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How Are Books Made?


The books you see nowadays didn’t take form until Johann Gutenberg’s invention made it possible to print several copies of books. The first book printed in 1455 was the Bible. We no longer use Gutenberg’s press for printing. The technology has a come a long way since printing presses were cast into iron. Today, printing companies use computers to make some of the work faster. Here are the steps on how to make a book.

  1. Manuscript. The completion of the manuscript from the draft to editing is usually done by the writer with the help of the publisher. The materials submitted to the printer are usually the final, polished form. The writer, editor or agent only needs to give instructions to the layout designer for the design of the book. Ideally, the manuscript has to be in digital form. If not, the typesetter must type the text in a computer.


  1. Layout Design. The writer, editor or agent will work closely with the layout designer to decide the following: typeface, page style, colors, pictures or illustrations, cover art, and type of paper and binding. With the help of computers, it is much easier now to layout a book. There are page layout softwares such as Adobe InDesign available for such a purpose. When the layout is done, a galley proof of the book is printed.


  1. Proofing. The galley is given to the writer, publisher or agent for checking. The galley is proofread for errors in text, layout, photos and page sequence. When this is done, the corrections are applied on the layout. Sometimes the process is repeated depending on the demands of the publisher. Others don’t need to print a galley proof and proceed immediately to imposition.

  1. Imposition. When the layout is done, the first stage of book production begins. This can be done using the computer with appropriate software. The individual pages are laid out in their final printing position. This method is called imposition. Then the imposition is used to create negatives or the file is sent directly to a printing plate. The first is called computer-to-film (CTF), the latter computer-to-plate (CTP).


  1. Stripping. The negatives from the CTF process are checked to make sure that the text and photo or illustrations are in proper sequence. Changes and corrections can still be made during this process. The negatives are then exposed to a sheet of aluminum called plate. In CTP, the filming process is skipped.


  1. Printing. The plates are sent to the printing press. Black and white pages pass only once through the machine, while colored pages require more than one. Currently, there are four processes used in printing; offset, letter-press, gravure and digital. The papers or sheets are fed to the printer either singly or through rolls of paper.


  1. Binding. The printed sheets are folded into signatures so they are in proper sequence. The pages can be sewn or glued. Then the edges are trimmed. The cover is attached last to the bound pages. Finally, the finished volumes are packed and sent to the publisher.