Friday, October 22, 2010

Hot Off the Press!

A blog post by associate director Anita Kassof.

This past Monday, I traveled to Cheverly, Maryland with the Fleischmann family and Amy Freese, designer of Lights & Shadows, Arnold Fleischmann’s memoirs. Lights & Shadows, which I edited, is Arnold’s account of his family’s flight from Nazi Germany, his service with the U.S. Armed Forces, and his participation in the postwar transfer of power in Germany. The book is lavishly illustrated with historical photos and documents that trace Arnold’s journey.

Those photos and documents were one of the main reasons we traveled to Cheverly, home of Mosaic Press, which is printing the book. We wanted to make sure that as it came off the press, the photographs printed well, the colors were true, and the reproduction quality was consistent.

So, what does a press check consist of? Fortunately, Arnold’s son, Alan, snapped some photos of the process.

Arnold Fleischmann, the author, with Chief Quality Control Expert (his granddaughter, Natalia), waits in the “hospitality lounge” at Mosaic. He’s looking at PDFs of the book, which Mosaic had produced for Amy Freese and me to review before things went on press. A couple of weeks ago, she and I checked these proofs to make sure all the text and photos were in place, and the pages were in the right order.

Here’s Arnold with one of the first press sheets. (Though it came off the press first, these pages are actually in the middle of the book.) Groups of pages are printed more or less at random, cut down, and put in the right sequence. The press sheet is in a light box that enables you to see the colors as accurately as possible.

After approving the first press sheet (it looked great, though we did ask them to add a little more varnish to the photos to really make them “pop” off the pages), we toured the press room. With several huge machines running at once, the racket was quite something. Mosaic operates its presses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Here’s a sheet about to come off the press.

The pressman checks a sheet at random as it comes off the press to make sure the colors have remained consistent.

I’m standing in back next to Arnold, and Alan is in front, next to the press. Dafna Tapiero, Alan’s wife, holds their daughter, Natalia. Amy Freese, the book’s designer, is on the right.

Dafna, Natalia, and Arnold with some “make ready” sheets. Make readies are the first sheets to come off the press on a given print run, and they’re generally discarded because sometimes the color isn’t consistent. I sure hope these folks recycle!

This is a cutting machine. Once all the big sheets come off the press, they are collated, cut, folded, and then sent to the bindery where they’re bound and finished. And then . . .

We celebrate! Please join us at the Museum on November 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. for a book signing event with Arnold Fleischmann and see for yourself what a beautiful book we’ve produced.

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