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March 4, 2007

All Knowledge Is Contained
Posted by Patrick at 09:45 AM * 211 comments

You know that bit from Teresa in the sidebar about our readers being the best thing about Making Light? In the comment thread following the post that links to SFRevu’s interview with me, frequent commenter Abi Sutherland has posted a five-part history of bookbinding, from ancient Egypt to the modern day. Interesting and trenchant stuff, even (or perhaps especially) for people like me who really aren’t all that enraptured by the romance of books as physical objects.

UPDATE: Abi explains some terms of art.

Comments on All Knowledge Is Contained:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Attendees of the Mike Ford memorial benefit auction at Boskone will remember gaping in admiration at one piece of Abi's bookbinding work, this rebound copy of Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amato's The Dream Hunters. More here.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Sheesh, Patrick, now I'm all embarrassed*. Thank you for the compliments.

I would describe the narrative as being truthful, but occasionally sightly inaccurate. I had to simplify a few things, skip a lot, and separate out trends that were actually intertwined to make the piece work at less than book length. Still, it was more fun and absorbing to write than I expected, and producing it brought me out of a deep emotional trough.

You also remind me that I'll have to update my site. After I quit my job, when I have time - if I don't get sucked into all those binding projects I have waiting in the wings.

-----
* and grateful for the spelling reference

#3 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 11:49 AM:

What is the future of the book as a physical object? The Internet has already dropped the price of reading matter to effectively free, but I can't take my laptop into the bath***. Will electronic paper mean that we each only own one book, and change the content at will? Will the next generation read onscreen as well as I read on paper? Will civilisation fall, leaving me with a new career as a skilled bookbinder in a wasteland of crumbling perfect bindings?

Or will the book return to being the province of the wealthy. A highly decorative object, valued as much for display as content - or perhaps more for display.

#4 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 01:03 PM:

#3: That's the one thing that worries me about fine bookbinding -- the need to read with care (as abi's sonnet says). I'd probably be too intimidated to even open a book as beautiful as the ones she does, even though I'm not a scribbler-in-margins and only mark *galleys* (in pencil, and not all that often).

Still, it's good to see books this deserving being elevated to something like sacred objects, in contrast to the cheap paperbacks that someone reads halfway through, then tosses -- maybe with a broken spine.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 01:05 PM:

I don't know about the future of books, but I do know that my future has in it a book bound by abi. Woohoo!!!

#6 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 01:08 PM:

My mother the retired librarian really wants to read this: may I cut & paste into paper form (unbound, alas) for her?

#7 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 01:12 PM:

For those of you who enjoy stuff about handmade books, Google Alisa Golden and go into her website, www.neverbook.com. She is a poet and artist and makes her own books. Great stuff. Those of you in the Bay Area might want to check out her work sometime.

#8 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 01:17 PM:

interesting stuff. As I was reading all five parts, I was occaisionally reminded that I have no idea what she's talking about, when some vocabulary term would come up and I'd have no idea where this, this, thing goes, or what it looks like.

The thing that stuck out for me was that, once again, it seems like a lot of major advances come down to simple material science stuff.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Abi, did I ever mention that the first time I picked up your specially-bound copy of Atlanta Nights, I literally whimpered out loud in horror? It wasn't the cover that did it, dire though that was -- and yes, I noticed that all of the S's were upside-down. (The hideous kerning on the first and last A's in "ATLANTA" was a nice touch too.) (Likewise the squidged-out extra glue. And that hideous sparkly purple paper. And the folded-back leather on the back.) (Eeeeeesh.)

What got me was the book block itself. It hadn't previously occurred to me that binding cross-grained sheets could be an issue, but when I took hold of the pages to flip through them, I actually experienced for a moment that genre fantasy cliche, the Sense of Wrongness.* That's when I yelped. If I hadn't had the book resting in my lap, I think I might have dropped it.

The off-square trim helped. I have trouble seeing straight lines and ninety-degree angles -- I caught a flying piece of broken glass with my right cornea when I was a kid, and the world's been slightly bent ever since -- so I felt the off-square trim before I registered it visually. That book just felt wrong all over. It smelled wrong, too. It was glorious.

If you'd bound that book in material that takes fingernail marks, it would gradually get covered with little crescent-shaped indentations, recording the hand-tightening cringes of the people who'd examined it.

If you ever want to make another Thoroughly Bad Book, talk to me. I'm a geek about the insides of books, and there's evil yet to do, like putting the title page on a verso, followed by a blank recto, followed by something other than the copyright page. You could count the first page as 0, thus screwing up the recto-and-verso odds and evens throughout. If the book didn't have any footnotes, you could insert some, just for the joy of having the first one say "Ibid." Folios could be flush-left on recto and flush-right on verso, and could continue into any blank pages at the end. Running heads could be flush left at the foot of the page, with no space separating them from the main text. Chapter heads and chapter sinks could be mishandled ad libitum. (Bad drop caps could be involved.)

Naturally, lateralized curly quotes would have to be replaced by straight quotes, snugged-up em-dashes by a double hyphen with spaces to either side, and ellipses by three periods separated by spaces (the better to break at line ends). Paragraphs could have 0.75" indents. The whole thing could be set in Peignot, except for the footnotes, which would be in 9 pt. Avant Garde Light.

It's all book production geekery. You know the joke about software engineers answering questions in ways that are technically precise but useless to the occasion? I once irritated an intern by absentmindedly answering her question, "What's recto?", with "The side that didn't have hair on it."

__________
*See also: Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

#10 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Wow, those are fun.
Minor spelling niggle, though--It's Amano, not Amato. He's an impressive fellow.

#11 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 02:21 PM:

#9: Booksmell!* So what was wrong with Travis Tea's?

*Also known as the odour of sanctity.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Why it smells wrong, as described on Abi's website:

To match the astonishingly bad quality of the prose, the Evilrooster Bindery has created this abysmal hardcover binding. It is bound cross-grained, out of non-archival and archivally hostile materials. The book block has been trimmed entirely off square, so that there are no right angles on the pages. Most of the adhesive used in the book is highly acidic woodworking glue, and the purple leather so badly placed on the spine and corners is from an old leather jacket. The lettering is atrocious - globby, misaligned, and badly placed. (Note that all of the S's are upside down).

#13 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Oh, of course woodworking glue would smell wrong. When I read the description, I was distracted by imagining yellowish glue squodged on purple sparkly paper.

Now where did I put my mental Brillo?

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:07 PM:

Teresa,
I didn't know you'd seen that binding. I sent it to Pete Heck and it vanished from my ken. I don't know if it ever got auctioned, or if so, how it did. I've sent him a couple of emails since, but received no reply.

I'm glad that it did get around, and that the rather evil delight I took in binding it showed.

We all have our "button" issues. Mine was the off-square book blocks, because I do have a very close eye for right angles and parallel lines. Reading that copy made my eyes want to leave my head in opposite directions.

And I did work quite hard at that cross-grained binding. The degree to which the paper cockles when you bind the wrong way* is determined by how wet you get it (causing the spine to be bigger than the edges) and how fast the adhesive dries (fixing the expansion in place before it subsides). Woodworking glue is a really rapid adhesive, so by wetting the pages a good bit, then applying the glue, I managed a significant ruffling effect. The pages were barely turnable. I'm really proud of that aspect of the binding.

Wood glue also smells a little sour. The nose knows that smell is the Death of Books.

I had no knowledge of how to mangle the internal formatting, and so went for simple incompetence. I do regret that it doesn't match the carefully constructed evil of the physical structure, but I didn't know you well enough to ask your help.

It's also important to note the details that I got really right, to distinguish malice aforethought from amateurishness. The headbands**, for instance, are actually really nicely sewn, and may outlast the rest of the book. They came out so pretty that I've got them as the banner image on evilrooster.com.

-----
* For the non book geeks - paper has a grain, which usually runs the long way up and down a sheet of paper. Grain, determined by the direction of all the little fibres that make up paper, determines how the paper folds, feels, and reacts to moisture. You want it to run the long way on the pages of a book, parallel to the spine. You may not notice it, if you haven't trained your eyes and hands - but if you have, and you find a cross-grained book, it's a constant low niggle as you handle the pages.

** The bright stripy things at the top and bottom of the spine

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:09 PM:

Comesleep @10
The typo comes from the website but not, I promise you, from the book box label itself. I am meticulous at that stage, but sloppy thereafter.

I will fix it.

The fox image on the cover is actually based on one of his drawings inside the book. He is amazing.

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Linkmeister @6
Of course you may print it out and show it to her. I hope she enjoys it.

#17 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Greg @8:
As I was reading all five parts, I was occasionally reminded that I have no idea what she's talking about, when some vocabulary term would come up and I'd have no idea where this, this, thing goes, or what it looks like.

I am sorry - like anyone deeply engaged in a specialist subject, I sometimes forget which words are terms of art and which are widely comprehensible.

Please tell me which terms you didn't get, and I'll be happy to explain.

The thing that stuck out for me was that, once again, it seems like a lot of major advances come down to simple material science stuff.

That may be my bias showing. Working with these materials makes me intensely conscious of how they have influenced binding over the centuries. A non-binder might very well have taken a different tack.

On the other hand, the people making the innovations and decisions were primarily bookbinders themselves, as intimately connected to the materials as I am. If the history of binding is a long series of problems, then our approach to solving them is deeply rooted in the properties of the materials we are using. Otherwise, we betray the craft.

What interests me (and this probably showed as well) is where those problems came from. What real human factors drove each change, and what effect did that change then have on the human beings?

#18 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:50 PM:

abi,

below are the sentences where I got lost. Looking at them all at once, it seems like I get confused by a verbal description of a book's components when put all together. That may be simply because I'm visually oriented and would prefer a diagram with labels.

Alternatives would be to have some explanations for the following terms:

chain stitches. signatures. headbands. end papers (different than covers?). cords. "book block".

When you say something like: "The book block was sewn on cords sawn into the signatures" and there are four things I have no clue about, I get all woozy.

Here are the actual excerpts that tripped me up:

Rather than sewing the book with chain stitches, they started sewing the signatures onto leather strips or linen cords running across the spine. These cords could then be laced into the wooden covers, providing a much more secure attachment.

sewing brightly coloured silk headbands at the top and bottoms of the spines.

Endpapers were introduced, often marbled. And covers began to glitter with gold.

The head and tail have bright silk headbands sewn directly on the book, not stuck on, like modern headbands. Endpapers are generally marbled.

Structurally, the seventeenth century style consists of signatures sewn on raised linen cords (usually five). The leather of the spine is attached to the backs of the sections, usually with a couple of layers of paper, fabric or leather padding.

This meant that the leather across the spine of the book was not attached to the backs of the signatures, but floated free of them. The book block was sewn on cords sawn into the signatures, or onto linen ribbons that lay flat across the spine.

ends of the tapes or cords (frayed flat) were trapped between the endpapers and the covers.

The signatures were sewn onto thin cotton ribbons, and pre-made headbands were glued onto the spine along with a cotton lining. The book block was then pasted into a separate case, with the endpapers providing the adhesive surface.

#19 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Teresa at #9, you do bring back memories...

I have seen almost all those faults, or their moral equivalents, in fanfiction zines. Not just zines produced in the days of typewriters, or early wordprocessors, when it was an understandable consequence of the technology available to the amateur press on a tight budget. I've seen them in the last few years, when people could and should have been able to do something just a little better.

And better yet, I have seen these zines praised for their production standards. How beautifully they were put together, how well the zine looked and handled. And after the first time I was silly enough to suggest in public that perhaps, just perhaps, some improvements might be made, I decided that there were some arguments that just weren't worth getting into. :-)

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Greg,

Surprisingly, the web doesn't really have any good visual dictionaries of bookbinding terms. I'll add it to the list of things to put on my instructional site, since a couple of photographs with text and arrows could really do wonders.

Get the nicest hardback book you have to hand and I'll go through some of the terms while you turn it to and fro in your hands.

Got it? Here we go.

The book has six sides, like any rectangular prism. You're familiar with front (the bit with the title - start reading here), back (stop reading when you get there) and spine. The other three sides are the head (at the top when it stands on the shelf), tail (resting on the shelf) and fore edge (the side opposite the spine, where the pages open).

The book consists of a cover and a book block, which is basically the chunk of paper that contains the text. The cover has stiff bits, still called boards (although they are no longer made of wood) and a less stiff bit over the spine of the book. Unless you're a bibliophile, your hardback book is probably a hollow back book, meaning that the spine bit of the cover is not stuck to the spine bit of the book block. (You probably didn't realise that they ever are stuck together. I didn't.)

Look at the spine edge of the head of the book (stand it up with the opening facing you and look at the top surface). If it's a nice enough book, you'll see a brightly coloured strip of material peeping over the top of the pages. This is the headband, which has been made separately and glued on. I know how to sew them directly on the book, a skill whose acquisition always includes a certain longing to be an octopus. Here is the purple and gold one I made on Atlanta Nights.

Set the book aside for a moment and get some paper. A4 or 8 1/2 x 11 will do. Stack up a few sheets - commercial books use 16 sheets*, but the number is immaterial. Fold your stack of sheets in half. You have just created a signature. Sewn bindings are made up of lots of these signatures sewn together. Many perfect bindings are made up of these signatures all stacked up, with their folds cut off and the cut ends glued in place. Put enough signatures together and you have the book block. Here are three book blocks, one sewn on cords and two on tapes (see below).

The very first and very last pages of the book block are often of special paper - coloured, marbled, or otherwise pretty. These are the endpapers. The endpaper that gets glued to the inside of the cover is also known as a pastedown, while the bit that faces it is the flyleaf. In a cased binding, as I described, the pastedown is what holds the book block and the cover together.

Go back to the book now, and we'll talk about chain stitches, cords, and tapes. These are all ways of attaching the signatures to one another. Chain stitching (a translation of a German term, sorry) means sewing along the inside of one signature, then along the inside of the next one up, so that the only thing that attaches neighbouring signatures is thread. Sewing on cords is like taking a shoelace and laying it from the front cover of the book to the back cover of the book, and then sewing so your signatures are anchored to it. Tapes are cotton or linen ribbons that follow the same path as cords, but are flat. Sawn cords require that you take a saw to the stack of signatures, cutting a groove deep and wide enough to actually sink the cords into the body of the book**.

Come back with further questions. I teach bookbinding by email sometimes, and your questions are excellent feedback.

------
* This is a lie. It's one big piece of paper folded, sewn, and trimmed. Ignore the truth in this context.
** Yes, it shows when you open the book. Weakens the structure, too. But it's faster.

#21 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Abi, that purple-and-gold headband looks like a blanket stitch. Is it?

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 05:13 PM:

TexAnne @21
I don't think it could be described as such. A blanket stitch edges a piece of fabric, but in this case there is no fabric under the stitching.

It's really a technique of wrapping thread around a leather core (round or rectangular), tying that leather core down to the book block at regular intervals. The twists at the bottom are a method of locking the previous thread in place after it's wrapped around the core.

#23 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 05:24 PM:

It hadn't previously occurred to me that binding cross-grained sheets could be an issue, but when I took hold of the pages to flip through them, I actually experienced for a moment that genre fantasy cliche, the Sense of Wrongness.

One of the releases of Corel Draw had a reference manual (showing samples of all the fonts, clip art, clip photos, and various templates) printed with this 'feature'. Painful to use. I'm surprised it was ever shipped with the program.

#24 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 05:38 PM:

abi 22: It's possible to do blanket stitch over a free-standing thread. Like this or this. So you can see why I was confused.

(Those sites are describing blanket stitch, even though they call it buttonhole stitch. True buttonhole has an extra loop-knot-thing for reinforcement on, you know, buttonholes...)

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Abi, I saw the book because Sean Fodera, who works upstairs in SMP Legal, is another Atlanta Nights author, and he brought it down so I could admire it. He got the book from Peter, and was transporting it to -- drat, I forget which convention. It was duly auctioned off, and the proceeds donated to the SFWA EMF. Someone should have sent you a thank-you letter: SFWA => SNAFU.

I wouldn't say your pages were nearly unturnable, but the feel and the degree of the book block's resistance to turning, in relation to the characteristics of the paper itself, registered as "something is seriously wrong" in my hand. I now know far more than I used to about the binding of The King in Yellow, The Necronomicon, and other famously infernal books.

Your headbands are indeed pretty -- and you're right about the need to get some things right in order to establish the work as parody, not garden-variety ineptitude. If I were doing parodic interior design, I wouldn't use non-proportional type or zero leading in body text, or insert an extra line space between paragraphs (esp. those with initial indents), or turn off hyphenation to produce wildly variable word spacing. Any idiot can do that, as demonstrated by many of the self-published books that are submitted to Tor. But a perfectly standard, well-typeset title page, correct in all other particulars, that's placed on a verso page and facing a blank -- that hurts.

Some years back, I saw a fancy leatherbound limited special edition of some classic work of SF or F being sold in a dealers' room. Needless to say, the thing was quite expensive. The moment I flipped through its pages, I realized that the publisher had taken an old Ace paperback edition of the work, and shot up the pages: that is, taken a photographic image of the old blobby low-resolution printing done on cheap absorbent wood-pulp paper, enlarged it, and offset-printed their edition from that image.

(If you've never worked in the printing trades: enlargement is an automatic loss of resolution. Imagine taking text printed at 600 d.p.i., and photoenlarging it to twice its original size. What you now have is 300 d.p.i. text.)

Old Ace paperbacks had barely-utilitarian interior type design and unreliable proofreading; and photoenlarging something that was low-res to start with is just plain ugly. Finding it printed on good paper in an aspirational binding curdled my brain.

Julia (19), we do love the work of our own hands. Getting beginning publishers to see that they have room for improvement is like getting beginning potters to understand that not everything they throw is worth firing.

Be prepared to see more of the same. Remember when the first Macintoshes hit, and people who didn't know anything about typography suddenly had the power to use a dozen different fonts in one document? The setup and manufacturing costs for short-run printing and perfect binding are getting so low now that just about anyone can make a book.

#26 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 05:55 PM:

TexAnne @24:

I can't find a good diagram of the basic headbanding stitch. And I can't describe it adequately. If I find something helpful, I will post it.

But it isn't a blanket stitch, because it has two threads of different colours interacting. The blanket stitch and button hole stitches are single threads, and self-locking.

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Remember when the first Macintoshes hit, and people who didn't know anything about typography suddenly had the power to use a dozen different fonts in one document?

Some of them are still doing it. Where I work we get junk faxes with eight or nine typefaces in them. I haven't seen Peignot in one, but maybe they haven't discovered it yet (hard to believe).

Abi, my copy of the Kansas Home Cook Book is coming apart enough to see the newspaper backing of the spine.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Teresa @25:

Glad to hear the binding sold. I wasn't sure it was of a calibre to be worth auctioning; thought it might have been quietly dropped after lack of interest.

I now know far more than I used to about the binding of The King in Yellow, The Necronomicon, and other famously infernal books.

One day, I'll describe the thought experiment I did on how to make an entire book from human body parts. (You can't cross-grain it, though.)

the publisher had taken an old Ace paperback edition of the work, and shot up the pages: that is, taken a photographic image of the old blobby low-resolution printing done on cheap absorbent wood-pulp paper, enlarged it, and offset-printed their edition from that image.

WHAT? That is no little fault, proceeding on distemper. Someone decided to do that. Other people participated in the effort, with actual time they could have used to kick puppies instead. And then they put it on good paper?

That's bad craftsmanship, chew'd, swallow'd and digested, and I can say no worse.

Be prepared to see more of the same. Remember when the first Macintoshes hit, and people who didn't know anything about typography suddenly had the power to use a dozen different fonts in one document? The setup and manufacturing costs for short-run printing and perfect binding are getting so low now that just about anyone can make a book.

I'm still absorbing the latest iteration of the Mac revolution. My father has a letterpress and type in his basement (has since I was a small child). He went to a press maintenance workshop the other week, and discovered that his classmates don't set their own type. They format it on a Mac and send it the PDF out to get polymer plates made, then print from them.

Gutenberg is turning in his grave. I merely made much the same whimpering sound, reading his email, as you made handling Atlanta Nights

#29 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 06:21 PM:

PJ Evans @27:

Abi, my copy of the Kansas Home Cook Book is coming apart enough to see the newspaper backing of the spine.

An evil custom. Newsprint is highly acidic, so using it to line spines is like using a hand grenade to build your stone wall. You incorporate destruction right into your structure. (It was not uncommon. That does not make it good.)

