We have a project where we have multiple sets of 4-page (folded 11x17) handouts for children. We've currently set up them up as individual files assembled in an ID book for workflow, but they are processed by our printer as separate files to be printed cut and assembled into shrink-wrapped bundles. However, it has come down to us that in order to save money, we need to change how these handouts are packaged. They now want us to have them inserted into each other into a non-stitched saddle-stitched book with cover. So instead of handouts individually folded into eleven booklets and stacked, we now have them all folded together into a single book. The end-user will take the book apart to hand out each of the booklets to the children. We're not the first to do this. I've seen similar books produced by other publishers, but I have no idea how they set up their files for print.
We have to work on them as separate documents because the interior pages of each handout contain gutter crossing spreads. The only way I can think to do set up the file for the printer is to open a new document with 44 pages and then manually place the pages of the multiple ID files onto the proper pages so that when the printer imposes the book, the pages fall into the correct order. That is going to be horribly time consuming on my end since I have multiple sets of these handouts--though I suppose if I link to the ID files, I can just relink the files for the other sets.
Can anyone offer a more efficient way to do this? The printer on this project will probably be a POD.
I'm not sure you need to change anything.
This is basically a bindery efficiency problem. To insert one booklet into another you want each booklet, ideally to be all on a single press sheet, or on a group of press sheets. The sheets get folded at the bindery, then, in all probability, the folded sheets get stacked in a collater or multi-bin machine that collects a folded signature from each bin and inserts them into the preceding group until it reaches the end of the line. Typically this machine would then stitch and finally sent the book through a three-knife trimmer to remove the excess and free the pages. I don't know if these machines will work properly without the stiching step.
You should talk to the printer to see if they want you to continue to send separate files, or, if all the individual handouts have the proper number of pages for assembling usable press signatures, that they want it sent as one. It's really their call, I think, and not something we should decide for you.
Sometimes I post before I've finished thinking. Keeping the files separate, if that works for the printer, has some advantages for you in terms of maintaining things. If only one section needs an update you only have to edit and resend that section.
I'm quite sure our major printer that does our large orders could handle the bindery problem as you have specified, if we can explain it adequately (they are in China so there is a language barrier). However, for the small runs to fill orders as our inventory needs replenished, we'll be using Print on Demand companies, who I believe will be running the jobs on single sheet fed digital presses that bind on finish, so I "think" that I'd need to provide them with a single file for the "book" interior. Most of these companies are very stringent on their submission requirements and charge you tons of extra fees for extra prepress.
Hence my question.
I'm trying to figure out how best to create the book because I can't just export a PDF from the book file. The pages would be in the wrong order once imposed. Though now that I'm thinking about it, I could rearrange the pages in Acrobat, but there's a lot of room for error doing that--especially considering this isn't one book, but sixteen books per year. And every time I made an edit, I'd have to redo that page rearrangement. I was just curious to hear how other people would handle making the final file with the pages in the proper order for press.
Quite Imposing might be a good solution. I haven't used it, but my understanding is it ought to be able to handle this, and preserve an imposition profile for easy re-use.
But I'm still not convinced that you need to do the imposing yourself. If it were a normal book, the printer would be imposing it, right? So the trick will be to find out if they can impose in four-page signatures instead of 16, 32, or whatever they normally use.