In printing, there is what is called a “press check,” which is going to the printer to oversee the actual printing of a job. For many print jobs—newsletters, brochures, etc.—you’re there for twenty minutes or so, approve the color or make changes to the sheet, and then bid your farewells. But with books it’s different. There are many sheets to approve and each can take one to four hours or more to print before the next one is ready for review. If the book is a high page count—say, over two hundred pages—and a large press run (maybe five thousand or more) the press check can literally take days. And with some printers who work twenty-four hours a day, it can be . . . well, very tiring. But it is seldom that we don’t find some error, or make some adjustment, that makes us glad we went.
Occasionally the client accompanies us. The process of having their book come to fruition has been a long process and they enjoy the opportunity to see it all come together on the plant floor. We show them what we’re looking for and how to spot it—consistent color throughout the book, accurate registration, no random ink dot “hickies” or other irregularities, correct pagination, and so forth. Before long, we can catch the client intently searching each sheet.
While we don’t charge for the press check time (just travel expenses), it’s one more way we take ownership of our client’s project from start to finish. Despite the “road trip” aspect, the days are pretty much drudge—working on other office matters (or catching up on reading) for two hours in order to do fifteen minutes of checking another press sheet. But by the time we leave, we’re comfortable the book is going to be as good as it can be—and the client returns to their office confident in the fine work the press operators did. They know that in a few more weeks, after the ink has dried and the paper has been trimmed, bound, jacketed, and each book individually shrink-wrapped, and shipped, that they will have something that will be a pride of joy for years—and will understand intimately how it all came together.