Archives for category: Why is that?

The U. S. Copyright Office defines it thus:

“Copyright law protects a work from the time it is created in a fixed form. From the moment it is set in a print or electronic manuscript, a sound recording, a computer software program, or other such concrete medium, the copyright becomes the property of the author who created it. Only the author or those deriving rights from the author can rightfully claim copyright.

There is, however, an exception to this principle: “works made for hire.”
If a work is made for hire, an employer is considered the author even if an employee actually created the work. The employer can be a firm, an organization, or an individual.

The concept of “work made for hire” can be complicated. This circular refers to its definition in copyright law and draws on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of it in Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, decided in 1989.”

Their circular provides more detail.

Probably the most obvious example of “work made for hire” is work written by an employee as part of the scope of their employment. Think journalists. Other categories depend on an agreement between the parties. Thus, perhaps if you were employed by a publisher as a Production Director and wrote a few last-minute entries for an Encyclopedia, fleshing out its coverage of baseball, your work would only be work made for hire if you had a piece of paper in which your publisher asked you to do the work under these terms. The fact that I didn’t have such a piece of paper doesn’t really matter, as I had/have no intention of suing for what is an utterly worthless right. Of course the law courts might decide that this was in fact part of the scope of my employment even though my job didn’t involve writing stuff, and although I wrote in the evenings while not in the office. One of the constant problems about copyright law is that you can rarely be certain about things: you can only really know as a result of a law suit — and law suits cost more than the bone of contention is usually worth.

Publishers contracting out jacket design to freelance designers should no-doubt note somewhere in their communications with the designer that the result will be considered work made for hire. No way you want to be delaying a reprint gettting permission for a copyright holder.

In the olden days a good comp would strive to avoid rivers: those white streams which meander down too many type pages. Here’s one from the Library of America’s Harriet Beecher Stowe volume.



Not that this is a particularly bad case. (There’s a more dramatic example at Wikipedia.) You can make out a river with a side branch in the last paragraph of this page from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I’ve outlined it in red — on a photocopy, not in the book! Rivers result from a coincidence of word spaces one below the other carrying on for several lines. They can be got rid of by making a correction in one of the early lines: the reflow resulting from such a change will probably work to eliminate the rest of the river. The word spacing in the first line of the paragraph is quite wide: it’s just easier to space out the line like this than it is retrospectively to tighten things up so that the word “from” can be taken back into line 1. Doing that would rearrange the word spaces all down the paragraph, and while it’s possible that another rivulet might appear, the chances are that taking back that one word would eliminate the whole problem. If there’s not enough room to transfer “from” to the first line, you set about attempting the same cure on the second line; “set” should surely be possible to pull back. Sometimes your move will get you into hyphenation hypertrophy: as you are only allowed to have three hyphenated lines in sequence the solution you select may become dauntingly complicated. A distracted comp could be tempted to edit the copy to get around the difficulty. “Aint sh’a peart young un?” will probably never be noticed! After all the author’s not going to be proofreading. In newspaper and jobbing work this way out was not uncommon. One way or another rivers can be eliminated, but as you can see it can be quite time-consuming, thus expensive, so of course more often than not the river is tolerated.

Unjustified setting (ragged right) like the pages in this blog presents less of a risk of rivers. With the constant word space permitted by the removal of the need to fill every line to the same measure, it becomes less likely, though not I suppose impossible, for a river to evolve.

While this sort of thing used to worry skilled craftsmen, we have to admit that as problems go it’s pretty minor. Still it is a fact that I notice rivers when I’m reading: and they do say that anything which distracts the reader from the author’s message should if possible be avoided.

Flying splice – which always sounded to me a bit like a pizza being thrown at your head, is actually a way of switching on press from one roll of paper about to come to an end to a new one. It is here explained by “As the main feeding roll nears its end, the roll stand is rotated to bring the next full roll of paper into running position. This is done with the press running at full or operating speed. Double-sided tape is applied to the leading edge of the new roll. The new roll is moved into contact with the running roll of paper. The taped edge of the full roll is pressed against and immediately adheres to the running roll.” Obviously this is a lot more efficient than stopping the press every time you get to the end of a roll of paper.

img_0454A photo is flopped when it is reversed. Think of the negative. Think of looking at it from the wrong side. The guy sitting there is now on the left, not the right. Maybe this works better in your design, so off you go. (Not sure it makes any aesthetic difference here though.)

