EAnotes

Watching the Presses

It’s quite something to see the book that you’ve worked on for so long rolling off the presses – but that is what I did last Thursday. I went with Granta’s publishing director, Bella Lacey, to CPI Books in Kent to visit their plant and to watch the printing of all the 5,000 hardbacks that were to be printed for the first print run of Warrior: A Life of War in Anglo-Saxon Britain.

Having heard for so many years about the death of manufacturing industry in Britain, it was great to see a factory, employing 150 people, that has gone from strength to strength. Indeed, talking to Mark, the sales director, who took us round the plant, we learned that they have had to employ more people to cope with the demand. Because of their ability to print anywhere from one to a million books, the very quick turnaround they provide from receiving the files to printing the books, and the much lower transportation costs, CPI has turned back the tide of jobs flowing to China. The presses are rolling 24 hours a day, six days a week, with the company producing between two and three million books a week!

We were taken through the whole print cycle, from the production of the print type for 32 pages of the book (which is why books are produced in multiples and factors of 32), through to printing, folding, cutting, binding and covering the books. For the last stage, we got to see Warrior itself go from a shrink wrapped pile of bound pages to the fully jacketed finished product, ready to go off to the booksellers. It was a fascinating and enlightening day: my thanks to Granta and CPI Books for making it possible. Here are some photos of the process.

Bella inspecting the photo typeset

The typeset from which the book is printed.

Pages being printed.

Printed pages running through the production line.

Pages being made ready for cutting.

Pages now cut into 32 page sections ready for binding.

All the printed sections of a book, ready for binding.

One of the huge rolls of paper used to print books.

Warrior, with its cover on, ready for it to be bound tightly.

The next pallet of Warriors, waiting to be bound.

An author with his books (the gentleman behind has seen it all before!).

Printed Warriors, ready for the final stages of binding.

Finished copy of Warrior. Now all it needs is its jacket.

Putting on the jackets.

Jacketed and bound copies of Warrior rolling off to be stacked, ready for shipping.

Notice how the hardback cover gradually settles under its own weight.

Author and the final product: a printed, bound and covered book.

8 copies of Warrior, ready to be stacked on the pallet for shipping.

All set to go!

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