I wanted to go through the process used to make each book. For the most part, making books is a two day task.
I usually start by printing the book covers. The book cover was one of the most difficult parts to create. The length of the poster board used for the cover isn’t quite as long as legal paper, but longer than regular paper. This made formatting the cover difficult, especially the binding.
I didn’t use fancy programs or templates specifically designed for book covers. I created the cover with a word processor (Apache OpenOffice Writer) and a paint shop program. I used the paint shop program to create a vertical image for the binding. Then, I imported the image to the word processor and aligned it vertically in the center (to the right on page 1).
I aligned the back cover of the book to the left of the binding image. The next page down (page 2) was used for the front cover. When the cover prints, they’re in the proper order as long as I select two pages per sheet and order the printing, left to right, then down when printing.
However, getting the layout to print correctly took plenty of tinkering. I started by taping two pieces of regular size paper together to get the actual length of the book cover. Then, after I printed a cover, I would make adjustments to the layout and printer property settings until the front cover, binding and back cover lined up in accordance with a book.
After the layout was as good as possible, I went to the printer property settings and adjusted the paper size settings. I changed the settings to “User Defined” and entered paper sizes similar to the size being used. To save paper I often printed over the same taped pages.
Once the cover was aligned, I purchased large sheets of poster board. I have an inexpensive, letter size paper cutter. As a result, I have to cut the poster board with scissors into sheets slightly larger than the actual cover. This way they’ll fit in the paper cutter. Then, I cut the poster board to the proper cover size via the paper cutter.
From there, I print the covers by feeding the poster board through the printer manually. Due to the thickness of the poster board and the length, they aren’t able to go through the normal printing tray. Even at this stage, adjustments still needed to be made before I was able to print the final version of the cover.
The printer property settings allow the user to set the type of paper to “thick”. If the paper thickness setting wasn’t set to thick, the entire cover would get smudged.
After printing the covers, I print the actual book pages. Four pages are printed per sheet of letter sized paper. The two odd pages on the front and the two even pages on the back. I print the front two pages first. Then, the two back pages.
Figuring out how to print the pages with a format that could be used for a book was an experiment within itself. The side of the pages sitting against the binding needs extra space.
As a result the margins needed to be adjusted. I’m fairly sure I did this via the tool bar: Format->Page->Page Tab.
I also needed to figure out how to print the pages. OpenOffice Writer has quite a few different print settings and each produce different results.
With additional tinkering, I figured out the page printer settings. I print the front (odd pages) first. Via the tool bar, I go to print and then the page layout section. I select “Left to Right, Then Down” and “Front Sides, Right Pages.” I select two pages per sheet and I check the box that says “Draw a border around each page”. The borders around the pages make cutting them in the center much easier. Then, I select Print.
After the odd pages printed, I would put them back in the printer tray. For my printer (Brother), I placed them face up, with the top of the page facing to the left. Then I would print the back side (even pages). I would go back to print via the tool bar. Then, to the page layout section. This time I would select “Right to Left, Then Down” and “Back Sides, Left Pages”. I would also select two pages per sheet and check the box that says “Draw a border around each page”.
To make things more difficult, I am not able to print an entire book at once. I don’t know if there are to many pages, or somethings wrong the software I’m using. However, every time I tried, the pages wouldn’t print as specified. I only mention this in case others experience the same issues. I specify a set number of pages to print and print the book in sections. That resolves the issue.
Even though this way takes longer, it’s actually a benefit. There are a plenty of things that can go wrong with each printing. I’ve dealt with the ink running out, paper jams, and yes, even human error while adjusting the print settings. Printing the book in sections saved plenty of paper and ink. If something does go wrong, I don’t waste as much paper and ink, because less pages are being printed.
After I print the pages, I cut them into two pieces with a paper cutter. The paper cutter I own allows me to cut about 5 sheets at a time. That comes out to about 15 cuts per book and takes me about twenty-five minutes.
Ensuring the pages are lined up as perfectly as possible with the paper cutter is important. Having pages that are all the same size with clean cuts helps the glue attach to all the pages.
Next, I put the pages in order and verify that there aren’t any pages missing. Once they’re in order I start to glue the bindings. I take binder clips and attach them to each side of the book (about a half inch from the binding), ensuring that the book stays together as it should. Then, I hang the binding side of the book off of something like a table.
I use a specific glue for book binding. I’ve tried other glues, but they don’t work as well. The book glue acts like a gel. It’s flexible and seeps into the pages securing them in place.
I use a foam paint brush to apply the glue. I try to get as much in-between the pages as possible. I also apply a little to the side edges of the binding. I find that applying a little glue to the side edges gives the book a stronger binding. After applying the glue, I usually try to place something on top of the binding to press the pages together and let the glue dry overnight.
The next day I glue the cover to the binding. I line the cover up with the book and use a pen to make slight marks on the inside of the cover where the binding folds at each end. Then, I take a ruler and line it up with the marks. From there, I make folds for the front and back sections of the cover, creating two creases and the book end. Finally, I simply place glue on the inside of the cover binding and attach it to the book. I let the glue dry overnight. That’s it. After the glue dries, the book is finished.
Far From Perfect can be purchased via: https://www.georgefarina.net/farfromperfect