October 30, 2023 in 

In the publishing industry, the term “hickies” takes on a different meaning than in everyday conversation. Here, it refers to minor flaws that can occur during printing. Some examples of hickies are specks, stains, or spots on book pages that issues with ink transfer, dust particles, or glitches in machinery may cause. They get their name because they look like marks from a suction cup or a small kiss.

There can be various reasons for hickies – such as incorrect screen tension, failure to clean the screen correctly, or using too fine a mesh count for the ink – and many are avoidable if you do your due diligence when tensioning and cleaning screens before printing. However, some are unavoidable and caused by external factors such as humidity.

Although people might think of them as imperfections in screen printing, some printers intentionally put them into prints because they give them character or charm; others use them deliberately to make something look distressed. Either way – intentional or not – each print will come out slightly differently.

Hickies reduce a book’s quality and aesthetic appeal, which could mean customers take against it. Publishers want high production values, so they will eliminate these blemishes where possible (or at least minimize their appearance). Printers and publishers deploy various techniques and technologies to ensure no visible defects that could spoil someone’s reading experience.

Moreover, hickies can harm a book’s marketability and potential sales. When readers see visible imperfections, they may associate them with lower quality or defects. As a result, publishers want to catch any hickies during printing and eliminate them before the books get into people’s hands. Quality control teams look at each printed copy closely and throw away any significant or noticeable hickies.

Furthermore, hickies can affect how much it costs to make books and slow the process. Copies that have hickies need to be reprinted and go through processing again—which costs more money for the publisher. Reprinting also takes time, which could mess up publishing schedules or release dates for specific books. In some cases, publishers might not be able to use copies they’ve already paid for because of so many hickies—leading to losses financially in their inventory.

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