Archive for the 'printing / manufacturing' Category

The three Bs

Road trip! Last week we (Ann and Tom) traveled from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to attend a two-day book manufacturing seminar hosted by Edwards Brothers Printers at their headquarters. In addition to enjoying the fall foliage of upstate Indiana and downstate Michigan, we spent two packed days reviewing best methods for preparing manuscripts, pricing paper, selecting  printing processes and bindings, and specifying shipping. The seminar was just what we needed as part of our ongoing commitment to continuing education and staying abreast of new technologies.

As the seminar wound down on Friday afternoon, the inevitable question popped up: What is the future of the printed book? Can the bound book survive today’s communications technology or is the book becoming an endangered species?

CEO and President John Edwards did not hesitate to affirm the continued existence and popularity of the book: “As long as we have the three Bs, the book will survive.”

The three Bs? Bedroom, bathroom, and bus. AK

Upper and lower case

We take for granted that typesetting is done by operators at keyboards tapping (typing) out all the text that appears in the books we read. While technology has changed, much of the terminology we use today had its origin long before anyone dreamed there would someday be computers.

Take upper case and lower case, for example, as terms for capital and small letters. When compositors (craftsmen who composed pages of text) set type by hand, they physically picked up each letter with one hand and placed it into a device called a stick, which was held in the other hand. Composition was done upside down and backward because the printed impression appeared in reverse.

Upper and lower case refers to boxes of compartmentalized trays, one positioned over the other, that held individual letters typesetters picked from as they set words, punctuation, and spaces into type. Capital letters were located in the upper case of trays; small letters were in the lower case. JK

Big language, little language

Languages come in sizes. English is a relatively small language; Spanish is a relatively large language.

Our client for a project several years ago was the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the World Health Organization, which is part of the United Nations. PAHO wanted us to produce a procedures manual for the warehousing and distribution of medical pharmaceuticals throughout Central America.

Okay, we could do that.

But here was the hook: For some reason, one for which we never got an answer, PAHO required that both the English and the Spanish versions of the manual be exactly the same page length. That’s where a problem arose: Spanish is a bigger language than English, that is, it takes more words, roughly 10 percent more, and thus more space, to express a concept in Spanish than it does in English. Example: This entry is 235 words long in English; in Spanish it’s 256 words.

And our client wanted both versions to have the same total page count. What to do?

We agonized over this dilemma for several days. Finally, the solution came: We printed the Spanish edition in a type size one point smaller than the one we used for the English version, and we slightly reduced the space (leading, or “ledding” in typography parlance) between the lines of type. Result? Both books were easily readable, both were the same length, and everybody was happy.

There’s more than one way to skin el gato. JK