Book Printing

I am toying with the idea of creating a small (very limited edition) chapbook using handset type and wood engravings. I’m imagining printing it on either my 7 X 11” Pearl or a Nolan showcard press I have. Are there any books or other resources that would be good for me to reference? Any suggestions gratefully received - Ian Bell

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You don’t say what size, dimensions or page count, you envision. Nor how much type you have for the text. I have printed several small edition books on my 6x9 Sigwalt, and a few book pages for cooperative projects, some on my Pearl 11. Unless you have enough type to set most of the book at once, you will need to print pages one at a time in sequence from front to back of the book. I worked out a method of locking pages up for the same gage pin setup on the press by shifting the “foot” spacing in the lockup and alternating head and foot of the page to the same left guide to get the pages to back each other up. If you have enough type for at least 3 consecutive pages you can leapfrog through the book.


And I always make a page dummy of the book, including any illustrations or other deviations from text, so I can keep track of where I am in the book as I go along. That helps me figure out whether I need signatures or whether I can make a booklet of the project.It also helps me know what page backs up what.


Bob is right in that a dummy is essential, but it is important to remember, if you are creating the dummy electronically that the point size on the computer is ever so slightly larger than that in metal and it can make a difference in page layout. Also the widths of digital Garamont, for example, are different than metal Garamont.

I once printed a 40 page booklet of poetry for a friend that started out as a 36 page dummy. Somehow, in metal I needed two more pages as longer lines needed to be printed on two physical lines, causing 2 poems to need an extra page each. Easy enough to do, but this was being bound as a pamphlet and now I had to figure out what to do with two blank pages before the title page I had already printed. For $50 i hired a student artist to draw a portrait of the poet to use as a frontis piece and had Owosso make a plate.

Arie is correct about making an accurate dummy. I am fortunate in my training to have worked almost 3 years as a print production staffer in advertising agencies, and in that capacity I had to learn how to cast off copy accurately so that the copywriter’s text would fit the art director’s layout. When I am dealing with a text I almost always cast off by beginning with a block of the text set in the typeface I intend to use at the measure aI intend to use, so I can get an accurate character count per average line. I have the text in a Word file, so that Word can tell me the number of characters and words. With that information I can usually cast off pretty accurately; one book I did I estimated to run about 360 pages of text and illustrations, but then I added small amounts of text and a few illustrations, but the end result was 350 pages. Care in preparation is worth the effort.


Thanks for all the excellent suggestions. They are all being duly copied and pasted into a document for careful reading!