I’ve got the chance to print an interesting (maybe even important) book and there is at least the possibility of printing it via letterpress.
The book would have a page size of something around 7” x 9” and around 200 pages.
Anyone out there have any experience doing such a book project?
Any suggestions for getting photopolymer plates or Monotype or Linotype text for that many pages and keeping the cost down as much as is reasonable? Anyone have any idea how the cost advantages of photopolymer related to Monotype / Linotype (assuming you give back the metal)?
Anyone out there that can take the text in digital form and get it to metal? Especially, if you are within driving distance of Newark, Delaware.
I’d really like to be able to do this project.
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You might talk to Rich Hopkins — he’s in WV, a ways away, but he has hooked his Mac to a Monotype composition caster and can go directly from a digital file to metal type. He probably has one of the largest inventories of Mono mats in the world (?).
I’ve printed a book about that size (somewhat smaller type page) from handset type on a hand-operated side-lever press in an edition of 250. It was slow going!
You mention page size but not the type block. Most Linotypes can do a 30 pica maximum line length. Monotype and photopolymer don’t have that limitation. And if you aren’t familiar with handling slugs, they can be damaged easily and require reset lines. Monotype is more easily corrected if you order sorts. M&H Type can also run a composition caster from digital files through the MonoMac system, but not every face has been prepared for use.
If you do have the text set in metal, paging it can require a lot of spacing material, even if you have it cast on a larger body rather than lead it out. I prefer to make up every page completely rather than try to save material by doing a modular makeup and leave running heads in place, switch folios, etc. That’s where errors can creep in and throw off alignment.
Photopolymer can save you a lot of lockup and makeready time, especially with a pin-mount system. Of course any damage requires a whole new plate. Make sure the negatives are retained until the book is done.
Parallel, the lino mold is only 30 picas but to set longer lines you can butt them like you do on a ludlow. Dick G.
Nobody in his right mind is going to pay for 200 pages set butt-slug. And doing butt-slug work on the Linotype is a lot more complicated (with Linotype you have to avoid all the joints lining up) than using a multiple-slug Ludlow stick.
I’m with parallel.
I really think polymer plates would be your most efficient method of doing this.
It just seems the best way, especially if you make them yourself.
I threw an email your way as I have a polymer platemaker and would be willing to rent you time on it.
Printing and binding a book can be a very rewarding experience, but don’t count on getting rich in the process.
The largest (in # of pages) book I have printed via letterpress is 164pp. It was done using plates rather than typemetal. I generally do my own composition, either handset or Ludlow for the books I produce. Of course, the more labor you can keep in-house, the lower the outlay of cash you will have, but you must balance that with the cost (in hours) of your own services.
There are a lot of resources out there for both Monotype and Linecasting. Make certain whomever you pick has the time available to complete the project within your schedule, and is willing to commit that much time to it. Also don’t forget to figure in the transportation costs for shipping the finished composition to you. That can add up very quickly.
If you can do a good job printing a four-page folded flyer, you can print a book. You just lay in the forms and print the sheets one-by-one until you have worked off the entire number of sheets for the books. I’d have to say that a 200-page volume is perhaps a daunting task for your first one, but really is a repetitive process which should pose no particular problems.
Consistency of inking is probably the biggest problem you may have. The pages must be printed with even inking, as the first sheets you produce will be merged with all the others in one unit, so inaccuracies will be readily apparent.
Also count on having lots of space to store the printed sheets and keep them in order, that alone is a challenge for a small printer.
Good luck if you attempt the project, and keep us informed on your progress if you do.
John G. Henry
Cedar Creek Press
I print quite a number of Books by Letterpress, but for a large number of pages, by the time you calculate cost for hot metal service and shipping charges (Lead is Heavy), use Film and make Plates or have them made, The Cost difference will allow you to use a real nice mouldmade paper.