The last of this set of Books on Books to be printed is Yutaka Takanashi's Toshi-e. Takanashi was one of the founders of the avant-garde magazine Provoke and of all of the Provoke era publications, Toshi-e is most impressive not only due to the photography but also because of its elegant presentation. Takanashi worked with the designer Kohei Sugiura. In fact, Takanashi entrusted Sugiura with the design, edit and decision to include the second "notebook" booklet of Takanashi's Tokyo-jin series. Most people know Toshi-e as "that large Japanese book with the shiny metal disk on the cover," well now you'll see that it's a bit more complicated than that.
The first order of business after learning Mr. Takanashi was open to the idea of featuring Toshi-e was to put together a rough layout for him to see how the book would work in our format. This meant I needed to quickly find a copy to photograph since this isn't a book that many people would comfortably lend out - it usually goes for anywhere from 4000-7000 dollars in the used book world. I knew John Gossage in DC had a one since that is where I first saw it last year. Thankfully he agreed that I could come photograph the book. It was a make-shift set up but with his help I got the results needed for a layout to send to Mr. Takanashi. I sent it off to Yoko Sawada (who was acting on my behalf since Mr. Takanashi doesn't speak English and my Japanese is a little rusty) and I held my breath for about five days. Finally I received an email saying Yoko had printed out the entire PDF document and shown it to Mr. Takanashi in person. Turned out, he was extremely pleased with how it all looked and gave his final approval.
With every book we do, Robert Hennessey figures out how best to approach the scanning or photographing of each book. As I have mentioned before, each book presents its own possible problems due to the type of printing the original book employed. Books printed in gravure pose fewer possible problems due to that process not having a set, linear dot pattern. If you look at gravure under a loupe you'll see it is much more like film grain than straight lines of dots. This means that when you rephotograph a gravure book and create a line screen over that image to print offset, there is no chance of a moiré pattern appearing.
The two books in Toshi-e were printed in gravure but on different paper stocks. For Toshi-e, Sugiura used a beautiful thick stock while for the Notes: Tokyo-jin booklet, he used a cheap newsprint paper. Robert and I spoke at length about how to reproduce the Notes: Tokyo-jin booklet since the images lacked the tonal range that the larger Toshi-e book achieved, plus, the newsprint paper had a yellowish tone. I thought we'd have to print the booklet in four color as opposed to duotone to match the paper tone but Robert suggested we print in duotone but add a second varnish layer. That second varnish would create the paper tone while we'd be able to control the exact print quality without the chance of color shifts etc.
In order to closely match the newsprint paper tone with the second varnish layer I went to a paint store and picked up dozens of paint chip sample cards within the range of tan to yellow. Finding a close match, I then sent the chip off to C+C Offset along with a few of the files and a test forme and told them to match the sample as closely as possible. A couple weeks later the sample arrived and all looked great.
The first sheets off the press looked good. Since we had done machine proofs a few months ago, C+C was able to quickly get to good starting points with all of the books this time. Although things are going smoothly, this book is 176 pages long (11 signatures of 16 pages) which means I'm in for 22 press checks. We'll be printing into tomorrow morning and then the new dustjackets for my fifth and final day.