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Re: Bad luck?



Dwight,
I fully concur with your observations, only the thought remains that while
mechanization has driven down (sometimes I doubt it) the price of books,
much has been sacrificed in the way of aesthetics.  Enter the binder-
artist who sees a book poorly constructed and undertakes its rebirth.
A pheonix from the veritable ashes of its former self will emerge and
a life once thouught limited by the publisher (I refer specifically to
the quick depletion of new titles and the reluctance of university
presses to go into additional printings) will be revitalized in a way
never thought imaginable.  But, while I love technology and mechanization
much of the love that once went into making (from setting type to finished
product) a book has fallen by the way-side and bookbinders as a profession
is a rather limited one in that our numbers are never near what they once
were.  But machines make greivious errors and no one really notices until
the actual mechanics of the thing go haywire. Therefore even though paper
goes into a press from a roll, somewhere along the line it is cut and
folded, if the machines fumbles and the paper jambs, well, no one really
notices because all that heard is a click, thump, hic, bump, and the
machines resumes it happy hum, but alas, one page, a simple sheet with
eight pages printed on it has suddenly gone from nice and smooth to
crimped and boggled, the quality assurance person should be somewhere
in the line where the sheet is folded to mark mishaps as they occur.  But
like you said, the cost would be reflected in the price of the book and
though this mishap happens frequently it isn't prevalent enough to warrant
a additional Q&A person on the line.  And besides the whole process happens
so quickly that the human eye-hand response time might be lost and the
errant sheet swiftly on its way to completion.  But let us say that
the book actually becomes bound and the error never noticed so that the
book is sold and some chump orders it because its mail order and I don't
get the chance to inspect my books before I pay for them.  I receive the
get the chance to inspect my books before I pay for them.  I receive the
erroneous book and notice the problem and realize that as such the book
is useless to me, therefore I ring-up the publisher to complain.  They
appologize and I am sent a new book, this time THEY looked at it before
they shipped it (funny, why didn't they do so last time?), but what happens
to the bad book? They want it back, naturally and I send it, but will they
be responsible and recycle it?  or will they, upon seeing that I wasn't
trying to decieve them, chuck it in the dumpster and add it to the loss
column?  chances are they'll opt for the second.  And in this age of an
accute awareness of the rapid depletion of natural resources I ask in my
returning this book how many trees am I throwing away?  True the book
was already printed and the tree already long-dead and pulverized, but
had this unfortunate book been caught during its assemblege maybe, just
maybe this whole mess might have been avoided, because I am certain, in
this age of automation that one quire, let's say an erroneous quire
can be extracted and a new quire printed, folded and inserted prior to
the binding thereby assuring a "clean" book, rather than allowing it
to pass, to be distributed and to be returned and thrown away.
Printing and binding are probably two distinct phases in publishing even
today, aren't they and folding is probably done by a machine seperate from
the press, it would seem that the sheets must be collated before they
go to the folder and binding machines and it is between the steps that
quality assurance should take place.  An eight-fold quire goes from being
folded to the binding table and making it up takes place.  Now if this book
were to be hand-bound, and sewing occurs back to front, if the binder well
intot he project finds that she/he placed has the signatures going A-B-D-C-E
wouldn't that binder disassemble and reassemble the work?  Therefore
shouldn't a QA person be employed to ensure that all is well with the
book between folding and binding?  and if it isn't shouldn't the book
be pulled then and there and not be allowed to go into circulation?
You see, what I see as the problem in all this is that pride in work is
missing in a publisher who allows a book such as this to be distributed,
that somewhere along the line someone in the production end dropped the
ball and shoddy craftsmanship occurred.  I have never been to a print shop
except when I was in the Navy, and you know the Petty Officer in charge
would inspect every pamphlet that was issued by the ship's press, because
most of the materials printed went up to the Executive division aboard
ship, and the Captain doesn't like his reports shoddily produced, the
Navy cites people for stuff like that, and while I didn't care for my
ship-board life, I can see where QA was a big part of Navy life, because
I was on a Submarine Tender and a shoddy plate weld could spell trouble
for a sub crew out on patrol.  Bookbinders care, at least I know that I
do, and it really sickens me to see a book poorly produced, and being a
student many of my highly over-priced textbooks are very poorly produced.
My French book for example, TWICE (two different copies) fell apart on
me, so that I actually payed a professional binder in Street Maryland to
bind the book properly so that I might get some use out of it,  but
other books have fallen apart in my hands as well, and all are the result of
shoddy craftsmanship and cheap materials.  Acidified paper came about when
the demand for emphemerae sky-rocketed in the 19th C., and look at what
its brought about.  Some presses only print on neutral paper, fine, these
books cost more and generally they are constructed better than the "other"
books, my point, if only the publishers would CARE as much about their
product as they do about profits I really feel that a greater degree of
efficiency will prevail.  How hard would it be to promote the person who
carries the folded quires over to the binder to the status of QA inspector?
What about the person who receives that quires and feeds them into the
binder?  someone along the line can take one additional step to ensure that
the assembled book is acceptable at every stage post-printing.  If only
these people, these publishers would care, that's all I'm asking, and
that's all I expect.  I become very annoyed when I see a book with a
bent cover or marred corners, it just makes me cringe, because people
who are around books most of the time seem to become desensitized to their
value, in and of themselves, I mean even book stores throw their stock
around so indesriminately that I often have to wonder how do these people
keep their jobs?  and the answer is:  no body seems to care anymore about
the service they provide, they just want that meagre paycheck and their
off-time.  Well, I am not like that, I really demand better of myself and
from others and when a book reaches me that is the result of someone else's
apathy, I get very upset.  I ask you all to forgove my temperament, but
in this case I think it justified.
Sincerely,
Rommel John Miller
a guy who cares about books


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