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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Press check

When our books are ready to print, I sometimes visit our printers for press checks. Coming from a writer’s background, I’m always amazed when talking to the people working for our printers. They view books as more than words and pictures. To them, books are physical things made of paper, cardboard, and ink. Instead of worrying about the correct usage of “to”, “two”, and “too”, the people who work for printers concern themselves with paper weight and ink coverage. It’s completely different from what we do every day in our offices at Stone Arch Books, and has given me new insight into the effort that goes into making a printed book.

I recently visited Worzalla Publishing Company, who was printing our new Graphic Spin titles. Here’s how a typical press check there goes: Every hour or so I’m shown a large sheet of paper with several pages of the book printed on it. I either approve the pages or reject them, depending on how closely they match proofs of the book. As I do this, I usually have the pressroom superintendent or the pressroom supervisor standing next to me. We’ll discuss any issues I see, such as if the page looks too yellow or the black is too heavy, making the page look dark. Then they’ll come up with possible solutions. Afterward, another set of pages, with the new specifications, will be printed. We’ll keep working on it until everything looks satisfactory—this can go on for hours.

From concept to the final book, it always amazes me how many people, and how many hours of hard work, are necessary for the creation of a single book. When it’s all finished, it doesn’t feel like work at all, since we were able to create something that we – and our readers – can enjoy.

--Blake A. Hoena
Production Manager, Stone Arch Books

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