not so much for the final product. Fortunately, I had ordered several of the Sofawolf books, and could be confident that there would be quality binding as well.
I was terribly pleased with the final product. There was a color shift on several of the pieces, but I later found that this was a problem in my file formatting, nothing that they were responsible for! The pages were heavy and quality feeling, the pictures were sharp and great-looking. The quality on the black and white pages was a little lower than on the color pages, but not so much so that I hesitated to have them print a run of Wish3 Vol 1.
The binding was excellent, far out-stripping the quality of binding that I had gotten through Ken Whitman's RapidPOD site previously (Read the full review of this service.), and the trim was all perfectly uniform.
There were no pages printed crooked, and only a few corners were bent in shipping. I caught one mistake: one copy out of the 250 was bound backwards. I haven't seen any printer-mistakes in the Wish3 books.
Turnaround with these guys is also very reasonable; even large-ish print jobs are out within a matter of weeks, though - as I have found the case with nearly every printing company I've worked - it's not quite as fast as they estimate it at the beginning of the job.
Overall, I was happy with these folks and plan to return to them for several upcoming publications. I would definitely recommend them for small, full-color press runs in the several-hundred quantities.
Ellen Million has always had a passion for projects. Visit her site for prints and embarrassing archives.
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