This is a continuation of a series of posts that I started what seems like a long time ago about getting a book designed and published. The series starts here.
I met with Jerry Takigawa about the printing on the cover of the book and the portfolio slipcase. He showed me his idea, and I liked it. The cloth cover of the book will be black, which is the theme that runs all through it. The title will be embossed into the cover, and the title and my name along the spine.. The embossed letters will be smooth, and will be coated with a mirror-like reflecting material. It looks very classy and understated. We’ll do something similar with the portfolio cases.
It seems kind of a waste to make the cover so beautiful when 99% of the books owners will never take the dust-jacket off, but, hey, this is art, and sweating the inconsequential comes with the territory.
While we’re on the subject of the dust-jacket there have been some developments on that front, too. A long time ago, Jerry suggested, and I opted for, a French-fold dust jacket, in which the jacket before folding extends four inches above he top and four inches below the bottom of the book. Before wrapping it around the book, the dust jacket is folded to the height of the book, so that the edges of the folded dust jacket are folded pieces of paper, and thus more substantial and durable than if they were a conventional single-ply dust jacket.
When I got the dummy, I noticed that the folded corners tended to catch on things. I asked Jerry if we could make a 45 degree cut before folding so that wouldn’t be a problem. Hemlock suggested a half-inch radius quarter-round instead. They quoted $350 to make the die and use it on 1000 dust covers, which is the only time in this book project that a quote has surprised me by being lower than I expected. That sounded even better, but we still need a way to trim the part of the dust jacket that are folded under so that you can’t see them. Jerry will get another quote.
Jerry had brought a selection of books that Hemlock had done with similar paper. We examined them to see if the cloth inner spine bent properly when the book was opened to a page in the middle of the book so that the pages lay flatter. Some did, some didn’t, and we couldn’t figure out what made the difference. It seemed as if there were a correlation between thickness and the spine behaving properly, with the thicker books showing the desired behavior more. There was a thickness beyond which there were no books where the spine stayed flat.
We looked carefully at the construction, or as carefully as we could without disassembling the books. The signatures are sewed to a cloth inner spine, and glue is applied as well. Then cloth caps are placed at the top and bottom of the spine so you can’t see what’s going on. The spine is attached to the cover on only one side; that way it can buckle properly. I don’t think the caps influence the buckling, since their influence would be limited to the top and bottom of the book, and the lack of flatness seems to extend the whole height of the page
Therefore, it seems to me that there are two things that could keep the inner spine from properly bucking, assuming the part that’s supposed to not be attached to the cover is indeed free to move. The first is that the cloth to which the signatures are stitched is too stiff. The second is that the glue makes the assembly too stiff. You can see how that last could happen: too much glue could result in glue traveling up the signatures away from the cloth inner spine, creating a stiller structure. If that proceeded far enough, you’d in effect have a perfect-bound book, which is not what we want at all.
I’m not going to be happy at all if the inner spines on a thousand books don’t bend properly. Jerry said that he’d talk to Hemlock again, and ask him what the difference was between the books that he has in which the cloth bends properly and in which it just stays flat.
I am frustrated by our inability to get this issue addressed. Anybody who designs a book with photos spreading across two pages has to care about this. I think that a big part of the problem is that Hemlock doesn’t do the binding; they sub it out. So Jerry can’t talk to the bindery. I asked him to ask Hemlock to let him do that.
We shall see,