Your color file does not contain colors. It contains numbers. The viewing device (monitor, iPad, printer, printing press, etc) uses these numbers to produce the colors you see. Different devices (and different calibrations of a single device) can translate the same numbers into different visual colors.
There are major and continuing efforts in the printing, photography, and output device industries to standardize the description of colors and provide a reliable way to convert a file so it shows the same color (as judged by your eyes) on two different devices. The technical solution uses ICC profiles which describe the characteristics of a particular device. In this approach, all devices are calibrated, and their ICC profiles are known and consistent. Then a color management system is used to convert a file so it appears the same on a second calibrated system.
In our experience, the ICC approach provides at most an approximate equivalency. It is, of course, good to do the best possible calibration of devices involved with color. But that alone is not enough to assure that a printed book will look the same as it does on your computer monitor.
For non-critical color situations, where the result just needs to look good (so-called pleasing color) it is generally not necessary to take any further steps.
The approach we use is based on color match proofs. These proofs are calibrated to the press that will be printing your book. The proof looks the same (from the point of view of colors) as the printed book will look. With color match proofs you can see how your colors will come out in print.
Our normal quotes include color match proofs of covers and dust jackets. For inside pages, we include color laser proofs in the quotes. While the color lasers may not be color accurate as the color match proofs are, they give a good general idea of colors, and precise proofing of all other aspects of the page.
We then offer color match proofs of selected pages if you want them; the cost is $24 per page. Our customers never have color match proofs made for all pages; they're too expensive and they're not necessary. In very many cases, the color match proofs provided for covers (and dust jackets) show enough information so you can see how well the printed final colors will match your expectations. For tighter control, you might want to have color match proofs made for 2-4 typical pages to further sharpen your understanding of how well the printed colors will match your expectations. Only very rarely do our customers want more than this hand-full of color match proofs.
We have found that this color match proof system works very well in practice, and our customers are very happy with the results.
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Signature Book Printing, Inc. Updated