This will probably be my last day of printing and I do not feel relieved but a bit sad. There will be a lot about this place to miss when I leave tomorrow. The batphone scaring the hell out of me as I nod off asleep. The giggles I get from the passing women as I speed walk to a press check. The smell of the inks and the headaches they induce. The lunches with Alice and Iris as we sit in uncomfortable silence trying to connect cultures.
I've learned so much in such a short time that my head is swimming with new information. I've learned to love the process even with the stress. I implore all young bookmakers to go on press when they are printing your work. I do not see how you can regret it. Anyway, the phone is ringing...
9:30 pm. Checked three of Sophie's sheets and they are looking really good. This book gave us so much trouble scanning and finding the correct screening strategy that to see a finished stack with good color balance and no problems feels more of an accomplishment than the others. Tomorrow we will be finishing the rest probably taking us into the night.
11:20 pm. We were supposed to be stopping early but now I get to approve of the dustjackets. I just approved the sheet but I think it reveals a bad decision on my part. Each jacket shows the cover of the original book and I have allowed the age and wear to those originals to be evident. I did not photoshop the images to try to make the books seem "new again" so to speak. This series is going to show some very old books that will show wear and tear so I thought 'OK, let it show to a certain degree.' Part of the charm of older books is seeing that they are effected by time and use.
Well, I am still holding to that notion but the copy of the Killip book that we used to scan the cover has some yellowing to the left edge, which at full size looks fine, but at the reduced size starts to look more like a printing mistake than a sign of age. I was thinking we could adjust the levels to minimize it but all of the color balances of the other covers would have been effected because they are all in the same adjustment line on the sheet. I had no real alternative that wouldn't have involved a lot of time and expense. I just thought 'To err is human. Perfection is divine, and, Use photoshop next time a-hole,' and I signed off on it. The first blemish. Baby's got four toes on one foot.
Meanwhile back at my guest house, I got so worked up about the Killip dustjacket because: a) It's the friggin' cover image, and b) that meant that the Special Edition tip-on is going to have the same damn problem. As I was beating myself up over being so stupid, the phone rang for the check of the tip-ons.
I made my way to the press check with my stomach full of acid imagining the litany of embarrassing complaints I would hear from people who buy the books and when I rounded the corner and saw the sheet I couldn't believe my eyes -- same color balances and levels but the difference in paper stock made the left edge aging much less apparent in the tip-on. I almost couldn't see it at first. So one minute I am upset and the next excited again.
Note: If we sell out and do a second printing of the Killip trade edition I am going to photoshop out the aging color on the jacket. That one change will be what determines the "true" first edition from the later. Ha! I can already see what will no doubt be the hilarious ABE listings.
10:56 am. I've had some sleep but now that I am allowed to, I can't. Went to bed at around 2:30 am only to wake at three hours later with no chance of getting back to sleep. Its like an addiction.
I was told we'd be printing by 9:00 am but I have now heard that the first check of the day will be at around 11:30, right before lunch. I am anxious to continue the good work on Sophie's book that we started yesterday. I am afraid of losing momentum in my ability to make judgments.
11:56 am. Just returned from the first check of the day and I realize now why I have had a headache all morning, the sample finals and "make-ready" sheets I have been gathering over the past few days have made my guest room smell like a print shop. The ink is laid on so thick on the make-ready's that they'll probably reek for months.
For those of you who will eventually do this you'll find the computer driven press communication amazing. Basically, at the workstation there is a large inclined table with a daylight balanced hood for viewing the sheets. At the front of that table is a long string of green level indicators accessible by touchpad. The sheet is put onto the table and moved left until it hits a "stop" which keeps it in place. This lines up the sheet with the keypad and the line of color bars printed on the top of your sheets. You use those color bars to measure the individual CMYK densities with a densitometer.
If you look at the 2nd photo you'll see how the sheet can be broken up into separate rows. For every green adjustment line on the control board on the front of the table, corrections can be made for that individual little strip of the sheet extending from top to bottom. My sheet size could be broken up into about twenty rows. So, if an image or part of an image in a row needs a correction then you can adjust just for that. The control is incredible. I imagined before going on press that one change effects the whole sheet. The catch is though that adjustments can only run from top to the bottom of the sheet and not horizontally and whatever you adjust effects all else in the line.
6:02 pm. I am happy to announce that the first four titles in the Books on Books series are finished being printed. I was called to the pressroom for one last check which needed NO CORRECTIONS. The pressman nailed it first attempt. I signed them and asked Alice to hold up a sheet with the printer for a quick snap. I grabbed my stuff to leave and then I realized...
I'm locked out of my guest quarters again.