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Re: Letterpress or DTP software?

Suzanne has asked some relatively easy questions but the answers are
difficult. Like so many other choices, it depends on what *you* want.

Letterpress printing is difficult to do well. It is time, and space,
consuming. And, as Pat has pointed out, it is dirty, both in terms of ink
and cleaning solvents. On the other hand the end result can cause emotional
responses bordering on sinful ;-)

Suzanne, ask yourself if you respond equally to a hand-bound book and a
commercially bound book? Do you respond equally to a letterpress page and a
laser-printed page? If the answer to either is yes, or that you can't see
the difference, I recommend DTP. As one who has done both I submit that DTP
has a more immediate gratification, is easier to make changes, and is
capable of better halftone reproduction. Also, future technological
development will be geared to improving ease of use and quality of image
reproduction whereas letterpress is an antiquated -- though not dead --
technology, meaning any improvements will be made by individuals attempting
to solve individual problems rather than trying to advance the
possibilities of industrial technology.

I suspect that, in the long run, letterpress may be somewhat cheaper mainly
because if you are a careful shopper you will find bargains on what is,
essentially, antiquated equipment which, when properly cared for, will last
your lifetime. Computers are less well made and expensive to fix. Also they
become outdated fairly quickly and most people have a tendency to want the
latest models with faster speeds and more bells and whistles. Software is
incredibly expensive, especially for occasional users who can't amortize
the costs the way professional users can. Computer equipment takes up much
less space than does computer equipment and the space doesn't need to be
reinforced to carry the weight of iron presses and tons of lead type.

It sounds to me that you have already explored several different -- of the
many -- methods of making marks on paper (rubber stamping, calligraphy) and
you state that, at this point, you are happy to make blank books. I
strongly recommend that before you invest in a letterpress shop you attend
several workshops or even offer yourself as an apprentice to a letterpress
printer. If you are still enamoured of the process then more power to you.

Good luck,

Richard Miller <rmiller@peterboro.net>

I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy
than be a success at something I hate. (George Burns)

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