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|Book: A Lover's Discourse by Roland Barthes|
Narrative: Text for A Lover's Discourse was typeset and the mechanical copy of the manuscript was sent to a printer. The vendor then photographed the pages to produce page negatives. Next, negatives were stripped by hand onto large flat sheets known as 'goldenrods,' and the goldenrods were exposed with ultraviolet light. This resulted in 'blueprints," a positive reproduction of the book that is then checked for accuracy.
Cold-set inks are set simply by absorption into non-coated stocks and are generally used for books but are also found in insert printing and are the most economical option. Energy-curable inks are the highest-quality offset litho inks and are set by application of light energy. They require specialized equipment such as inter-station curing lamps, and are usually the most expensive type of offset litho ink.
The paper was made from pulp obtained by chemical means, known as kraft pulping. Chips of wood were placed in a large, sealed container known as a digester. The digester contained a strongly alkaline solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide. The mixture was heated to 320-356° F (160-180°C) at a pressure of about 116 pounds per square inch (800 kilopascals). Bleaching removes lignin and involves mixing the pulp with a series of oxidizing chemicals that react with the lignin. After each mixture, the pulp is washed with an alkaline solution that removes the treated lignin. Fillers are added to the pulp. A typical filler is a clay known as kaolin. Other chemicals often added to pulp include starches or gums. Rosin (a substance derived from pine trees) and alum (aluminum sulfate) are often added as sizers, making the paper less absorbent. Pulp is added to water to form slurry in order to make paper with an even density. The slurry is pumped onto a moving mesh screen made up of very fine wires of metal or plastic.
After the typeset version of the book was reviewed and necessary changes made, it was printed and bound with the cover, resulting in a finished book. The typesetting and printing consists of filming and all subsequent steps are typically done by specialized vendors. Book binding also involves sewing the signatures together, gluing the spine, and inserting lining and trimming the edges. Finally the book is enclosed in a cover.
A Lover's Discourse by Roland Barthes was given to me by a friend in 2008. Full of markings, it includes a double narrative - one of Barthes and one of my friend. I have only read passages of the book, never straight through, but have carried this book from Queens to Manhattan to Brooklyn.