How Are Books Made? A Quick Guide to Book Printing

Book printing has been around since the 15th century when Gutenberg invented the printing press. Nowadays, printing is more widespread than ever, giving billions of people around the world access to books.

But how exactly does book printing work? Although books are part of every household, most people would not be able to answer that question. But if you are curious about the process, read our quick guide to learn more.

Step 1: Typesetting

Before the typesetting stage, the author and the editor must decide on the font and its size, as well as the page size and style. Once design decisions have been made, the digital manuscript can be converted to match them and proofread to ensure there are no mistakes.

Step 2: Creating Pages

In the next stage, the pages’ layout is printed on a standard typing paper and proofread by an editor. Then, the text is printed on high-quality paper, sometimes referred to as a mechanical.

Step 3: Creating Negatives

The mechanical is suitable for filming, which is necessary for this next step. During the filming stage, the mechanical is photographed, and the photos are converted into negatives. These negatives show the opposite of what will be printed and may come in various shades illustrating the opposite of the colors present in the book.

Step 4: Stripping

For this step, printers use a large sheet called a flat. Flats typically hold 32 or 64 pages, and the negatives are taped onto them in a process called stripping. Then, flats need to be examined to ensure the text and photos are all properly aligned. At this stage, book pages do not need to be in order and may even be upside down.

Step 5: Blueprinting

Printers use light-sensitive paper (blueprint) to perform one final check before printing. They flash an ultraviolet light through the negatives and onto the blueprint. As a result, the text and images appear on the paper, allowing the printer to once again examine the work and look for mistakes.

Step 6: Making Plates

Each negative is melded onto a plate made of thin aluminum. Then, the plates are coated with an ink-attracting chemical crucial for the printing stage.

Step 7: Printing

Finally, the plates with negatives are taken to the press, which they need to pass through in order to be printed. Monochrome books only need to pass once, but those containing several colors need to go through the press a few times.

Step 8: Binding

Once the sheets dry, the pages are arranged in the correct order, split into 32 or 64-page sections, and bound. This process also includes gluing the spines, trimming the edges, and placing the book in its cover. Although it may sound complicated, it’s largely automated nowadays, so it goes fairly quickly.

Enjoy Your Book

As you can see, book printing is a complex process that requires particular care at every step. That’s why you shouldn’t entrust the task to just anyone – make sure to find a reputable printer with years of experience in the business. That way, once they finish providing book printing services, the physical copy of your book will be just as perfect as you’ve imagined!

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