May 9, 2011

The Making of a CCLaP Book: Part 1

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

Hooray! CCLaP's first paper book is finally available for purchase! And to mark the occasion, I thought I would do a special four-part photo essay here at the website this week, showing in obsessive detail exactly every step that goes into actually preparing, making, packing and shipping one of these things, for those who might be interested. After all, that's the main selling point in the first place of the center's new "Hypermodern Editions" series, is that they are all handmade, special versions of CCLaP's usual electronic books, designed specifically with professional collectors in mind (including hardback covers with decorative endpapers, exposed Coptic stitching, a signature/provenance page, an extended Colophon, a color photo adorning the cover, and more), but kept reasonably priced for all my fellow part-time collectors and creative-classers who simply don't have a lot of spare money for luxuries like fancy books. I literally make each and every paper book by hand that CCLaP sells, right here in my apartment in the Uptown neighborhood; so I thought what better way to help advertise them than to actually photograph myself making one, and share the images here with you along with some explanations all week at what you're looking at. (Or, well, actually, these were shot over the course of several bookmaking sessions, which is why the endpapers and other details might change from image to image.)

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

As you can imagine, it all starts with a good computer and decent page layout software; in this case, I'm using the top-of-the-line iMac I purchased last year with some of my bike-accident settlement money, running Adobe InDesign CS5. And of course the reason it's important to have good layout software for a project like this is that we need to output the pages not normally but in little foldable, self-contained packets, what are called "signatures" within the bookmaking industry. This is how one of CCLaP's books is held together, by folding together eight half-sheets of paper into a little 32-page mini-booklet and then stitching them to the others; but that means you need software that lets you manipulate these pages and move them around on virtual sheets of paper, a very difficult thing to pull off in a simple application like Microsoft Word. This also takes quite a bit of math and attention to detail to get right, so it's wise to look more into how to create correct fold-over pagination before throwing yourself into a project like this.

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

When it's ready, then, I output it to my new laserprinter, purchased specifically for the center's new paper-publishing program, which means that all our profits at first must go towards paying off items like the ones you'll see in these photos. Did I mention, by the way, that CCLaP's first paper book is finally available for purchase?

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

Then next, I chop the printed pages in half with my new paper-cutter, picked up cheaply at Office Depot. Absolutely do not go straight to a fancy paper store if you're thinking of trying a project like this; the vast majority of the items you'll need can be picked up much more cheaply at places like Michael's, Target, office-supply stores, and through mail order at big professional places like Hollander's in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is where I myself bought most of my bookmaking-specific tools and supplies. (Do definitely keep going to the fancy paper stores, by the way; but just save your money there specifically for fancy paper, which is what they most excel at.)

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

And now, off to my neighborhood coffeehouse, for a little Netflix Streaming and folding party. Folding Party! Folding Party! All the kids are doing it!

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

That takes care of the interior manuscript; now it's time to cut up the material needed for the front covers! Like I said, I just order this stuff in bulk quantities from Hollander's via mail order, although there are lots of other options available, from local purchases to literally gluing together bundles of flattened cereal boxes. This is all a book cover is, really, is just hard particle board, which I slice up with an extra-sharp box cutter into the sizes I need; so eight finished pieces in this case from a two-by-three-foot sheet, which will eventually yield covers for four books.

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

And then the fabric and decorative endpapers that cover this board work exactly the same way; they ship in giant two-by-three-foot sheets, and you simply cut them down with an X-Acto blade to the sizes you need.

The Making of a CCLaP Book: A special photo essay

And then finally before we're ready to start assembling all the parts, I cut out the color photo that will adorn the front cover, two by three inches in size, which I create by combining four of them into a 4 x 6 JPEG, then printing off onto glossy paper at the Target down the street from my apartment. Ironically, for this providing so much of the finished book's entire visual flair, this is maybe the easiest step of the entire process.

And that's it for today; but I hope you'll stop by again tomorrow, as we get into the process of assembling and pressing the covers. And of course I hope you'll have a chance to actually order a copy of one of these paper books soon!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 1:07 PM, May 9, 2011. Filed under: CCLaP Publishing | CCLaP news | Chicago news | Design | Literature | Profiles |