The World According to Wonder at the Printer!

It’s coming! It’s coming! Only four more days! The WOW coffee table book, The World According to Wonder, will be available on Amazon, February 5. Can you feel the excitement? Here it is, at the printers, looking all deliciously pre-book-like and whatnot. I love looking at pictures like this. I love watching the process. The books are being printed in Northern California, so none of us have been up to oversee the process. Instead, we’ve all been poring over these pics, oohing and ahhing and getting all tingly. I decided to call the publisher Mark Ellis to get the skinny on what’s going on here.

James St James: Ring ring! Is this Mark Ellis from Almaden press?

Mark: Yes it is.

Well, hello! I wanted to talk a little bit about the making of the WOW book. First of all, tell me a little bit about Almaden.

Well, we are a printing/publishing company…

And what kinds of things do you usually do?

Mostly technical applications, tech books and whatnot.

Not many coffee table books, though, right?

It’s not our mainstay, no.

Walk me through the process of making a book this size.

(I immediately regretted the question as Mark then launched into a lengthy monolgue about hi-rez files and offset presses and 16-page signatures and color punching applications, and try as I might, I was unable to take notes fast enough, so when I looked my the legal pad later, nothing made a lick of sense. It was all just monkey scrawl. You’re gonna have to trust me on this one, the world has changed since Gutenberg set up his first printing press. Making a book like this is raaaaaather complicated.)

I heard there was a bit of drama with the shipment.

Oh, yes. With the boxes. It was just awful. The wettest storm in a decade. The rain was coming down in buckets. In a rush to get the boxes out, we had the pallets on the dock, ready to ship. There was an awning over them, to protect them, of course, but during the course of the storm it fell…


Exactly. They were exposed to the rain, and the cardboard boxes acted as sponges, ruining two full pallets, almost two thousand boxes…

And the books? ALL RUINED?

No, no, the books were wrapped in plastic and casing. It was the just the pallet of boxes to ship the books in that got wet, thank god. The books were fine, we rescued them. But their slip boxes were completely destroyed and we had to make them all over. Almost missed our deadline. That’s never happened before.

That must have been TERRIBLE.

We watched our money turn to garbage…

I’m so sorry.

Well, it all worked out in the end.

It IS a lovely book! 

There were problems with cover, too.

I didn’t know! What happened?

(And here, again, my notes trail off into jibberish. I’m not a technical person, you know, so this may or may not be what he said. Who the hell knows.)

We had planned to use 14-color hexachrome ink, which is really vibrant and really resonant, but costs a lot more and is a lot more work. Unfortunately, there’s so much wax in it that we couldn’t put the laminate on it. When we tried to laminate the backside, it couldn’t handle the production. It cracked. It looked like a five-year-old book. It was terrible. We had already printed up a full run of covers, 2,500 of them, and when we went to fold them they just went CRACK!

How horrible! I imagine it didn’t go over too well when you told the boys back here what was going on…

Ha! There was a slight panic, but ultimately we found a solution that didn’t mean going back to square one. Instead of throwing away the entire run, we put it through the press again, and added MORE laminate and MORE varnish. We were basically able to rescue the cover and deliver it to you the way it was designed.

Thank GOD. Well, it looks wonderful.

We’re happy with it.

We are too. Well, it was delightful talking to you. Thank you for your time.

Thank you. *Click*