The practice stems from the older custom of using misprinted pages for the same purpose. That was OK - the misprinted pages had the same acid content as the book itself, and the same failure profile. I do it myself*.

-----
* Which of course makes it the rule and standard of rightness**.
** Not.

#30 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Teresa @25: The particular zine that led me to sit on my hands in future episodes was, alas, a zine from an old hand, and I do think that was the problem. She was a sufficiently old hand that she had started in the days of typewritten masters, and while she did not succumb to Attack of the Fifty Foot Font List, she also did not see that there were certain improvements that might be made in the page and zine layout. Not least of these was the page numbering that involved auto-numbering all the text pages, but not allowing for illo pages which were simply inserted into the stack to be photocopied -- this leading to odd and even numbers swapping sides after every illo. Ick. Ick ick ick.

I am involved as an author in the erotic romance ebook publishing scene, and thus have already seen the early results of affordable short runs. It is truly amazing how an otherwise competent publisher can make a complete hash of a book when porting it from electronic to dead tree format. I wince at the physical presentation when I flick through some of the books in Borders. There is that sense of wrongness, because things are in the wrong place. It *itches* somewhere inside my head. And yet I have seen some of these books in electronic format, and know that in their native format they are well-presented and sometimes beautiful.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Abi, re the Mac stuff: Macs are really big in prepress stuff. I think it contributes to the generally boring quality of a lot of printed material. Printfest (formerly Gutenberg) is in a couple of months here in LA. You get to see all that stuff; real presses, not so much any more, although I hear that equipment shows up in Chicago later in the year.

Cheap binding, yes, although the newspaper is in better shape than the pages! The cook book is also well-used, which didn't help its spine any. They actually bound onionskin into the signatures (two sheets in the center of each one) to allow additional recipes, but the various owners wrote in stuff, or pasted it in, all through the book. I want to scan it (very carefully) so it can be printed and used again.

#32 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 07:07 PM:

#28: "Gutenberg is turning in his grave. I merely made much the same whimpering sound, reading his email . . . "

Wait . . . Gutenberg is sending you email from his grave?

#33 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 07:07 PM:

abi, 26: Ooh, now I want to learn how to do that. Just because it involves needle and thread. If I ever visit Scotland, will you show me?

#34 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 07:26 PM:

#31: "Macs are really big in prepress stuff. I think it contributes to the generally boring quality of a lot of printed material."

Do you really want to defend the proposition that, before the widespread availability of powerful graphic design tools on desktop computers, most printed material wasn't boringly designed?

I vas dere, Chollie. Before PageMaker, laser printers, and the same damn Adobe fonts over and over again, there were Compugraphic typesetting machines and the same damn Letraset typefaces over and over again. And before that, other technologies and other reasons for the same old same old.

All the best and most creative designers I know use computers, and they show no perceptible inclination to return to waxers, X-Acto knives, and Zip-a-tone.

#35 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 08:48 PM:

#20: Abi, that pretty much explained all the missing vocabulary. Thanks. I can almost visualize the process now. About the only thing still a little fuzzy is the actual stitching process itself.

thanks.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 08:56 PM:

#25: (If you've never worked in the printing trades: enlargement is an automatic loss of resolution. Imagine taking text printed at 600 d.p.i., and photoenlarging it to twice its original size. What you now have is 300 d.p.i. text.)

It isn't photoenlarging, I realize, but if you have some of the new fangled All-In-One print-copy-scan-fax devices, this may no longer be true. In between the scanner bed and the printer head may be a whole lot of processing power to clean up the image, resample it, run it through some digital signal processor, and enhance the heck out of it. Weird print methods like half toning may not do well going directly from scan to print, but with sufficiently advanced software/hardware in between, it becomes indistinguishable from magic.

#37 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 09:19 PM:

#36:It isn't photoenlarging, I realize, but if you have some of the new fangled All-In-One print-copy-scan-fax devices, this may no longer be true.

It's still a loss of resolution. The image enhancement just disguises the loss. e.g., if they anti-alias the enlarged image, everything becomes blurry rather than grainy. The blurry image usually looks better than the grainy image, but a higher resolution image looks better than either one.

You can't get more information out than you've put in. Image enhancement is essentially making (intelligent) guesses about missing information. If the device guesses well enough, then I'm just being pedantic.

(Unrelated, but one of the things I learned from using TeX is that fonts don't scale linearly. e.g., a 12pt font looks different from a 10pt font magnified up to 12pt.)

#38 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 09:23 PM:

abi-I'm sorry abi-that binding was auctioned at worldcon on Sunday morning-it was displayed on the SFWA table throughout the convention,which was where I handled it-and had much the same reaction to it that Teresa did.

#39 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 09:52 PM:

abi, the Washington Post has a linotype in the covered main entrance to the building.

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Patrick, perhaps I should have said the sameness of the faces they use. Times New Roman is okay, but there are others, and it might be nice if people would look at them once in a while. It's mostly a small-shop thing, I suspect. (Some TrueType fonts should never have left the design room, IMO. Having about thirty thousand TTF files, I can say this with feeling.)

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 10:20 PM:

Abi (28):

"One day, I'll describe the thought experiment I did on how to make an entire book from human body parts. (You can't cross-grain it, though.)"
Oooh. Since the authorities have a small-minded attitude about letting dead gardeners be composted, I wouldn't mind being made into a book. It would be fitting.
"the publisher had taken an old Ace paperback edition of the work, and shot up the pages: that is, taken a photographic image of the old blobby low-resolution printing done on cheap absorbent wood-pulp paper, enlarged it, and offset-printed their edition from that image."
"WHAT? That is no little fault, proceeding on distemper. Someone decided to do that. Other people participated in the effort, with actual time they could have used to kick puppies instead. And then they put it on good paper?

That's bad craftsmanship, chew'd, swallow'd and digested, and I can say no worse."

They did indeed do that. I was momentarily poleaxed myself.

Later, I thought of a partially exculpatory scenario: say you've got one person in the operation, Bonzo, who's responsible for spotting new projects and lining up deals for them. Another person, Ferdy, does production.* Most of their interactions are via phone and e-mail.

Bonzo has assured Ferdy that he has a copy of a previous edition of this new title he's acquired. Ferdy assumes that this means it's a shoot, and pencils it in on the schedule accordingly. Bonzo's late getting the copy of the book to him, but they're still within reasonable range of their deadline so Ferdy isn't too worried.

Several months and several rounds of nagging later, Ferdy's definitely worried. He gives Bonzo a drop-dead deadline for getting him a copy of the book. Bonzo barely makes it. Ferdy opens the package, takes one look at the contents, and gets on the phone to start screaming that this is not a shootable book.

Bonzo, who never looks at typography, is surprised by this development. He asks Ferdy whether they can pay more for the shoot and have it come out at a higher resolution. "No," snaps Ferdy in one of those take-no-prisoners Production voices. "It will have to be reset. This will take weeks." Bonzo pleads that Very Bad Things** will happen if they don't get the book out on time. This is an emergency. Can't they make it a shoot anyway?

Ferdy says yes, they can,*** though he doubts Bonzo will be entirely pleased with the results.

"I can live with that," says Bonzo. "Just get it out."


_____________

*I've been using Ferdy, Bonzo, and Lulu as my metasyntactic variable names for more than a quarter-century. I see no reason to change now.
**I can easily imagine half a dozen Very Bad Things, so I don't feel the need to pick out and describe any single one of them. Just take it on faith that they exist.
***A prudent man knows to fear Production when they suddenly start agreeing with him in the middle of a heated argument.

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 10:34 PM:

This is the first time, as far as I know, that someone has used a quote from me as the title of a piece. Sort of; I'm almost sure I was half-consciously misquoting something else, but I don't know what. And I ought to have said "in the comment threads of Making Light."

Anyway, I like it. Henceforth I shall strive to write as quotably as possible!

Also...abi's bookbinding essays are great stuff. Makes me want to take up the art...an urge I deeply hope will pass. Last time this happened to me I wound up making chocolates and buying a tempering machine and experimenting with flavorings and...gaining a bunch of weight, but the time was the bad part.

#43 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 11:23 PM:

All Knowledge Is Contained In Fandom, is the original, if I remember correctly.

Shortened to AKICIF, I think.

(See this rasff FAQ.)

#44 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Abi, just try doing this with letterpress and metal type!

#45 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Abi, I'm not really a book-geek, but I seem to know just enough that your description and Teresa's made me cringe. That was an outstandingly appropriate job of work!

Teresa, many thanks for your link to Identifont! I am a minor-level fonts-geek, and I suspect this is going to be a time-waster for a while. :-)

Re the photomagnified Ace book: yikes! Couldn't they have paid a starving college student to spend a couple of days re-typing it into a word processor file? Those old Ace editions weren't very large; it wouldn't have been an onerous task.

#46 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 01:13 AM:

Terry Carr invented the "All Knowledge is Contained in Fanzines" meme long before there was such a thing as r.a.s.f.f. I don't remember whether the AKICIF acronym also appeared before the rasff usage.

#47 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 01:18 AM:

While we're on the subject of reprints... can someone explain how does that whole process usually work?

I just recently brought the Daw omnibus reprint of M.A. Foster's Morphodite trilogy, originally published as Daw PBs in the early '80s. While it's great that Daw is bringing Foster's commendably odd SF novels back into print, I was irked by some particularly intrusive typos. I only have the middle volume, but I was able to see that at least one of the more annoying ones was newly introduced. (If I had all three volumes to check against, I wouldn't have needed to buy it, would I?)

I would naively have thought that in a reprint edition, any typos in the original would have been fixed, and there wouldn't be new ones introduced. Or would they have had to OCR it from the published books, or from the galleys, or had to hire somebody to retype it? How does that work, when it's not just "blow this up 200%"?

#48 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 01:50 AM:

TexAnne @33:

You will have to visit Scotland in the next few months; after that, the Netherlands. But if we are ever in the same city at the same time, and we can find a piece of stiff paper or cardboard, some string, two colours of thread, and a needle, I will teach you*. I love guerilla bookbinding.

I learned from the definitive work on the subject, with much swearing**.

-------
* Note the absence of a book from that list of requirements.
** On my part. Greenfield and Hille do not swear in the book.

Note that the book is optional.

#49 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 02:01 AM:

TNH @41:

I wouldn't mind being made into a book. It would be fitting.

