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What I Got for Christmas

Christmas came a week early for me this year.  While driving Logan home from downtown Denver to see the impressive light display at City Hall, I received a call from my friend and publisher Jason Haas.  The “Proof” of the Rock Climber’s Training Manual had arrived from the printer!  The proof is a collection of various test-printings of the completed book.  In our case, it included:

  • The finished, laminated cover,
  • Two large sheets of glossy paper each showing 8 “representative” printed pages (printed with the actual ink that will be used, on the actual paper that will be used)
  • The entire 304 page book (printed with inexpensive paper & ink)
  • The entire 1-season Logbook (printed with inexpensive paper & ink)
  • The entire 1-year Logbook (printed with inexpensive paper & ink)
The two large sheets showing the finished look of 16 representative pages.

The two large sheets showing the finished look of 16 representative pages.

The purpose of the 8-page sheets is to verify that the printed colors look “true” (that is, they look they way we want them to look).  It’s actually not that easy to get printed material to look exactly the way it does on a computer screen, and its more art than science that often takes some trial and error to get dialed-in correctly.  One reason for this is that computers use “RGB” format (literally Red-Green-Blue) to represent colors, and printers use CMYK (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key (black)).  That, and every computer monitor is slightly different, is adjusted differently, and displays the same image slightly differently.

All 304 pages of the book.  These are printed in 16-page "Signatures", which are then bound together to form the book.  The RCTM has 19 signatures.  As you can see by the color marks at the top and bottom of each page, these haven't been cropped to actual size.

All 304 pages of the book. These are printed in 16-page “Signatures”, which are then bound together to form the book. The RCTM has 19 signatures. As you can see by the color marks at the top and bottom of each page, these haven’t been cropped to actual size.

The low-fidelity printed books are used to verify that all the columns of text, figures, pictures, numbering, etc, are properly aligned and ordered.  Apparently it’s not uncommon for a page to appear multiple times, out of order, or in some other whacky configuration. 

I went over to Jason’s house Thursday night to check out the proof.  It was really exciting to see the entire book printed in actual size.  It’s one thing to scan through a PDF; it’s quite another to hold it in your hand.  The first thing I noticed is how visually stunning it is–there’s something interesting to look at on virtually every page.  We put a lot of effort into the figures and they look excellent.  There are also many, many stunning images from some outstanding pro photographers, and the photos look great.  There was one slight problem with some of the trasparent blue colors in our figures appearing lavendar.  We will bring this up with the printer to see if it can be improved, but its probably not a showstopper.  Our primary concern is that the photos look good and they do.

The Fixed Pin brain trust examining each page of the book for errors.  Ben on the left, Jason on the right.

The Fixed Pin team examining each page of the book for errors. Ben on the left, Jason on the right.

We found various nit-picky errors like text boxes that weren’t properly “justified”, but nothing major.  We made notes of all these and Jason has already corrected them and uploaded a new master file to the printer.  The covers we received were printed in “matte” rather than laminated, so we will ask for them to re-send laminated covers.  Aside from that the covers looked sharp.

The cover proof.

The next step is to discuss our feedback with the printer, then they can start pringing actual books.  They will overnight the first copy off the press to us so we can make one last check that everything looks good.  At that point we should have a good estimate of a release date for the book.  With the holidays in full swing we probably won’t hear much for at least another week, but I’m excited for the press to start churning out books in the near future.

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