Judging the book by its cover

Still working backwards through production on the Vampire story, we come to the cover. Black stock seemed appropriate, in spite of the fact that I used the same on the last book, Tenebrismo. Ah well. The overall pleasing proportions of the pamphlet and the cover are really a credit to Holly’s impeccable design and artistry. It was her idea to paint the paper labels to be pasted to the cover in vivid red swirls, and this stands out like a raw slash on the deep black cover.

The paint on the label sealed the paper, so I had to change up to an oil based ink (one that oxidizes, or dries in air) to print the labels. Oddly enough, I used a very dark blue ink, so dark, it appears black. The deep blue has a kind of richness to it. That, and the Goudy Text blackletter type I used printed perfectly over the smooth, sealed surface. Now why can’t I get it to do that on handmade paper? I had to letter space the Goudy text. Clicking on the three proofs below will serve to demonstrate the nuance of type. In the first proof on the left, set without letter spacing, the very expressive capital V is seated quite far from the adjacent lower case ‘a’. You have to imagine both letter as being solid block of lead founded with precision and right angles. As you can imagine, letters such as V and W can become problematic. In the second proof, I added a very little spacing between the letters, and the third proof is the final proof prior to printing onto the painted labels. The correct action at this point would be to cut away lead from the body of the type — mortise the V and cut down the ‘a’ so that they nest together. I had neither the time nor the inclination to do this, and hoped that letter spacing would do the trick. Letterspacing is normally done when using all capitals. Since Goudy Text is a chunky blackletter face, and seeing that it was such a large face to begin with, it wasn’t far off all caps. And it worked. If anything, I should have spaced the letter a bit more, but it works well as it stands, I think. I applied the first cover label with PVA (white glue) and even with weight on it, it still made the thin cover stock cockle. So I turned to glue stick, which works much better. I’m not certain how archival it is, but it doesn’t warp the cover. I bound this edition up, thinking it would be consigned to exist forever as my demo model, however, an eminent Canadian bookbinder at the Wayzgoose didn’t seem terrible concerned about it, and bought it. It makes me wonder if I fuss to much over tiny things. Naw. I fuss just enough. I like the Mohawk cover stock, but sadly the variety with the nice decal edge has been discontinued. I may change the stock in mid run, and that of course will create the need for an erratum for the colophon. (Now that’s the kind of phrase you really want someone to walk in on in the middle of a converastion! “Oh dear, I’ve got an erratum in my colophon.”) Endpages remain a challenge. I began using a quite vibrant red and blue marbled paper, then used some red paper and now I’m into some orange tissue. I like them all, but I think I will eventually settle for the first, deep, blood red paper or tissue of a fine grade that I can fine. The binding is a simple single long stitch, using red thread to tie it together.

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One Comment on “Judging the book by its cover”

  1. Tim Ramsey Says:

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

    Tim Ramsey


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