Historically, that is an honour most commonly granted convicted murderers* and French aristocrats. Most of the human-skin bindings currently extant are either accounts of eighteenth and early nineteenth century murder trials bound in the skins of the convicted, or date from the French Revolution.

I understand that human leather works a lot like calf. The few human skin items I have seen (all remnants of one William Burke) certainly look like bookcalf in terms of grain and texture.

I can believe your drama of Ferdy, Bonzo and Lulu, because I have seen it in other fields. It is currently making my life hell at work, which is why I relax by writing long screeds about bookbinding**.

-----
* who were insensible of it, even before they were insensible of all.
** with footnotes.

#50 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Xopher @42:
Makes me want to take up the art...an urge I deeply hope will pass. Last time this happened to me I wound up making chocolates and buying a tempering machine and experimenting with flavorings and...gaining a bunch of weight, but the time was the bad part.

A man who can make chocolates has no need of any further skills, being as he is in possession of unlimited quantities of the Universal Currency.

If you find the urge does not pass, email me and I will suggest a few ways to start playing with the art that do not require any equipment. I have a rather a lot of kit about now, but my first bindings were done with very little at all.

#51 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Avram @44:
Abi, just try doing this with letterpress and metal type!

Reading the comment before clicking on the link caused me to choke on my breakfast cereal. I don't know why my mind jumped in the direction it did, but...ow.

That film makes me want to do some stop-motion work in my dad's basement when we're over in California at the end of the month. Preferably on a composing stick over a California job case.

#52 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 05:31 AM:

Teresa@9: I read that with mounting horror...when I came to the mention of "Peignot" I literally had to look away from the screen for a moment.

Some years ago the copy shop where I work had a recurring monthly commission to do a magazine sort of thing printing newspaper and magazine articles. It was for a group that our marketing person was working with, and she did the typesetting for the title page (which doubled as a table of contents, so it was a page with a fair amount of text). And every month she set the entire thing all in Peignot. Ever since I've had a deep aversion to that font.

Teresa@41: When long-time Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald died, one of his works was reprinted in collection form...with homeopathic quantities of his ashes mixed in to the ink. I've never been able to decide whether I think that was cool or creepy. (All accounts from people who knew him agree that he would have loved it, to be sure.)

#53 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 07:37 AM:

Lenny, #46: And of course Terry agreed with the corollary, which is that while all knowledge is contained in fanzines, not all the knowledge contained in fanzines is true.

#54 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 08:55 AM:

#42: Yes, I must report that any idle processing time of the mind appears to have been hijacked last night by thought experiments in building a book. Just prior to going sleep, the beast had (d)evolved into a frankenstein monster with paper signatures sewn with fishing line to a hard cover made out of brushed aluminum and a spine built as a series of hinges. The main question appeared to be what sort of graphic would be acid etched onto the metal cover. Why I got onto the idea of an indestructible book design, I have no idea. Perhaps, it was because I spent the last three hours before bed watching the recent episode of "Rome" followed by a 2 hour thing on the history channel about the Dark Ages.

#55 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 10:02 AM:

As a reviewer, I mainly read advance galleys (or the even more demanding *unbound* galleys where you keep having to flip pages back and forth), and many of the sins Teresa mentions in #9 seem to crop up there. I'm currently reading a galley from a major SF/F publisher (not Tor) where about a third of the pages have patches that almost look whited-out and you can barely see the type. Since I'm enjoying the book, I'm filling them in with a pen -- yeah I know, obsessive-compulsive behavior!

In an unbound galley I recently read but won't get to review (because two of The Guys got there first), Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss, the printed material that seems "wrong" is photographs, some of which smell truly icky. (Toward the end, we find out why.)

#56 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Last time this happened to me I wound up making chocolates and buying a tempering machine and experimenting with flavorings and...gaining a bunch of weight, but the time was the bad part.

For me it always seems to be useless decorative arts that involved sitting hunched over making small repetitive motions with my fingers. Lately it's quilling, but thankfully the entire month of March (it's one of those pattern-a-day calendars) is full of sucky designs so I'm off the hook.

ashes mixed in to the ink. I've never been able to decide whether I think that was cool or creepy.

See also the KISS comic book from the 70s, with the band members' blood mixed into the red ink. Should've been the brown ink, but I'm saying that as a person who winces every time the CSI guys visit an hours-old crime scene with bright red "blood" on the walls.* Plus the amount of blood was so tiny it would have made no difference whatsoever to the color of the final product.

* I realize CSI is not a paragon of science, but damn. Couldn't they have had a moment in one of the early episodes where someone cut his/her finger or something and makes a comment about "I always forget that fresh blood is red?" It would have gone nicely with the science-geek feel.

#57 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Kindly avert your eyes from the many mismatches of tense in my previous posting (#56). I have no idea what came over me.

#58 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 12:45 PM:

abi @16, Thank you. I printed it and Mom really enjoyed it. She's now casting about for her copy of Middleton in hopes she didn't give it away. She told me a story about a Swiss gentleman who used to be the go-to guy for binding out here in Hawai'i; when he passed on he left his tools to the institution she worked for, causing great internal argument among the librarians and the conservationists as to who was best suited to keep them well. She may be making phone calls today to find out what's happened to them since she retired from the place 20 years ago.

#59 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 01:56 PM:

abi, 50: If you find the urge does not pass, email me and I will suggest a few ways to start playing with the art that do not require any equipment.

Er, don't suppose you'd just like to post them here? *big liquid puppy eyes*

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Greg @54:
I must report that any idle processing time of the mind appears to have been hijacked last night by thought experiments in building a book.

Welcome to my world.

Just prior to going sleep, the beast had (d)evolved into a frankenstein monster...

Frankenstein is one of the best books to bind, by the way, because the custom is to show the structure in the binding. I've done one, and have another waiting to start (and already sold, whenever I bind it).

...with paper signatures sewn with fishing line to a hard cover made out of brushed aluminum and a spine built as a series of hinges.

Not fishing line. It'll tear the paper - it's too strong. And it's a stinker to knot, as I found out when I was developing a technique to create headbands out of rocaille beads.

Why I got onto the idea of an indestructible book design, I have no idea.

It's the Giant's Drink of book design. Some binders go that way, looking to 400 year lifespans and beyond.

#61 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 03:07 PM:

Belatedly, Faren @4:
Few fine bindings are that delicate. The Dream Hunters happens to have some structural compromises in it, but most hand bindings will outlast commercial bindings by many years.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 03:22 PM:

Linkmeister @58
Middleton as in A History of English Craft Bookbinding? That's a great in-depth book.

He's a good speaker and a good teacher. At the last Society of Bookbinders conference, he did a talk on his professional life as a binder, culminating in a virtual tour of his bindery.

Knitters, you think you know stash, but until you've seen Sir Bernard Middleton's hoard, you haven't seen anything. Floor to ceiling shelves piled with goat, calf and exotica, edges spilling out with every colour imaginable. Cases on cases of papers, plain, marbled and printed. Boxes of endpapers salvaged from old books, ready for matching with rebinds. Thread and ribbons, tapes and cords. Oddments of every sort.

And the equipment...that is wealth. The old stuff is so often the good stuff.

#63 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Dan @59:
Enough with the puppy eyes! The wind will change and they'll stay that way.

I'm rather insanely busy right now. Let me collect a few links over the next wee while - there are some good tutorials on the web, and some excellent books on binding styles you can do with minimal equipment.

#65 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Greg London @ 36:
with sufficiently advanced software/hardware in between, it becomes indistinguishable from magic.

My experience trying to do this recently with low-res graphics is that as of today magic is indistinguishable from dreck.

Having a need to diagram the mapping of Midi codes to the pistons and drawknobs of a church organ, and it being a one-shot engineering diagram that perhaps 3 people will ever see, I grabbed a graphic of the buttons and knobs from a marketing document and tried to import to one of the graphics programs I have, in the hope of cleaning it up and putting labels on it. The only way I could get at the content was to take a screenshot (damn Microsoft Word, and all of its descendants!). Hoping to fix it up, I imported to a couple of different apps that trace bitmaps to make vector art. Made it worse by at least an order of magnitude. The upshot is that nothing I did could make the artwork look better than when it started; almost everything made it worse.*

If this were a production document issue, I'd just redraw all the diagrams in a reasonable program like Expression or one of the SVG programs, trying to clean things up is usually a non-starter.

* And don't even mention Photoshop in this context.

#66 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 04:36 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @ 34
All the best and most creative designers I know use computers, and they show no perceptible inclination to return to waxers, X-Acto knives, and Zip-a-tone.
Auugh! You had to remind me about Zip-a-tone! You can't imagine how happy I was when I first used MacDraw and found out that &*(^^! stuff was obsolete. And I'm not even a professional designer.

#67 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 04:41 PM:

abi @51:
That film makes me want to do some stop-motion work in my dad's basement when we're over in California at the end of the month. Preferably on a composing stick over a California job case.

Abi, if you do this, pretty please, put it online where we can see it. I love stop-motion. I've just been going through the DVDs of Norman McLaren s work that the Canadian Film Board put out, and the stuff is really great. I keep thinking that there's less and less of that sort of thing like pixilation, etc. being done these days. In fact, the most recent couple of stop-motions films I can think of are "Frank Film" and "The Wizard of Speed and Time", both of which were made more than 20 years ago.

#68 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Yay, abi!

(That is all.)

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Bruce @ 67... Did you ever see another National Fim Board short, Crac, by Frederic Bach? As far as I can tell, each frame was a drawing done in crayon.

#70 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Bruce @ 65

I had to do something vaguely similar. I used Hypersnap for the screen captures, and then lots of time in Paint Shop Pro to make them look good and do the additional text and graphics to make them useful. Where I work, the older drawings are scanned, noise and all; some are more useful than others.

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Serge at #69

No, I've never seen it. Thanks, I'll look it up. That was one of McLaren's media too, he drew on film with pen and ink, scratched off the emulsion from black exposed film, even drew his own soundtrack.

#72 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 05:41 PM:

Serge,

Re: Crac
I found several links to film courses talking about the film, but the NFB site doesn't have any mention of it. Do you have a source for the film itself?

#73 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 05:42 PM:

#60 Not fishing line. It'll tear the paper - it's too strong.

Well, I was thinking, if, before folding the 16 pages in half to form a signature, I dropped in a thin strand of piano wire, that would distribute the point force of the fishing line across the entire fold of paper. Then sew the fishing line just inside the piano wire. And maybe make the pages out of Tyvek.

Good grief. I'm at it again. Gak!

Oh, and by the way, that frankenstein cover does a good job of creeping me out.

#74 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 05:47 PM:

#37: Some devices do actually guess pretty well.

#65: well, I was specifically talking about an all in one device, where you know the attributes of the scanner head and the printer head (or laser modulation, as the case may be).

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 05:52 PM:

Bruce @ 72... Oops. Bach's animation was produced for the CBC, not the National Film Board.

#76 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Bruce @ 67: As to stop-motion feature movies, there's Tim Burton's animation, e.g. Nightmare Before Christmas. If you count claymation, there's also Aardman Studios (though they just tanked) and the director who did the "Frog and Toad" children's shorts.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Ah, but I had my moment of feeling all happy and stuff...I think I even flushed a bit.

I knew it couldn't last. As I said, I had a vague sense of quoting I-knew-not-what.

Someday, though. Someday an entirely original line of mine will be used as the title of a great novel by someone else. Long after I'm dead, of course, but that's the way the telomere crumbles.

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Greg 73: With Kevlar endpapers.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 06:13 PM:

Xopher... the way the telomere crumbles

Now there is a title for a great novel.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 06:36 PM:

*claps hands in childish glee*

Now all we need is someone to write it /a/n/d/ /s/p/l/i/t/ /t/h/e/.

#81 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Bruce @67 There's also The Corpse Bride, which is also a Tim Burton film (like Nightmare Before Christmas).

#82 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Greg @54: Someone here will be able to fill in the blank for me. I was told of a bookclub (that's the blank) where for each edition some designer was allowed to pick a favorite book and design it as desired; the result then offered for sale. Someone did Farenheit 451 with an aluminum cover.

#83 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Bruce Cohen @65: Having a need to diagram the mapping of Midi codes to the pistons and drawknobs of a church organ, and it being a one-shot engineering diagram that perhaps 3 people will ever see, I grabbed a graphic of the buttons and knobs from a marketing document and tried to import to one of the graphics programs I have, in the hope of cleaning it up and putting labels on it. [..] Hoping to fix it up, I imported to a couple of different apps that trace bitmaps to make vector art. Made it worse by at least an order of magnitude.

I've never had much luck with the 'bitmap → vector art' programs, unless you wanted the end result to look like a woodcut. When I've had to do this sort of thing, I've imported the bitmap into Corel Draw, and used the bitmap as a template to recreate the art.

#84 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 09:15 PM:

abi, #60, light-weight GSP lines, like 10lb test Fireline, knots quite well. All by itself sometimes. Fireline comes in colors, too, but the gray will come off on your hands at first.

#85 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 09:46 PM:

#82: cool! At least if I'm crazy, I have company.

#86 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Abi, I too, feel the need to learn to bind a book now.

Unfortunately, I have made too many commitments to sew and embroider for other people to pick up another hobby, and when I do have the time, I have a loom the size of a double bed just waiting for me to warp on my first towel.

Thank you so much for the essays, and for the links and information about bookbinding. If ever I do learn, I'll know where to go to start.

And you work looks beautiful.

#87 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 11:32 PM:

A little google-searching would have found the answer for me. Farenheit 451 with aluminum binding.

#88 ::: Nona ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 01:58 AM:

There's also an excellent stop-motion James and the Giant Peach, though it's bookended by live-action. And Henry Selick's working on a stop-motion Coraline at the moment.

Really, stop-motion animation is no less feasible than hand-drawn for feature-length film. Though considering the rate at which hand-drawn's dying out in the face of CGI, that's not terribly encouraging.

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Now you see why visualising bookbindings is so much fun.

Let me summarise. What we have thus far is a book with either paper or Tyvek pages, a length of piano wire up the fold of each signature, and sewn with, say, 10lb Fireline. Aluminum covers, Kevlar endpapers*.

My advice would be to do it use the sewing "thread" itself to join the signatures together rather than tapes or cords. The Fireline wouldn't go along the folds of the signatures like ordinary sewing thread*, but would just dip in and loop round the piano wire, then join the covers on. We can't use adhesive on the spine**, so it's going to be a fairly loose binding. Therefore, no squares - covers must be flush with the book block.

Next question. What are we going to do with all the jagged little ends of piano wire sticking out of the head and tail of the spine? My notion would be to use basketweaving techniques - you know, the ones that neaten up the top of wicker wastebaskets by turning the canes back in ornate patterns.

The only real issue I don't think any of you are visualising is the swell. That's the technical term for the difference in thickness between the spine and the fore edge of the book block, caused by all those thicknesses of piano wire. It's going to be hellacious for this book.

Traditional solutions are to round the spine, but that requires adhesive, or to live with it. I think we're in live with it territory.

The problem currently bugging me is that the piano wire will get a lot of tension on it where the fishing line hooks onto it. Is it likely to kink at that point, and eventually either bend or break?

You evil people are causing me to want to try this (well, the structure, anyway, because I have silver-plated wire, strong paper and stout thread). As if I had the time!

-----
* Anyone know the expansion properties of Kevlar under moisture? Or are these going to be floating endpapers, not pasted to the inside cover?

* That fixes the tearing problem, because it's when the thread turns to go out the sewing hole that it tears the paper

** Piano wire is metal, after all, so adhesive leads to moisture. Moisture leads to rusting. Rusting leads to suffering.

#90 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:28 AM:

Thank you, all for reminding me of the Burton films, and all the others done by Henry Selick (yes, those are all his). Problem with getting old is that all those useful facts keep falling out of your head, ending up in little piles all over the floor. Good thing we don't have carpets in the rooms where I try to think.

Thanks also for reminding me about the Ardman films, which I love. I've been recording the "Creature Comforts" series off the TV; they're almost as much fun as the original film. Alas, as much as I like Ardman, especially Nick Park's somewhat twisted imagination, whenever I see clay animation I'm reminded of Will Vinton's ignominious fall from grace. That all happened here in Portland, where I live, so I got to hear just about every dirty little detail.

I still think there's a lot less animation (other than CG, of course) than there should be.

#91 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:40 AM:

Bruce Cohen #90: I still think there's a lot less animation (other than CG, of course) than there should be.

Jaysus, yes. Animation is one of those things I just know I would love if I knew how to get access to any.

#92 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 05:04 AM:

#87 --

Farenheit: (Ger.) the state or condition of being Faren. Measured on a scale of 0 to 348. Anyone who actually is Faren has a Farenheit reading of 348. Everyone else is Farenheit 0.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 07:02 AM:

Bruce @ 90... Ever seen Will Vinton's Mountain Music, from way back when?

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 07:04 AM:

Abi @ 89... You evil people are causing me to want to try this

I prefer thinking of them not as evil but as misguided marxists. I mean, the idea of using wire for bookbinding sounds like something Harpo would come up with.

#95 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 07:09 AM:

ajay @92: Thank you. And I did it twice (in this thread; again in the other thread). FAHR-EN-HEIT, fahr-en-heit, fahrenheit...

#96 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 07:11 AM:

#92 - and obviously your Farenheit reading is measured in Fareinheits (Ger., lit. 'Far-units'), although this is deprecated by the SI.

#97 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 08:23 AM:

The problem currently bugging me is that the piano wire will get a lot of tension on it where the fishing line hooks onto it. Is it likely to kink at that point, and eventually either bend or break?

memory metal. Apparently it's cheap enough that they use it in some instances of women's bras. If it's cheap and common enough for underwear, it ought to be cheap enough for a book.

Then, if it kinks, it should be possible to straighten it out by application of the proper temperature.

My advice would be to do it use the sewing "thread" itself to join the signatures together rather than tapes or cords.

Hm. Apparently I haven't quite figured out proper book binding yet, because that was how I imagined it would be done in normal circumstances. I'm missing a component in my mental construction somewhere.

Perhaps there's a "how to make a bound book in a weekend" write up, (i.e. a very basic book for beginners) so that i can give it a whirl without taking up weeks/months of my time.

#98 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Serge @ 93: Sure have seen Mountain Music. I've seen almost everything he's done, and lot of the stuff done by the animators at the old Vinton Studios. Martin the Cobbler, for instance; if you haven't seen it, track it down; it's beautiful.

#99 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:05 AM:

Carrie S. @ 56:
but I'm saying that as a person who winces every time the CSI guys visit an hours-old crime scene with bright red "blood" on the walls.

That comment's been niggling at my hind-brain for a day or so, and the resultant insight, however anticlimactic it might be, finally came out. Most people see blood only when a) they get a cut, which immediately gets treated, or b) when they buy meat at the market. The meat they buy is almost always doused with red coloring to make it look "fresher", and it stays that color for a day or two, so they assume that the blood of a convenient plot device will be the same color for the same amount of time. So the FX techs at CSI give them the color they expect, rather than have to explain. Probably a good idea; when they do explain something, the "explanation" often consists of a string of buzz-words followed by "so, of course, ...".

#100 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:07 AM:

To avoid rust and corrosion, rather than piano wire, use Tiger Tail; it's a very thin twisted cable that's been plastic-coated, used in jewelry beading, especially with heavy stones and beads.

#101 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:10 AM:

Serge @ 94:

I can just see Harpo pulling an arrow out of some hyper-dimensional pocket that contains the entire studio props warehouse, nocking it to the bass string on the harp (more pull than any of the other strings) and letting fly at, likely, Groucho.

#102 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:22 AM:

So the FX techs at CSI give them the color they expect, rather than have to explain.

Yeah, I get that; I just think the "explaining" could have consisted of a throw-away line (Sarah/Nick/Catherine gets a paper cut, sucks on it while commenting "I always forget fresh blood is red") in one of the first few episodes, which would then serve to make people who got it feel clever every time someone new to the show asked what that brown stuff was. And since a large portion of CSI's appeal consists of making the audience feel clever...

Probably a good idea; when they do explain something, the "explanation" often consists of a string of buzz-words followed by "so, of course, ...".

