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See the press approvals for the Northern Ontario books

November 20, 2018

This past Monday, November 12, at 7:33 a.m., a FedEx truck arrived at our door with an overnight package!

It contained the proofs for Steam in Northern Ontario and Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario (a first for us, by the way—producing two books simultaneously). Within minutes, I’d arranged to meet with Jim Brown, who supervised the photo reproduction in both volumes. Here I am at Jim’s place opening the package of proofs a few minutes before noon the same day they arrived:

I’ve mentioned in previous broadcasts that we have been improving the quality of photo reproduction in Steam in Northern Ontario over the 2006 printing. That’s due to Jim Brown’s involvement and the Mitsubishi press that Ampersand now has at our disposal. Here’s a comparison between the dust jacket of the 2006 printing (left) and the proof for the 2018 version (right):

Within hours, we’d scheduled press approvals at Ampersand Printing. And here Jim and I are, three days later, inspecting the first “pulls” of the cover for Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario. The pressman is using Steam at Washago as a reference for the CNR red and yellow on the cover herald:

In this picture below, we’re consulting the proof for the cover of Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario. We're inspecting the black tones especially, striving for the perfect values. It’s tricky on these covers, as there is a large solid black zone that would clog the printing press if we raised the density of black ink too high:

Pressman Mike is raising the black ink density for us. His normal starting level is 1.55 for black. That value is a measure of the percentage of light that is reflected from the ink. We had him bump that up to 1.65 and then 1.75 for this cover. For the “signatures” (the inner pages) of the book, we backed that value off to 1.65:

Jim and I are scrutinizing the proof for Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario against the “pulls” from the press, coming to a decision on the black ink density (Mike had nailed the red and yellow on the first pass). In the background is the densitometer, which the pressmen use to measure the actual density of ink across the entire press sheet (they continually check these values through the run):

It’s always good to have extra pairs of eyes looking at press sheets when thousands of dollars are invested in production. Here are sons Spencer (left, who came in for the press approvals from the University of Waterloo) and Duncan (right) inspecting the cover of Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario. Incidentally, these two lads will be packaging your books for shipment:

That’s me coming to a decision about ink density with the pressman, Mike. I’ve worked with him for years and he’s first-rate, as is the other pressman at Ampersand (Dion):

Here’s what a press sheet looks like for the interior pages of Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario. Once this has been printed on both sides, it will be folded in half three times and then trimmed along the edges. That will produce 16-pages. Ampersand will saddle-stitch three of these, plus the cover, to produce the softcover volume:

By early afternoon last Thursday, the second pressman (Dion) had come on duty and we were doing the approvals for the hardcover Steam in Northern Ontario. We started with the jacket, which you see on the pressman’s table (to the right) and on the densitometer (to the left). We locked in the black ink density for this book at 1.65 throughout, to match the softcover Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario:

Looking ahead

Early this coming week, Ampersand Printing will ship the press sheets for Steam in Northern Ontario to Beck Bindery. We expect they will receive the job—and perhaps process it—by week end. Stay tuned to these broadcasts for updates.

Distribution schedule

We will take delivery of at least the softcover Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario late this week. At the very least, we will distribute that book during the week of November 26. I expect, however, that we will also process orders for the hardcover Steam in Northern Ontario that same week.

Extra copies of Northern Ontario books

More than 60% of the print runs of both Northern Ontario books have been spoken for. We have no idea how long the remaining stocks will last. If you have not already ordered either book, it would be a good idea to claim a copy or two at either of these links:

Steam in Northern Ontario

Steam Scenes of Northern Ontario


New brochure

With the two Northern Ontario books in production, we have created a new print brochure (click on the link to navigate to the page where you can download it). Ampersand is processing that for us this week. Everyone who ordered either or both of the Northern Ontario books will receive one in his/her package.

Note our sale on older hardcovers is ending soon!

Of note on the new brochure is that we’ve ended our special pricing on our four earlier hardcovers (both Allandale volumes and the Lindsay and Hamilton volumes). These books had been priced at $69.95 but reduced to $49.95. This was to clear stock out of our U.S. warehouse—which we’ve now accomplished.

All purchasers of a Northern Ontario book will receive a special coupon by which they may override the price increase (for mail orders) until December 31, 2018.

For online orders, you will have until November 30, 2018 to take advantage of the $49.95 prices on Steam at Allandale, Steam Scenes of Allandale, Steam Echoes of Hamilton, and Steam Memories of Lindsay—after which they will return to $69.95 each.



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