lost track. I produce an annual directory. As directories go, it's not
large—under 300 pages in 6″ × 9″ format. But I was looking forward to
splashing a diagonal sash across the cover bragging that this was the
10th edition, only to have the client point out that we started down
this road in 2011, not 2012, so it's actually the 11th edition. Dang.
Missed my chance last year.
of my clients are self-publishing authors with one or at most two or
three books in them. So it warms my cockles to know that I've been
providing good service to one customer for eleven years. He's happy,
because publishing this book has increased his consulting business
several-fold over the years. I'm happy because why wouldn't I be?
I was thinking about the production process. Here's how we do it. I
export Word files from the InDesign file used the previous year. He
updates the Word files with tracking on. I copy the tracked changes back
into the InDesign file, update this and that, and we're good to go for
another year. In terms of physical inventory, this is frictionless and
it wasn't always so. The way this kind of catalog work used to be done
(think of telephone directories or auto parts catalogs) was with
If you have a vague notion of what a Linotype slug looked like—a bar of
metal the thickness of the type's point size, the length of the printed
line, and a bit less than an inch high—imagine the size and weight of a
single page of a phone book. Now imagine that multiplied by the number
of pages in, say, the Chicago White Pages or the Manhattan Yellow Pages
(the Red Book, if you remember that far back). Imagine the cost of all
that metal held in inventory, plus the space to keep it all within
reach. Because as new listings and address changes came into the plant
every workday, someone had to pull that page of type and make
corrections so that when the date came around each year to print the new
directory, the pages were ready to be locked into chases so new
stereotypes could be made and mounted on the press.
type tied up many millions of dollars in inventory before electronic
typesetting came on the scene in the 1970s. Printers were all too happy
to bid it good riddance.
just thought I'd say a little something about it before the term slips
into complete obscurity. Google Image Search has no idea what to do with
it. Neither do the multiple dictionaries indexed by onelook.com. But
now you know about it.
Happy New Year.