True. :)


#103 ::: Bruce SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:28 AM:

ethan @ 91:

If by "access" you mean access to animated films, you'd be amazed at how much is available (and, unfortunately, how many classics only exist as film prints in schools and museums). For instance, I found the McLaren DVD set at Netflix, along with a disk of Faith Hubley's stuff, and on of Halas & Batchelor. Years ago, and almost by accident, I found a specialty mail-order video store in Arizona that had VHS tapes of "The Adventures of Prince Achmed", an hour-long sillouhette animation made in Germany in the 1920's. Just google for titles or artists, and do it every so often, since new titles sometimes become available. Let me know if you find any of Alexieff & Parker's work, or Oscar Fischinger, for that matter; their work seems to be reduced to a few prints in the hands of collectors.

If you mean access to tools for making animation, well, you're sitting in front of one of them. Computers make any kind of animation easier, though few people seem to understand their uses other than in 3D-modelling based animation. There are several tools for doing 2D work similar to cel animation, and all kinds of ways to do less traditional kinds.

For instance, I've been noodling around in my (copious :-} spare time with doing shadow-puppet style things using Maya, a full-up 3D package. It works, I just don't yet have a computer powerful enough not to exhaust my patience rendering it.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:31 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 101... In A Day at the Races (*), Harpo chiseled the inner harp out of a piano. Meanwhile, I see that Greg recently dragged bra wires into a discussion of bookbinding techniques. How marxist.

(*) I think it was that one, or whichever of their movies involved helping two young lovers.

#105 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Bruce #103: I did indeed mean access to viewing. I hardly have the patience and dedication, let alone the aptitude or ambition, to animate anything myself.

Although I guess access wasn't exactly the right word. I tend to have trouble entering anything, finding a door into any area, but then when I do, I quickly become deeply obsessed. So really what I meant was lazy-person's-access to animation, or, "Something other than Disney and Pixar in the theaters," somewhere to start from.

But now that you've listed some names to look for I bet I'll be off and running soon.

(Overabundance of commas and general nonsensicality resulting from insomnia)

#106 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:38 AM:

ajay @#92: Farenheit: (Ger.) the state or condition of being Faren. I resemble that remark! (as some malaprop once said). And believe me, you wouldn't like it.... (I refuse to type smily faces, but one might be appropriate here.)

abi @ #61: I was thinking more of the effect that nasty human fingerprints might have on such glorious materials. As soon fondle a Monet!

#107 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 10:09 AM:

The Spelling reference may need an addition.

Kevlar: All I could find in five minutes was Like all good things, Kevlar also has a few disadvantages. The fibers themselves absorb moisture, so Kevlar composites are more sensitive to the environment than glass or graphite composites.

So it does have SOME moisture absorbency, but I don't know how it compares to paper and I can't find a handy number.

#108 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Hmmm...if we are trying to design an Indestructible Book, I would consider staying away from polymers entirely. Most polymers are susceptible to attack from oxygen and from UV light (that's why most polymers you've seen that have been around for a few years are yellowed and/or brittle). Having an indestructible book that you have to keep in a lightproof, airtight box seems to defeat the purpose. Also, if we're going to go really hardcore, I would go with titanium covers (rather than aluminum); far more resistant to corrosion.

And thanks, Abi, for the info on bookbinding. I had my graduate theses bound by a woman whose love was clearly art bindings but did theses to pay the bills, and I took down one of them to go over your terms of art.

Also, if you live in a large American city and have a local Paper Source, they often have beginner bookbinding workshops.

#109 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Faren @106
The Dream Hunters binding, being white, might be prone to finger marking or yellowing over time.

But for most fine bindings, especially leather ones, the best way to preserve them is to read them. The oil from your skin conditions the leather and you get the damaging dust off.

A book you can't read may be art, but risks being clutter.

#110 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:23 PM:

debcha @108
Many professional binders pay the bills with thesis binding. It's also a piece of advertising: the one time many people come in contact with that kind of binding.

if you live in a large American city and have a local Paper Source, they often have beginner bookbinding workshops.

They do indeed. I was in the Paper Source in Cambridge, MA one time on holiday, and fell into conversation with one of the clerks. Turns out he was an amateur binder. I brought out my current blank book of the time to show him, and he noticed the maker's mark on it (all my bindings have a tooled rooster logo). I explained that it was my bindery mark, for the evilrooster bindery.

He took a step back and said, "You're evilrooster?" He'd been on my binding site the night before.

Anyway, he taught binding at that branch.

#111 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:35 PM:

And I promise I will post some bookbinding links here this weekend. Things are just a bit busy right now.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 02:43 PM:

abi @ 110... After that clerk discovered your Secret Identity, did something unfortunate happen to him?

#113 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:03 PM:

#112: Bound to have.

#114 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:04 PM:

ALTERNATE PUN
You could say her covers were blown.

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:09 PM:

ajay... Argh!

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Hanging by a thread.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Book 'im, Dano!

#118 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:21 PM:

I've only worked with very loosely-woven Kevlar, but as far as that goes I can attest that it absorbs oil (citronella oil, anyway) very nicely, and stands up perfectly well to having said oil burned while the tight stacks of Kevlar wick are spun in patterns around my head.

My wicks were too large, because I underestimated the absorbency of the Kevlar; they didn't burn out before my arms were tired. And I'm no slouch on the arm strength thing.

None of this is relevant to the topic under discussion, except that it's possible that old Kevlar (being oil-absorbent) would stand up to moisture better than new: hand oils. But Kevlar probably isn't the right material for the endpapers anyway. If they're not going to be glued on, no point in making them a different material than the interior pages, and glue is apparently a bad idea in this case.

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Xopher @ 118... My wicks were too large

(Must... NOT... make... bad joke...)

#120 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Serge 119: and they didn't burn out before my arms were tired. In case you needed more temptation.

#121 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 04:43 PM:

(La-di-da, Xopher... I'm not listening...)

#122 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 05:33 PM:

abi @110: That would be my local Paper Source in Porter Square, Cambridge, and I'm going to consider your anecdote a strong recommendation for the staff and workshops there, although I think I might have to forbear. While I've made several books and enjoyed the process and the results, I don't know if I really need to pick it up in earnest. I started knitting recently and casting metal even more recently, so I think I am at my limit for how much time and money I can devote to learning how to make fun things in fun ways.

#123 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 05:37 PM:

JC said (#37):
(Unrelated, but one of the things I learned from using TeX is that fonts don't scale linearly. e.g., a 12pt font looks different from a 10pt font magnified up to 12pt.)

Well, that's sort of an ideal case. Almost all commercial fonts these days do scale linearly, just because that's simpler. Donald Knuth put a lot of effort into learning as much about typography as possible, and then putting it into practice. So the Computer Modern typeface he designed for TeX does indeed come in different versions for different sizes (that is, it comes in different "optical sizes"). But that's rather rare.

Adobe produced several "Multiple Master" fonts that included optical size as a design axis (the best of both worlds, in a sense: you could create a 10.5pt font that had optical size in between 10pt and 11pt). Unfortunately, the nifty Multiple Master technology has been abandoned, and Adobe no longer sells those fonts in that form.

#124 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 05:45 PM:

abi:

If you can solve the problems with the Kevlar book, there's a legislator in Ohlahoma who'd like to speak with you:

http://radar.planetizen.com/node/25768

#125 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Xopher @118:
and glue is apparently a bad idea in this case

No, Xopher, we're not casing this one in. That's more adhesive, which is moisture, which is bad.

Some puns require a bookbinder.

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen, #99, if your grocery is putting red food coloring in meat, find another grocery. The red is because it's wrapped tight enough to be oxygen-starved. When it gets oxygen, it turns brown.

#127 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 08:29 PM:

Marilee @ #126 & Bruce @ #99 -

Sometimes the red is from Carbon Monoxide treatment.

#128 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:25 PM:

ethan,

Animation is one of those things I just know I would love if I knew how to get access to any.

see if there's an art school near you, with a library. my old school's library is full of nfb stuff, though that might be because it's canadian, & has a big animation department.

another animator name i recommend is caroline leaf. i don't know if she was the first to do sand-on-lighbox animation, but she did it thrillingly (sand-on-lightbox animation was recently featured in a commercial i saw, which delighted me). she also did very-glyceriney-paint-on-cells animation, so she could just keep pushing colours around instead of painting multitudes of cells.

#129 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 02:34 AM:

miriam beetle #128: Duh, RISD! I might try looking into that. Or the Art Institute of Boston. Thanks for the notion.

Caroline Leaf sounds fun.

#130 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 10:26 AM:

abi @109: Interesting! I had no idea such books *like* to be handled. (And now I'll give way to the wicked punsters.)

#131 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 12:50 PM:

#127: Deception has become an industrial process.

#132 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Greg #131: Look at the cosmetics industry. It was ever so.

#133 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 03:53 PM:

ObSF: I haven't seen Vinton's Magic Mountain, but I have a VHS copy of his ambitious and eccentric 1985 feature The Adventures of Mark Twain.

In which Huck, Tom, and Becky encounter Mr. Twain himself aboard an airship he is flying to Halley's Comet.

Cool trivia gleaned from IMDB:

When they are ejecting ballast from the airship to catch the comet, one of the items thrown overboard is a Paige typesetter, of which Mark Twain comments, "Worst damn investment I ever made." In reality, Mark Twain did invest - and lost - a lot of money on an automatic typesetter.

#134 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Bill Higgins... Goodness. I saw Vinton's Adventures of Mark Twain years ago on some movie channel and it was indeed quite good. It's available on DVD, by the way.

http://www.deepdiscount.com/viewproduct.htm?productId=5754600

#135 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 05:52 PM:

I've enjoyed this thread - don't get me wrong - but the title has been niggling at me all week.

Finally figured out why.

All knowledge is contained. Each box enclosed
By bone, or paper, or HTML
Constrains the facts inside it all too well,
And separates things better juxtaposed.
For knowledge is inert until it's mixed,
Until the facts spill out, and we compare
Our unrelated notions, stop and stare,
Assumptions overturned, at truth unfixed.
The way papyrus rolled and vellum curled,
The spread of trade as social classes changed:
These unrelated facts, when well arranged,
Can show us not just books, but all the world.
And thus the knowledge that appeals to me
Is uncontained, and unconstrained, and free.

#136 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen@65: Your best bet from getting anything usable out of the thrice-cursed Microsoft Word is probably to try PrimoPDF or anything similar that'll let you print a file as a PDF, then use a graphics program to rasterize that back into a bitmap image. At this point I would mention Photoshop if you hadn't warned not to, but I think The GIMP, which is freeware, has a plugin to convert PDFs.

