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September 27, 2016
Paul Gipe

Wind Opus A Step Closer to Completion: Contract for Printing


Who knew that printing a book would be so complicated? Yes, writing, designing, and editing a book are difficult. That’s expected. But picking out paper weights?

Paper weight is a term for the thickness of the paper or in the jargon of the trade the “pages per inch.” The weight determines the feel of the paper in the hand and the bleed through of images on the other side of the page. Lighter weight is cheaper and that’s why it’s chosen for text books. Heavier weight is more opaque and gives a feeling of quality. We’ve gone with the heavier weight after not a little discussion between me, the designer, and my former publisher Chelsea Green.

This is why we still need publishers. They worry about all these things, leaving us writers to worry about a host of other more weighty matters like spelling and grammatical conventions. . .

The design of Wind Energy for the Rest of Us is finished. The printer (Quad/Graphics), paper (#60 Somerset), and press run (2,000 units) have all been chosen. The contract is signed.

With good fortune, printed books might arrive in Chelsea Green’s warehouse by the end of October. We’re another step closer to completion, though sometimes it seems more like two steps forward and one step back in the long saga of bringing this book to print. It’s been two years since I completed the manuscript and shipped it off to Chelsea Green. Ouch!

The book is 576 pages in total, including blurbs (advance praise) and index--well under the original estimates of 700 to 800 pages. The designer achieved this with a smaller font, tight leading (the space between lines) and squeezing a lot of images into one column. Nevertheless, it is still a very big book.

The printer selected, Quad/Graphics, is one of the largest web offset printing companies in North America. Quad prints BusinessWeek, Time, Sports Illustrated, and People magazines. The book will be printed in the United States, but formerly Quad owned seven Canadian printing plants.

As an erstwhile publisher, I’ve learned the hard way that digital or e-books do not come first in the production process. I had thought we’d have digital books by now. That’s obviously not the case.

While it’s true that it’s fairly easy to convert a romance or murder mystery into a digital book, it is much more difficult—and expensive--to produce a digital version of a technical book, such as Wind Energy for the Rest of Us.

I’ve only just begun the process of seeking a contractor for the digital version. At the moment the prospect of digital conversion is daunting. There are many pitfalls to avoid. And like the design and layout of the print version, a digital conversion requires several reviews by the publisher. In this case, that means I can look forward to reviewing several iterations of the digital manuscript long after the print version is spinning on Quad/Graphics’ presses.

We’re another step closer to the distribution of my new book, but we still have a long ways to go to finish this drawn out process.


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