But, oops, you forgot about the newspaper sticking out of his briefcase. Less obvious perhaps is the fact that breast pockets on men’s suits are generally positioned over the heart.

This error could result from a lack of care, but knowing what I do about publishing operations I’d bet that it happened because of a last-minute rush. The photo they had originally selected was found to be unusable after the job had been sent off to the printer (maybe they’d failed to get permission) and this one’s what they were able to locate at the last minute. Make up the new mechanical, and off it goes. Bang, bang; done. No time to check it, unfortunately.

Anyway, I think this guy looks a bit too delicate and polite to be Richard Hannay. Maybe I’m too influenced by the movie versions, though I do hate such ones as I’ve seen. Hannay has his own Wikipedia page.

This book doesn’t contain short stories you’d never realized existed. The “Stories” are in fact the five novels in which Richard Hannay stars: The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, Mr Standfast, The Three Hostages, and The Island of Sheep.



Here’s a nice use of a flopped photo, tweeted by Orkney Library.


This picture is from MIT’s Reading 17.



Click on it to enlarge enough to be able to read the labels.

Not much more to say about this really. I didn’t know about the tittle, and am not sure I altogether understand about the Ascent line, though it is defined at Typography Deconstructed.

In printing a rule is a line, though of course there are also rules in the conventional sense that printers follow. Think for example of Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press Oxford. Although the book doesn’t contain rulesª directly about rules, it does include plenty of reference in its rulesª to the appropriate use of rules, for instance in its rulesª about setting rules in tables.

Rules, in their manifestation as straight lines, are measured in points or fractions thereof. We tend to talk of the weight of a rule, not its thickness. The rules at the top of this page might be 1 point rules “printing” in 50% black, though translating from screen to print is nonsensical because of variable rendering. As a ruleª these rules will look different on your iPhone, than they do on your iPad, or on your desktop computer.

One should bear in mind the related manifestation of rule: this is an en rule – and this an em rule —. In well-mannered typesetting these will be set with a word space on either side of them. This may be a British ruleª rather than an American one though.

Of course the one ruler will rule them all, which hints at the derivation of the printer’s straight line. After all printers have other uses for the word line. The OED informs us that the phrase “rule and line” means determined or regulated, rigid or strict. Apparently the word rule used also to refer to riotous conduct especially in north England and Scotland, where we love such activity.

Before the halftone process was invented, allegedly by Henry Fox Talbot in the 1830s, illustrations all had to be printed via engraving or some such laborious technique. The halftone process, as it evolved from its shaky beiginings in 1873 (see Wikipedia’s article) takes a photo (and of course the invention of photography would clearly be a necessary precondition) and converts it into a series of regular lines of dots of varying sizes. imagesBigger dots would create the shadows, smaller ones the highlights. The exaggerated example at the left shows this in extreme. Retreat across the room and look at it and you’ll see a perfectly recognizable portrait. The finer the screen — the more lines of dots per inch — the greater the detail that can be reproduced. However printing technology and paper surface characteristics impose an upper limit to the screen value. Most regular book work is done at 133 lines per inch, while an art book on smooth coated paper will probably go to 150 lpi. Newspapers tend to screen at 85 lpi. The screen would be imposed by the simple process of mounting a transparent ruled grid in front of the photograph so that the process camera would only “see” a series of dots when it shot the art. (See also Dot gain.)

In the olden days publishers’ production staff used to do a lot more things for themselves, things which nowadays we have learned to slough off onto our suppliers (or software). Using a screen finder is one of these things. Authors often submit printed photos as artwork for their book. As I explained in my post Moiré, “an already printed photo will carry its original screen, and when it gets rescreened for your publication there’s often (usually/always?) a conflict between the two screen angles which sets up a pattern of darker and lighter areas regularly spread across the picture.” This patterning is called moiré and one should strive to avoid it. If you know the screen value of the original piece, you can adjust the screening you now have to apply to it to minimize the conflict between the two screens — just why we thought we had to provide the printer with this information, rather than trusting him to discover it, may amount to little more than that: trust. There was a time when workers kept their heads down and did what they were told: no less and importantly no more. So you’d tell them.

img_0446The screen finder shown above, is printed on a transparent plastic sheet. It consists of a series of thin lines, radiating from some distant vanishing point. When you lay this over a printed halftone and jiggle it around to pick up the screen angle it will form the sort of cross found in a moiré pattern, and the arm of that cross will be found to be pointing to the number of the screen value printed along the bottom of the oval. Quite ingenious. These screen finders, cheap to produce, were often given out by suppliers as gifts to their customers. This one came from Arcata Graphics Prepress.


