Does anyone in publishing use a loupe any more? Jewelers and watchmakers do Google tells me, and no doubt printers are still closely scrutinizing press sheets. We book production people used to spend quite a bit of time inspecting stuff though a loupe. Much of what we’d examine was output from some typesetting system or other.

As they were small objects they were often used as a promotional giveaway. Mine comes from a French paper company from whom I used to buy Bible paper.

Loupe 1

Loupe 1

Loupe 2

Loupe 2

Loupe 3

Loupe 3

Loupe 4

Loupe 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’d unfold your loupe and inspect the dot in this halftone, or the clarity of the raster line in that typeset “o”. I almost think we did it to make ourselves look like we were doing something important. While the shape of the curve on a digitally produced “o” may be a series of steps when viewed at intense magnification, we have to remember that our readers are looking with their ordinary eyes, and are interested mainly in the meaning of the word, not the regularity of the formation of the letters’ outlines. They aren’t going to be using a loupe.  So why were we? I once tickled a slightly defensive printer by saying if I could read it, the job was acceptable to me, even if the inking may have been a little less than ideal. And I do believe that — not that we should be willing to accept badly printed work, but that in the relationship between printer and publisher a little give and take is needed. Just because you could reject the job is not a reason why you must reject the job; especially if you had to use your loupe to detect the problem in the first place! Sure, let them know what you think about their sloppiness, but don’t nail them to the floor on rework. If your customer, the reader of the book, isn’t going to be inconvenienced by the flaw, why insist on using a whole lot more of paper and labour to make it a little bit better? I do suspect that many jobs are rejected because most buyers don’t have the self-confidence to accept them, and if necessary justify that decision to their boss.

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