Distinguishing Art Book Printing

from Trade Book Printing (Part I)


Art book printing is an exciting way for artists, designers, and creatives to share their work beyond galleries and museums. In theory, art book printing is a branch of book printing. Why do printing companies always mention art book printing separately? Why is it so important? What is the difference between it and mass book (popular reading) printing?
First, let’s clarify the definitions of the two.

Trade book printing

Trade book printing is the use of standard printing techniques and materials to produce books for the mass market . Trade books typically include novels, textbooks, manuals, guides, etc. Their printing quality is usually no higher than average, because their main purpose is to convey information or entertainment, rather than to display works of art.

Art book printing

Art book printing refers to the use of high-precision printing technology and high-quality materials to produce books that display works of art . Art books usually include photography collections, art albums, artist collections, etc. Their printing quality must reach a very high standard to faithfully reproduce the details, colors and textures of the artworks.

To understand the specific differences between the two in printing, we need to analyze them from four dimensions: 

  • paper
  • printing technology
  • binding design
  • quality control and experience

Paper Type

Trade book

Trade books: usually use ordinary paper such as offset paper, white newspaper or writing paper, which is cheaper, but the paper quality is average and the printing effect is relatively poor.

Art book

Art books usually use high-end paper such as coated paper, art paper, and specialty paper. They are more expensive, but the paper quality is excellent , the printing effect is better, and they can better show the details and texture of the artwork .

Paper Weight

Trade book

The gram weight is usually between 70-128 grams. Lighter paper is suitable for making dictionaries, manuals and other books, while heavier paper is suitable for making textbooks, reference books, etc.

Art book

The gram weight is usually above 128 grams, and can even reach 300 grams or higher. High-gram paper can provide a thicker touch and better show the texture and grade of the artwork.

Surface finishing

Trade book

Trade books surface finish is usually simple , and common ones include coating, calendering, etc. to improve the whiteness, smoothness and glossiness of the paper.

Art book

Art books surface finish is more diverse. In addition to sizing and calendering, coating, glazing, embossing and other treatments may also be performed to obtain different visual effects and touches , such as matte, glossy, suede, etc.

Color performance

Trade book

Due to the average quality of the paper and relatively poor color expression, the printed images may not be bright and full enough.

Art book

Due to the use of high-grade paper and special surface treatment, the color expression is more outstanding , the printed images are more vivid, fuller, and more layered , and can better restore the colors of the artworks.