SelfPublishBooks (Lettertec) – Reviewed

SelfPublishBooks.ie is a print solutions service owned by Lettertec Ireland, an independent Irish company with a design, print and book binding facility in Carrigtohill, Co. Cork. The company was founded in 1983 and has over 20 employees as well as a sales office in Dublin. Initially, Lettertec was a supplier of desktop document binding solutions, but quickly expanded its facilities and reach to become one of Ireland’s foremost producers of customised hard cover books including Laboratory Notebooks, Homework Journals, Personalised Diaries, as well as full-colour capabilities for soft and hard cover books. The company offers a full design and printing service (traditional offset litho and digital short run) for authors and corporate clients.
Lettertec has a strong client list from the fields of education, the pharmaceutical industry and the publishing industry. It is not easy to build such a strong client list; many of these clients demand very high service standards and exceptional quality of product.

“We are not publishers, just printers with a very extensive range of digital and offset presses and a comprehensive bindery.

We are using our facilities to allow members of writing groups or interested parties to get their books printed and either perfect bound or hard case bound in small quantities, or short runs.

 We are just using our factory and facilities, in the main company, Lettertec to fulfil a need for the little guy who needs to get some books printed, not published, (he can take care of that himself), without him having to spend a whole bunch of money.”


Frank Kelly, MD, Lettertec Ireland
What impressed me most about SelfPublishBooks.ie is a no nonsense approach. There is no pretention or promise in their service; no endless romantic list of authors who self-published from bygone years; no complex ‘publishing packages’ cobbled together to entrap the naive or ill-informed author; no sales representative hard sell. What is on offer here is an exceptional and versatile design, print and bindery service of quality.
In 1983, when Lettertec was founded, the print industry was volatile and the Irish economy was in a poor state. This company has come through the many dips and ups of the print industry, not by mere survival alone, but by inward investment, developing a core business and client accounts at local level, before pushing forward and embracing larger industries and new print technology and opportunities. Examining Lettertec, over 28 years of business, each step forward has been carefully planned and indigenous of its locale and the opportunities in the print industry. This was never going to be a company that over expanded and overstretched its reach in deference to the quality of service and product offered. That takes a great deal of foresight and the sense to skip dessert some days when all around are indulging in a sugar rush.
SelfPublishBooks.ie presents their five step approach to having a book printed. The first, selecting what format you would like (hard or soft cover) and they are at pains to remind authors of the necessity of an ISBN and barcode if you wish your book to be sold through retail outlets. Step two requires the author to consider trim size and quantity of books printed for the first print run. Step three provides for design considerations including the interior and cover.

“Provide your own cover (to be confirmed with us on size requirements), or provide unique photos or illustrations and we will create a professional cover design that will get you noticed on the shelf. We may also create a design from scratch for you so you don’t have to worry about its marketing potential.”

Again, versatility and options for the author are the order of the day. Ideally, SelfPublishBooks.ie probably best suits an author or writing workshop who can supply print ready files for the book. The company do have their own in-house design team, and while Lettertec has worked for Irish publishers, I’ve always felt it important that a book cover is produced by a specialised book designer. That’s just my opinion, and simple book covers can be competently produced by a print design department, but often that extra originality comes from a dedicated book designer who has immersed themselves in the project over a period of time. Step four includes considerations to internal layout, paper selection and colour insertions. Step five is the transfer of completed files to Lettertec. This can be done by CD Rom, email or file transfer (FTP).
We can accept a range of file types for printing books but prefer print ready PDF. We recognise this is not always possible so we accept files ranging from ready formatted MS Word files to applications such as Quark and Indesign.

When supplying PDFs please supply separate files for the:

a) The Cover:

Consisting of the back cover, spine and front cover. We can confirm the spine height for you and if needed, supply a template.

b) The Text

Should preferably be supplied as one PDF for the entire manuscript with one page to view. We will do the imposition for printing. Where manuscripts may be too large for one file then more than one PDF may be supplied.

c) Fonts and Graphics

Fonts should be embedded within the PDF, or provided separately.

d) Images

Images must be scanned at a minimum of 300dpi as lower resolution images may appear blurred when printed. (Please remember that images downloaded from the Internet are not suitable for printing as they are only 72dpi unless you have specifically ordered a high-resolution image)

e) Bleed

If you have an image that prints to the edge of the book (page) this image ‘bleeds’. For us to be able to print this part of the image gets trimmed off, so the artwork needs to be extended by a minimum of 3mm on each outside edge.

f) Colours – Litho printing

Please call to discuss.

g) Colours – Digital printing

We prefer to receive files created using CMYK.

“We publish our prices, ‘cos lots of guys don’t and I like to think people can check it out without signing up to a “Gold” or “Silver” service costing a heap of money, or having somebody in sales contact you, when you don’t need that. We really want to support the [self-publishing] sector.”

Frank Kelly, MD, Lettertec Ireland
SelfPublishBook.ie provide a price matrix for soft and hard cover books with examples of trim sizes in A5 (148mm X 210mm) and A4 (210mm X 297mm). Prices are very competitive (delivery not included), though, for the serious self-published author, I would suggest they lean towards print runs of 200-500 copies to achieve realistic profit margins when taking wholesale and retail discounts into consideration. Broadly speaking, your retail price needs to be competitive at three times the print costs per unit – for example, if your book costs €4 to print, you are looking at a €12 minimum as a retail price to facilitate royalties and wholesale discounts.
There is on some occasions a set-up charge of €70 applied on very low print orders, but in most circumstances the company will waive the set-up charge on most reasonable orders and do not charge it on reprint orders at all. 
I like Lettertec’s SelfPublishBooks.ie service a lot. It’s well grounded and backed up by an innovative and dedicated company with many years of print industry experience. There are many printers who have expanded into self-publishing services. Some have offered such services purely as a way of generating additional revenue to try to survive as a dedicated offset printer, while others, like Lettertec, see it as an opportunity to develop and embrace change. Innovation and inward investment has been the key to success for this company. While the company sees itself as a dedicated printer, Lettertec is the one company, hand on heart, I could see as one to embrace and adopt all the opportunities occurring in the publishing industry. The print products they offer are versatile, illustrated books, books with a CD Rom insert, and books with large trim sizes and high grade paper.
I’d like to see them expand their print/self-publishing services, perhaps even develop a digital hosting/archive service online. There is only so long the existence of diaries, journals, workbooks, calendars, etc in a physical realm is going to continue with the advent of smart phones and electronic tablets. The print industry has long walked hand in hand with the advertising industry. The days of flyers, brochures and billboards are numbered. Information and images are disseminated, presented and published on digital platforms now. Nowhere is that change more evident than the publishing industry.
RATING: 8.5/10
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