Printing the 2021 ABDA Catalogue with Opus Group

This year’s ABDA Book Design Awards catalogue, designed by the 2020 Emerging Designer of the Year Akiko Chan, is a visual masterpiece. ABDA recently visited the wonderful Ligare Book Printers in Sydney to take a sneak peek behind the scenes as the 2021 catalogue was produced.

As a Gold Sponsor of this year’s ABDA Book Design Awards, the OPUS Group continues its long standing ties to the Australian publishing industry and proud support of the book design community. As a founding business for the OPUS Group, Ligare Book Printers has been servicing the Australian book industry for more than 40 years.

Founded in 1979, Ligare is the only book printer in Australia that can produce a section sewn hardcover book in house in as little as 2 weeks. From short-run digital printing and binding in mono and full colour, to full offset colour and mono printing in soft and hard covers, Ligare have all of your book printing requirements covered under one roof in Sydney.

Ligare produced the catalogue entirely in Sydney, from plate to print and cased all on site. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of our beautiful catalogues this year you will find that Akiko Chan has designed it in two parts – a catalogue and a notebook.

Wanting to focus on the process of book design, Akiko leant into aspects of the process that may be imperfect. Thus, the catalogue is a ‘naked’ book block with a soft cover, exposed binding and printers’ marks throughout – a nod to unfinished imperfection but complete in content. The accompanying notebook on the other hand, is quite the opposite – as a debossed hardback wibalin case, it’s a complete book in the traditional sense but devoid of any content.

To get a bit more of an insight into the printing process, we spoke to the team at Ligare about the challenges they faced throughout production.

Was there a particular challenge in printing the catalogue?

Detailed planning was required to ensure that the 4 page ABDA front and back covers, once printed and debossed, would not get damaged in the scoring, folding, collating and sewing process given it had no lamination finish and the there was a tendency for the PMS blue to rub off on other elements of the cover. The type of board used for the catalogue cover made printing on it quite difficult. Because it’s not a usual cover board, the pressure required to ensure the image transferred perfectly onto this stock did push our press to its limit … and added a few stress lines on our printer’s face 😉

How did you achieve that beautiful exposed spine? 

We actually ended up hand applying the glue on the spine as machine gluing in this instance would not have given as clean a finish to the spine. The book blocks also needed certain pressure for the spine glue to settle in so for a day or two, so our book binder actually had lots of heavy containers lined up in a row to weigh down the small 5 book stacks!

Production process of the soft cover, exposed spine catalogue

Were there any tricks to printing the wibalin hardback notebook?

The colour of the notebook case was quite difficult to print because the density of ink applied on the wibalin meant the material did not dry in the usual timeframe, which slowed the process down as the colour would rub off where grippers were holding the case. I was told by our production team that in a perfect world, the case material should be left for a week for the colour to fully dry out (even with varnishing) to minimise the rubbing off.

The deboss on that notebook looks so great! How was that process?

The debossing of the case took some time to perfect as our production team had to balance the depth of the debossing with the tearing/rubbing off of the blue in the debossed area. It was interesting to see what difference just a sheet of normal copy paper underneath the case made to the depth of the deboss!

Production process of the hard cover debossed wibalin notebook

Although we asked the world of Ligare throughout this process, they did not disappoint! We couldn’t have entrusted this in more capable hands. You can purchase a copy of the 2021 Book Design Awards catalogue here.

The OPUS Group is a sponsor of the 2021 ABDA Book Design Awards and ABDA are proud to feature their work in our Sponsor Series.