Making an ebook is manual work: it has to be written, someone has to lay it out for Kindle, EPUB and possibly for other formats, and finally the ebook must be tested on a range of reading devices and applications.
But how were books produced 200 years ago? Before offset technology or laser printers? It required way more manual work than ebooks. It was slow work with many steps prone to costly errors. Anthony Bourdain discovered a publisher in San Francisco who uses hundreds of years old methods to produce beautiful handcrafted books. These books are valuable artifacts valued by the quality of work, quality of materials and their uniqueness.
Arion Press in San Francisco has a team of craftsmen from typecasters and proofreaders to printers and bookbinders. Many book lovers are familiar with a part of the printing process when a print machine spits out pages that eventually will form a book. Printing houses that can do this are common across the world, even though the Internet and ebooks are slowly eating their business.
The difference between Arion Press and the others is that Arion does everything (apart from writing and editing) from typecasting to bookbinding for the books they publish. It is pretty amazing how a typecaster designs and actually manufactures the types that will be used in the printing process. Another piece of work that many book lovers haven’t thought of is bookbinding: how on earth the pages are stitched together?
This and many other wonders of the old world of printing press are viewable in Anthony Bourdain’s TV series Raw Craft. Video below: