How a Book Is Made

How a Ebook Is Made

It began as a Phrase doc, pecked out letter by letter at a eating room desk in Connecticut.

Now, it’s 150,000 copies of a 626-page e-book referred to as “Moon Witch, Spider King,” with a luminous cowl that glows with neon pinks and greens.

Whereas digital media fully upended industries like music, motion pictures and newspapers, most publishers and authors nonetheless make the majority of their cash from promoting sure stacks of paper.

Right here, we’ll present you the way vats of ink and 800-pound rolls of paper grow to be a printed e-book.

The title we’ll comply with on its journey is “Moon Witch, Spider King,” a fantastical epic that attracts on African mythology, the second e-book in a trilogy by Marlon James.

Let’s watch this e-book get born.

The e-book jacket was manufactured first. The duvet of “Moon Witch, Spider King,” printed at Coral Graphics Providers in Hicksville, N.Y., was unusually sophisticated, with a vivid mixture of shiny colours. James, who was once a graphic designer, joked that his earlier occupation — and accompanying opinions — made him “the worst sort of individual” to seek the advice of on the duvet.

Most covers are printed utilizing black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink, however two further colours had been used to print this one: Day-Glo inexperienced and a particular blue. The machine above is loaded with 8,000 sheets of paper at a time, that are then fed by way of the press. Every part of the machine incorporates a separate tank of ink, one for every colour.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

These are management knobs on the six-color press. The “fan zone” controls regulate the air that’s blown onto the paper.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

A pressman, Glenn McCarthy, checks the plates and the ink ranges within the proofing stage. He’s lined with a superb white mud referred to as Spray Powder, which is used to maintain the ink from bleeding.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Each the humidity and the temperature of the plant are vital. The press space is saved round 70 levels, and to maintain the air moist, a fan blows a continuing superb mist of water.

A press operator, Sal Peri, checks a proof earlier than the print run begins.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

About 800 completely different colours are saved within the ink room. Coral Graphics goes by way of roughly 2,500 kilos of ink each month.

Faucets of ink are linked to 440-pound drums of the 4 important printing colours.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Full ink tanks able to print.

Used yellow and black plates.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

McCarthy stands close to the colour viewing stations, the place he’s liable for adjusting the ink all through the print run to verify the colours are excellent.

A stack of 40,000 printed covers waits to be laminated, which makes them extra sturdy. On the proper are rolls of laminate.

After the covers are laminated, they’re loaded onto a truck and pushed to a plant in Virginia that can print the e-book and package deal all of them collectively.

The e-book itself was printed by Lakeside Ebook Firm, one of many largest printing firms in america, at their 690,000-square-foot facility in Harrisonburg, Va. It runs 24 hours a day, seven days per week, and prints tens of millions of books every week.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Plates of textual content grasp, prepared for his or her flip within the press.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

These big rolls of paper have been lined up for a day of printing. The press itself is a goliath: It’s 26 ft huge and 127 ft lengthy, and weighs about 200,000 kilos. In keeping with Lakeside, you may park six semi vans in that machine, and it could take all six of these vans to maneuver it.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

A roll of paper sits ready to be spliced and spooled into the press.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

On the left, press assistants can entry the areas the place the plates are hung. On the proper is the place ink pumps into the press.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Rolls of paper weigh about 800 kilos every.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Gaby Gomes, a press assistant, modifications one of many plates. The e-book is printed 32 pages at a time, and each few hours, a employee should swap out the plates so the following 32 pages may be printed.

One of many many rollers within the printing press.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

At this station, the pressmen can examine how the ink is laying on the paper utilizing a densitometer, the blue instrument on the middle that appears just a little like a walkie-talkie, and might then make wanted changes utilizing the ink controls.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Paper strikes by way of the enormous press.

On the finish of the printing press, the 32-page sections are reduce and folded earlier than heading down this conveyor belt.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

The printed sections are then bundled collectively to maintain them in place till they’re sure. These bundle boards are positioned at both finish to maintain the sections tidy and within the correct order.

A stack of 32-page sections is lowered onto a bundle board. When the pile reaches a weight of about 30 kilos, one other board is positioned on high. Wrapped up as a unit, the stack then heads to the bindery.

In a separate space of the Lakeside plant, the books come collectively: The printed pages get sure, glued into cardboard covers and jacketed.

The pages of “Moon Witch, Spider King” sit on pallets within the binding space earlier than they’re loaded into the gathering machine. That machine will put the pages so as, arranging them as an entire piece for the primary time.

Pages are fed into the gathering machine.

Every e-book is trimmed after which glued collectively within the binder.

This conveyor belt carries sure books away from the binder. If one leg of the method goes down, this conveyor robotically sends all of the books to the opposite aspect, permitting the method to proceed whereas repairs are made.

Thomas Prior for The New York Occasions

The binding course of makes use of an amazing quantity of glue.

After the books are sure and glued, they head to a machine referred to as the backer, which readies the e-book for the cardboard cowl to be hooked up.

The cardboard cowl is named the “case,” and the machine that attaches it the “case-in.” Mitch Strickler, a case-in operator, stands at considered one of his stations the place he checks that the circumstances are being utilized accurately.

Printed and reduce covers wait on pallets.

Covers are separated and stacked earlier than going into the jacket wrapper machine.

Boxed copies of “Moon Witch, Spider King” are able to be despatched to the distributor.

“Moon Witch, Spider King” is Marlon James’s fifth printed e-book, however he says, “There’s nonetheless one thing miraculous a couple of e-book, about seeing it. It took me so lengthy to discover a writer after I was beginning out, you already know. Simply the actual fact of a printed e-book is one thing that I don’t suppose I’ll ever recover from.”

James indicators copies of his new e-book on the Penguin Random Home workplaces in Manhattan.

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