#137 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 06:09 PM:

James E # 136

StarOffice can read Word files and save in PDF. It's handy.

#138 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 06:14 PM:

abi @ 135... I bow down to you.

And, if I may quote Clifford Stohl, author of Cuckoo's Egg and Silicon Snake Oil... "Data is not information, anymore than concrete is a building" (or words to that effect).

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Abi #135: Magnificent!

#140 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 08:52 PM:

abi @ #135: Exquisite! More magnificent than your bindings themselves!

#141 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2007, 11:52 PM:

Abi (135), I just read that aloud to Patrick. He said what especially pleased him about your poem was that he picked that title for his post because it's about binding. "It's nice when people get things," he concluded.

#142 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 12:26 AM:

#103 - BruceSpeakertoManagers

Yes, Yes! The Adventures of Prince Achmed! It's the earliest surviving full length animation film. It's shadow animation, which as near as I can tell, she invented basing it on Asian puppet theater.

Lotte Reiniger made a bunch of animated films of fairytales. I watched them on our local PBS station in Yakima when I was about 6 or 7 and I loved them, just loved them. Many years later, my husband later found out that Scarecrow video had some and brought them home for me to watch.

For some reason I think that the source for both the fairytales and Achmed is the Washington State University Library in Pullman.

P.S. Lotte Reiniger is not Leni Riefenstahl. I've had people get this confused before.

#143 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 02:43 AM:

All knowledge is contained. We cannot know
The truth, the whole and nothing but: the all
Of anything. Old Plato laughs; the fall
Of Pilate's gavel still convicts us. So
Why accept a further proviso:
That knowledge must be chained inside a wall,
As books were once themselves, in monkish stall,
Behind a cover, chain-stitched, bound. Why sew?

We never know the truth; but books we know.
Caressing them, our hands can yet recall
A truth that is their own. To feel the slow
Soft weight of them, to breathe the scent, hear fall
Of leaves, is to remember: this is all
We know, and all we ever need to know.

#144 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 06:02 AM:

All knowledge is contained, it's held within
By paragraphs and pages, signatures
Each sewn into the whole, the book block, then
Boards glued to marbled endpapers.
From out the spine a coloured headband peeps,
Between the hollow back and book block's end,
Full cloth enwraps the boards and inside keeps
What's known imprisoned, in its binding penned.
Open the cover, hinge the flyleaf round:
All knowledge loosed; Prometheus unbound.

#145 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 06:55 AM:

I suppose this was the inevitable outcome of this thread. I was inspired by Dave's contribution, and just found Niall's as I go to post.

All knowledge is contained, but not in words.
The sparrows cannot tell the mice below
The art and joy of flight. The things they know
Just fit inside the hollow bones of birds.
And so it is with books, although I try
To case in words the things that only hands
Can truly hold. The body understands:
I love to bind as sparrows love to fly.
The feel of book blocks in the nipping press,
The fragrances leather, glue and glaire,
The paring of a hide, the ways that papers tear -
The body knows things language can't express.
My books contain so many things I know -
Some things they say, and some they simply show.

(And thank you for the mention in the Particles*, Teresa. I hope it brings more poets in!)

-----
* I sometimes think Patrick should rename his Sidelights as Waves.

#146 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 07:16 AM:

abi at 145: I sometimes think Patrick should rename his Sidelights as Waves

But then you'd have the problem of Patrick and Teresa's links constantly shifting between the two or being in both at once. Just too much confusion all around...

#147 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 07:24 AM:

All knowledge is contained in a small space
between two boards or else between two ears;
pages foxed with time, hairs grey with years.
A double-folded letter serves to mark the place
where we stopped reading, where the simple grace
of honest laughter served to end the tears
drawn by the saddest tale, where all our fears
were instantly dispelled by one embrace.
The story's swiftly told, it's one we know
and have for years retold within our hearts,
but what is heard rings different on each ear.
The book will close, our times will have to go,
each of us knows that we have played our parts,
the last page will be stained by a single tear.

#148 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 08:18 AM:

The Adventures of Prince Achmed is available through Netflix.

If you are a subscriber, add this to your queue. It is astonishing.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 08:50 AM:

It'll be a good day
When comes the birthday.
I subtly pleaded,
My wife has agreed.
The Constitution,
That great invention,
I'll get a copy
Bound by our abi.

#150 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 09:02 AM:

fidelio #148: Done. Although it'll probably be a while before I actually see it, since it's got 499 other movies to compete with...

#151 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 09:09 AM:

The knowledge of binding,
Of glue and flypaper
Is not in the monks
It's in the abi

#152 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 09:14 AM:

The latest post on Anna Tambour's blog "Medlar Comfits" (http://medlarcomfits.blogspot.com/) has links to abi's history of bookbinding and the site showing some of her work, and Anna also praises "Making Light" as absolutely the best site on the web for discussions. Hear! Hear!

If you haven't checked it out, "Medlar Comfits" is a wonderful miscellany of photographs (fine close-ups of strange Aussie critters -- no cliched marsupials), musings, and intriguing bits of fiction. Sorry about the lack of a direct link -- the "href" thing wasn't working for me today! But you can click on it directly via Locus Links, Blogs.


#153 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 05:44 PM:

abi #145:
That was beautiful, thank you. It got me to thinking of all the other meanings of "binding". There's the magical binding of a summoned entity, the S&M binding of the submissive by the dominant, etc., etc., but the one that poem brings to mind is the binding of word to referent. And, as you say so eloquently, no binding can make the word and its referent the same thing; some things we can't speak of, but only sense.

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Bruce @153:
Go on...make it a sonnet.

You have the outline already - two vivid possible images for the octave (4 lines each), then the final, chosen meaning for the sestet. You even have the right mood for a closing couplet.

I dare you to.

#155 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Abi #154: Not on that subject (quite), nor a sonnet, nor am I Bruce, but...

all knowledge is contained in matching pain
to pleasure removing for a while the old desire
while each and every one walks in the rain

the moment comes when we have lost all strain
we're burned or cleansed in the returning fire
all knowledge is contained in matching pain

what seems a loss becomes a disguised gain
what seems no music is played upon the lyre
while each and every one walks in the rain

i've crossed dark seas set foot on land again
in this new place there's neither serf nor squire
all knowledge is contained in matching pain

the meaning of my words is clear and plain
each who denies it shall be proved a liar
while each and every one walks in the rain

not to speak out would go against the grain
the better songs will never reach the choir
all knowledge is contained in matching pain
while each and every one walks in the rain

#156 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Beautiful, Fragano. Thank you.

#157 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Lizzy L #156: Thank you!

#158 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Fragano: another demonstration that the villanelle's charm is its slyly changing emphasis, like the English method of change-ringing bells.

And beautifully done. Bravo.

#159 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Fragano @155:
Nice one.

I would ask, though - the last two poems you've posted are a bit dark. Is everything OK?

#160 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:04 PM:

abi @ 154

The force that mages use to fetter spirits,
to hold them to the Earth while warding harm,
is binding within geometric limits.
Shape failure: mage's work will fall to charm.

When thrall submits to bondage of the body,
the master's discipline in ties of trust:
that binding forged from leather straps or bracelets,
may fail and leave the players out of lust.

A word connects the thing for which it's symbol.
The denotation, link that binds the speech
to object, cannot be but changeful,
thus meaning fails to comprehend or teach.

A binding force may sometimes truth entail,
yet ties that bind are often known to fail.


As this wasn't a "double dog" dare, I didn't feel obligated to stick with the Petrarchan form you suggested; Elizabethan fit the theme better.

#161 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Bruce @160:
I never double dog dare on poetry. Your Muse is not my Muse (unless Serge isn't telling me something), nor is your voice my voice. That's why I love poetry.

And, speaking of such, I love your sonnet.

#162 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:36 PM:

By the way, did anyone notice that comment 28 on this thread completes a circle from the first comment in the originating thread?

I didn't till now, and I wrote comment 28.

Must quit job before entire brain disappears for good*.

-----
* It's not the disappearing brain that I mind. It's the fact that nobody notices.

#163 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:42 PM:

abi @ 161... Your Muse is not my Muse (unless Serge isn't telling me something)

Nope, abi. I signed an exclusivity contract with you, remember? The price? As Jon Stewart is fond of saying...

"...must... eat... braaaaaain..."

#164 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 01:49 PM:

"All knowledge is contained within these walls,"
the stentor voice sounds out this dead decree
to the ticking clock, the dim-lit halls,
the head-bowed students, waiting to be free.

One looks up, or two, or three,
not content to live by this constraint;
a silent glare meets their silent plea,
and, uneasy, they subside without complaint.

How can they learn with this restraint?
Knowledge is not a thing sent from above.
Some teachers try the patience of a saint;
Minds grow best when given room to move.

I do not spare this "school" another look,
but instead walk on, communing with my book.

#165 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:02 PM:

I have a question about binding, abi. How do you get the text onto the paper before you turn it into signatures? Do you have a special printer, or is it all calligraphy, or what? How do you keep track of what has to go where when you're binding in signatures?

#166 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Abi #159: Everything's okay. I'm just normally melancholy, tending to depressive on my really bad days.

#167 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Margaret Organ-Kean:

For some reason I think that the source for both the fairytales and Achmed is the Washington State University Library in Pullman.

You've misremembered something I said a long time ago. Seattle Public Library had almost all of her stuff in 16mm and when they closed their 16mm library they sent it all to the WSU library in Pullman.

Achmed prints are usually poor quality because she skipped out of Germany so to avoid the internment camps. The negatives are considered destroyed--I've never been able to sort out if it was Nazis purifying the UFA vaults or if the storage facility was bombed--so reproductions are off the 1920's prints. Talk about a candidate for computer scanning and restoration...

#168 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:43 PM:

#176 Bruce, a restoration has been done, using a colored nitrate positive from the National Film and Television Archive of the British Film Institute.
Wikipedia has a few details.

A DVD of the restored version is rentable through Netflix.

#169 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Again with the time machine.

#170 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Again with the time machine.

#171 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 02:59 PM:

Xopher @165:
How do you get the text onto the paper before you turn it into signatures?

Three methods:
1. I bind a lot of blank books. (I actually specialise in - among other things - stationery bindings, which are specifically designed for writing in after binding.)
2. I rebind existing signature-sewn books. Thus the pique that started this all off: it's almost impossible to do a satisfactory rebind of a perfect binding.
3. I print off A4 sheets and fold them in half. Unless I'm being evil*, I use short-grain paper, meaning that the paper grain runs sideways, so that the bound book is not cross-grained.

