This is part of a series about my experiences in publishing a book. The series starts here.
You might be asking, “What is a ‘strike test’?” If you know, congratulations. If you are in the dark, just as I was until yesterday, read on.
When we last left the book, it was printed, and we had “folds and gathers” – all pages of the book cut to size with the signatures folded and assembled. That means the only thing to do is the binding, right? Not so fast. Jerry Takigawa, the book designer, had specified that the lettering on the cover and the spine of the book be embossed deeply into the material, and the recessed areas filled with a metallic inlay. We needed to proof that.
Jerry sent me a PDF of the cover lettering. It looked good. The bindery ran off a proof. That’s the strike test. It arrived at Jerry’s office yesterday. It turns out that the bindery went an extra mile: they sent Jerry a complete bound book. Not only that, but they filled the lettering on the cover with a gloss black material, and the lettering on the spine with the specified metallic stuff to show us another treatment.
I met with Jerry yesterday and looked at the book. It looked really good. We both are preferred the metallic inlays. This whole business of embossing and inlaying is probably unnecessary, since 99 percent of the owners of this book will probably never remove the dust jacket, and therefore won’t see the beautiful lettering that Jerry and I, not to mention the bindery, have worked on getting right. But one of the great things about art is sweating details that almost nobody but the creator is going to care about.
There will be a small run of boxes to hold a copy of the book and a portfolio with the two inkjet prints; it will use the same embossing and inlaying.
The bindery also included the book dust cover. The laminate that we’re using to make it more durable had just a look that we were hoping for: a slight matte finish that won’t show fingerprints, yet not so rough that it will sap the energy from the cover image. The dust cover has a French fold, in which extra material at the top and bottom is folded over before the cover is wrapped around the book. Earlier, I had noticed two potential problems with that arrangement.
First, there were two points of folded material that stuck out at the top and bottom of the inside of the book. I was afraid that they were going to catch on things and be points of wear. So we asked Hemlock to make a die to allow rounding the corners. Second, the parts of the folded material toward the center of the book stuck out. We asked Hemlock to taper the material that was on the inside of the fold, so that you wouldn’t be able to see the extra layer.
The tapering worked fine. The rounding at a small unintended consequence: there was a tiny bit of white visible at the corners. It would be possible to redo the die so that the corner area that’s going to go on the bottom is cut back a little more than the corner area on the top, but that would be expensive, and it may be that the covers have already been cut. We will leave it as it as. This detail sweating stuff has its limits.
Jerry had specified black endcaps for the binding, and we got silver ones. I thought they looked nice, but we agreed that Jerry will find out if they can go back to the black ones.
Since we had a bound book, I opened it up to several of the double page full bleed images to see if the pages lay flat enough. They did!
I don’t think there’s much more that needs to happen before I get my hands on a few pallet loads of books.