Have you ever wondered how a book becomes a book?

1: Preparing the plates

Before printing can take place, metal printing plates of the book must be prepared. Rubber is burnt onto each plate, leaving behind a text image of the book.

2: Printing the book

A reel of paper is loaded onto the reel stand of the printing press. The type, weight, colour and width of the paper differ from book to book. The paper then goes through a chain of rollers, which helps stop creasing and keeps the paper straight as it goes through.

The running paper reel enters the print units. First, the rollers in the inking system transfer ink onto the metal plate. Then the rollers in the damping system spray water onto the plate removing all excess ink from areas that do not need ink. Finally, the print cylinders transfer the inked image area onto a cylinder which then pastes the image onto the paper reel.

After the paper reel has passed through the print unit, it will be cut:Folded, stacked and bundled, ready to be bound and cased.

3: Preparing the book cover

The book covers are printed at a separate printer as they require specialized printing – that might be coloured foil or embossing, for example.

For hardback jackets, cardboard and endpapers are pasted to the covers before the jacket is added to the book.

4: Adding the cover to the book

As the book is printed in sections, the sections must be correctly stacked before the cover is glued to them.

5: The book!

After the book cover is glued onto the printed sections of the book it is trimmed for the last time. And there you have it: the book is printed and ready to go.

Information from panmacmillan.com

Photographs © Maya Robert.