To lay out for printing (option 3), I have tended to go page by page in Word, shuffling the pages to the right order. This involves some deep evil, like hard page breaks. To remember the order, I tend to make up a 16-page booklet, write the page numbers on it, then disarticulate it to figure out which page goes where.

Many office printers have booklet functionality, which can even specify how many pages per signature you want. My wee home printer, however, does not.

I note, having just installed it, that OpenOffice's Write program does have some booklet formatting possible, but I don't know how much.

This is why I rarely do anything that is not a rebind, or blank.

(Suggestions for a better way enthusiastically received...)

-----
* not since Atlanta Nights

#172 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:09 PM:

Xopher @170:

And then a step to the right.

#173 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:17 PM:

fidelio #168:

Thanks for posting that. The copy of "Prince Achmed" I have is a VHS tape in B&W, and no restoration was done on the print as far as I can see. Large parts of it were bubbled or outright burnt. I'm going to Netflix right now.

#174 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:32 PM:

I've used the model-booklet method myself, but only for photocopying...which plainly isn't what you want (though if you're printing with a laser printer it's the same technology). Next time I'm in a stationery store I'll have to see if "short-grain" is on any labels anywhere.

Just curious. NOT taking up bookbinding.

Not. Not.

#175 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:35 PM:

#173--Bruce, if the bits of it I have seen on Classic Arts Showcase are anything to go by, it's a beautiful job. It's on my queue already, but since I have a lot on there, it'll be a while before I get to it.

#176 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Xopher @174

You're unlikely to see "short grain" on labels anywhere. The best thing to do is to find long grain paper about twice as big as you need it and get it cut down. Copy shops will do it for you.

Very good tutorial from my local bookbinding tannery* on how to determine paper grain is here:
About Paper Grain

-----
* Yes, I am that lucky.

#177 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 03:57 PM:

While I'm linking, here are the bookbinding links I promised.

It's sometimes useful to start with single section, or pamphlet binding. This is also a good way to do chapbooks, though if you haven't got short grain paper, you can't do the gluing sections.
Single Section Binding No pictures, sadly

A few tutorials for a hardback book, cased in, with a glued but not rounded spine:
Dave's Book Tutorial, with good diagrams
Binding Books, with good photographs
Bookmaking, if brevity is the soul of your wit

And, if you get into rounding and backing,
Three Books, by some random person who hangs out on SF websites*

-----
* The rest of that site includes some ways to make equipment on the very cheap, reviews of various bookbinding books, and a confessional section on how bindings can go horribly wrong**.

** The gallery section, with the self-flagellating binding notes, is the most popular part of the site. People find it reassuring.

#178 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Some copying paper is, or was, marked to show which side should be up when it goes through the machine, because of the grain/curl stuff. I think it mostly matters on the larger sizes; we had a machine that could do 17x22 (but only one at a time).

#179 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:08 PM:

abi @ 177... The gallery section, with the self-flagellating binding notes

The seedy world of bookbinding...

#180 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:36 PM:

fidelio #175
I just bumped it to the top of my list, so I don't think we'll be butting heads for it. I'm trying to clear the list out so I switch over to a cheaper service with fewer DVDs out at at time. We just got a satellite link and a DVR, and have been recording like mad. Now that we've filled about 200 Gig of disk with video, we've actually got to watch it before we can record anything else, so there's not much time for Netflix.

#181 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:39 PM:

abi @ 177:
I told you there was a connection between bookbinding and S&M!

#182 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Bruce @181
I told you there was a connection between bookbinding and S&M!

You have no idea how dodgy I can make it sound when I talk about the amount of leather I own, the places I buy it, and how very good I am at wrapping it around things.

It gets...edgier* when I start talking about my knives, and my skills with hot metal tools.

-----
* Yes, the pun was intended.

#183 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Somewhere in the course of this thread I remembered seeing some rather handsomely-bound books at an exhibit a few years ago, but I couldn't for the life of me remember the name of the artist, of any of the books, or even what year it was. Today I finally got a chance to pester the Google search engine for awhile, and found it. Take a look at his site, there's some tasty stuff there.

Timothy C. Ely

#184 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 05:54 PM:

fidelio:

Thanks for the heads-up! If you enjoy this style of animation, keep an eye out for Princes et Princesses which came out several years ago. Last I checked the only English-language subtitled or dubbed version was one pressed in Korea: the American distributor of the feature was so skilled in publicity that they couldn't have given away free gold coins, which meant the sales figures were weak enough that nobody wanted to market the DVD here...

#185 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 06:01 PM:

The gallery section, with the self-flagellating binding notes, is the most popular part of the site. People find it reassuring.


And these would be Catholics who turn out to watch the Penitentes .

#186 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 07:25 PM:

Now that Bruce Cohen's taken up the challenge, I can post this in good conscience, which the brain ferrets brought me after Abi threw down the glove:

All knowledge is contained – bound fast inside
The book block's magic square, hermetic, neat;
With seals and sigils running volume-wide
That multiply, refigure, and repeat.
And bound it stays, and silent; till commands
To yield its treasures, open and give way
To biddings ministered by eyes and hands,
Compel it come forth docile, and obey.
Still, bindings are imperfect. None are known
Adhering Words to that which they explain –
No signature so intricately sewn
To fix the map's flawed image on terrain.
Some things cannot be written, only sensed;
By touch alone indexed, cross-referenced.

#187 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2007, 07:44 PM:

If I could do calligraphy, I would collect all the fine poetry in this thread(not my doggerel, obviously), write it on vellum, and send it to abi to bind!

#188 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:34 AM:

Dan @186
An excellent job tying (there I go!) the three meanings into a book image.

What an amazing thread.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:35 AM:

Nancy @187
Vellum would work, since I could do it in a single signature and not use adhesives.

If we were all famous, and it was to be auctioned in some glittering charity gala, I would get each author to write the poem out in his or her own handwriting.

That would be more representative of our various characters than calligraphy.

#190 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:29 AM:

Abi #189: No one would want my handwriting, I assure you.

#191 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:42 AM:

Fragano #190: My handwriting was once described as "Very striking - could you read it for me, please?". That was before the RSI had really taken its toll.

#192 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Fragano @190
No one would want my handwriting, I assure you.

Nonsense.

That's like saying no one would want to look at my face because I am not a supermodel. Yet I can name you people who prize my face above the most perfect visages we have from history, the smoothest of skin and the most even of features. (My children, for instance.)

Would I call your handwriting calligraphy? Maybe not. But to ask you to write out your poems in your hand would be to rejoice in what makes you essentially you, not to ask you to be someone else. I could get a calligrapher to copy me out some Shakespeare, if that were what I wanted. This book, which I expect I will never bind, would require your poems in your handwriting.

#193 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:10 AM:

abi @ 192... This book, which I expect I will never bind...

Why not?

#194 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Time, Serge, or the lack thereof.

Even when I finish with work and come back from holiday, I will be time-constrained, and I have too many things in the binding stack.

Then I have to do an international move and start a new job, and I'll be back to the same time-poor position I have been in for ages.

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Too bad, abi. It's a nice idea.

#196 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 11:07 AM:

I studied calligraphy in the SCA (I'm apprenticed to Mistress Aleksondra d'Accipitre), but I never really got good at it. Of course, being me, my favorite script is Irish Majuscule (the one the Book of Kells is written in), and of course that's the hardest one (pace fans of Fraktur or Black Letter Gothic). I failed to learn it plausibly, in my own opinion, and haven't done it in years.

#197 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Abi #192: My handwriting is best described as cacography, the very opposite of calligraphy. Beautiful, it definitely isn't.

I'd also say 'never say never'. Things can happen that surprise.

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Cacography, Fragano? Sounds like my wife's handwriting. It's about as illegible as the writing of a doctor dispensing a deadly drug's prescription.

#199 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2007, 05:20 PM:

Serge #198: That sounds about like mine.

#200 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 09:32 AM:

I used to work with a lawyer whose handwriting was so bad that I found it easier to read upside down*. Turning it over freed my mind from what the letter forms should have been, and allowed me to see what they truly were.

-----
* I learned to read upside down when my dad said he could. It was an immensely useful skill when I was a financial auditor. Now I mostly use it in small meetings with too few handouts.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:43 AM:

ab @ 201... There's got to be an idea in there for a mystery, either a short story or a sonnet. A mystery sonnet? Why not?

#202 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Serge @201
See 194.

#203 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:09 PM:

abi @ 202... Yes, but, as with the poetry book, you can keep it in mind for when the concept of free time insinuates itself back into your life.

#204 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Serge @203:
I can't even bear to think about that sort of thing. There are too many "musts", "shoulds" and "would like tos" that I can't even get to right now. Adding more is just...too painful to contemplate.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 12:35 PM:

abi... I understand. Well, since you did hire me as your Muse, there's no reason I can't keep those tidbits filed away in my own mind for when you can do something with them.

#206 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:11 PM:

Abi, I have found it helpful to make a list of things I might want to do someday, and refer to it when I find myself looking for something to do.

Having stuff written down so I don't have to remember it helps me to not guss about it, and even to forget it.

#207 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 04:12 PM:

Ah, perhaps to fuss about it would make more sense....

#208 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 07:55 PM:

My handwriting is so bad that even I can't read it within a few hours. It's not the stroke, either; it's always been this bad.

abi, I don't remember when I learned to read upside down (I think it was immediately after learning to read rightside up and backwards, etc., it's just rotation of some type), but the first time I remember doing it was when I was sitting on the other side of the principal's desk. It's come in handy lots of times.

#209 ::: Pendrift sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2009, 04:11 AM:

209 also needs to find a new English teacher.

#210 ::: Dan Hoey sees another ESL spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2009, 08:45 AM:

Zillions of hits today on "tell me right I wrote the following sentence" and "give true I wrote the following sentence". Someone is ESL-bombing the internets.

I suspect the payload is in the header URL. Though what "Members/Thinning" is supposed to represent is anyone's guess. Hair club for morons?

#211 ::: Tangurena ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 01:16 PM:

About the only rebound books that I've willingly spent a fortune on was the Compact Integral Edition of Jack Vance's complete works.

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