This is part of the binding process for hardback books. Basically it refers to putting the case onto the book block. The signatures making up the book have been through the gatherer, and are now assembled in sequence. The first and last signatures will have had the endpapers tipped to them before the were put into the gathering machine. The assembled sigs look like this.

The marks running down the fold provide a visual warning in case any sigs are gathered out of sequence. With longer books it is not uncommon to see two slanting rows of marks.


Forwarding begins now. The first step is to join all the sigs together into a book block. This almost always used to be done by sewing. (It’s Smyth sewing, not Smythe.) The signatures are placed in sequence over a sort of saddle and a set of needles pushes thread through the fold at the spine edge, joining each signature to the preceding one, until the entire book is sewn together in one block. (You can see this process in the video below.) Sewing is being used less and less, because it costs money, and we now tend to use glue to hold the signatures together.

The spine will be glued and linings (two different types usually; crash and mull) are applied as are the  headbands. The sides of the book block (the outside of the endpapers which are tipped to the sewn sigs) is glued and the case is placed over the book block.

Building in forms the joints, compresses the book, secures it firmly in its case. This is all done nowadays in-line, but used to be a separate step in the binding process. In this video you can see the book being rounded and backed by a roller press and an operator with a hammer. This is rather rare today. In the old days the bound books would be stacked with spacer boards and compressed overnight to ensure the joint and the round were well formed and permanent.

(Link via Shelf Awareness)



You’ll know it when you see it. Laid paper has that little ridge and furrow pattern built in to it.

Here’s an extreme version of it offered by Gee Bothers of London for your wedding invitations:laidsample

Those furrows are made artificially nowadays, but the origin of the pattern goes back to the early days of papermaking, before we had invented machines to do the job. They weren’t as they now are a design feature; they were inherent to the process. Hand-made paper involves dipping a wire-bottomed sieve into a basin of water and pulp, pulling it out, and allowing the water to drain through leaving a sheet of (wet) paper behind. When you take the paper out of the mould, the pattern of the wires remains on the underside of the sheet: it’s a necessary consequence of the manufacturing process.

Nowadays so much of what we do in book manufacturing harks back to the old hand-work days: headbands, raised hubs on the spine, deckle edges, even the groove at each side of the spine, the half-title page, and lots of typesetting conventions. Nostalgia is alive and well in the book publishing business. When we decide to make a laid paper nowadays we do so for aesthetic reasons, and we have use a dandy roll, a light roller which carries the pattern and has no function other than to make an impression on one side of the web of paper. This pattern may include a watermark too: a laid paper doesn’t have to come with a watermark, just as a watermark can also be used with a wove (non laid, regular) paper.

The Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t really do justice to this term (this entry is unrevised since 1901). They include three paper-related quotations in a general definition of “laid”,  all dating from the 19th century. Like so many of the terms we use now as if they were ancient, the descriptor only became a word once we had developed to a point where we could have alternative choices. They cop out in giving the meaning only as “Deliberately framed” which doesn’t really work for paper (or indeed corn, ice, stitches and many of the other instances they reference)!

This will only be of interest to me I dare say (though it’s the sort of fact my mother would have delighted in), but they also explain the origin of what I always thought of as “the mill lade”, a contained stream, a sort of mini-canal which ran through the middle of the ancient wool town in which I grew up and was once used to power all the mills built over it. A laid drain is apparently a channel lined with stones — an exact description of the mis-spelled lade.

11879313-Pallet-A-CEN-EURO-pallet-on-white-Backgound-Part-of-Warehouse-series--Stock-PhotoA pallet is that wooden platform thing on which your books are delivered to the warehouse. It has wooden slats top and bottom. The ones without a bottom layer of slats are properly called skids.



A pallet is a tool used in hand bookbinding. It provides a rule, often decorated, which can be stamped onto the spine. It can be straight, as in this picture, or curved so that the design can be “rolled” into the material. Pallets are also used by potters.



A pallet, lest we forget, is a straw mattress too. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that a pallet is also a piece of armor for the head (a helmet), a small vessel used to catch blood in bloodletting, a vertical stripe on a shield, and a color between red and white. Quite a busy word.