Tag Archives: hardback

The Heavenly Weaver 1975 Japanese picture book

Heavenly Weaver cover

Today I have a delightful Japanese story, The Heavenly Weaver, by Sachio Mitsukoshi, translated by Ann Herring and art direction by Kozo Shimizu. It was first published by Gakken (Japan) and published by Blackie and Son in the UK (both in 1975).

From what I can gather Gakken put out a series of these picture books in the 1970s – I have found pictures from The Grateful Crane, which look like the same setting, but with a different, but still dimensional, artwork style.

I’m not sure what the media is, perhaps clay or maybe salt dough. The clouds look like cotton wool and the season tapestry is painted cloth. The characters are dressed in ancient Japanese style.

The Heavenly Weaver is a traditional Japanese story. Princess Tanabata, the Sky-king’s daughter, sat at her loom every day and wove the seasons we have on earth. One day the Sky-king arranged for her to marry the Celestial Cowherd – whom she was very much in love with.

Heavenly Weaver

The Princess and the Cowherd were so happy as they wandered among the stars and clouds that they forgot to weave the tapestry and tend the cows.

Heavenly Weaver

So all the living creatures stopped moving, and the trees and plants faded and died.

The Sky-king couldn’t allow this to happen, so he separated the Weaver and the Cowherd by putting them on either side of the Milky Way and turned the Milky Way into a celestial river. But when he saw how sad the couple were, he allowed them to meet once a year if they were good. They meet on Midsummer Eve, and they say that if it rains that night the couple haven’t been allowed to meet and the rain is their tears. But when they meet, the birds form a bridge of wings across the Milky Way.

Heavenly Weaver

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb

Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb

Ooh La La!

Found today in an Oxfam Bookshop. Isn’t it gorgeous! I’ve never been any closer to Paris than Disneyland and flying past the airport on a train, but this has made me want to go. Although I’m sure this Paris is very hard to find now…

The jacket flap begins: Here is a book of complete enchantment. A book that evokes the spirit of Paris as individually as a whiff of a Gauloise.

Originally published in 1950, this is the revised and expanded version published in 1957 by Perpetua Books. (Ooh and set in Perpetua twelve point, on paper by the Inveresk Paper Co, at Musselburgh, Scotland, and bound by James Burn at Esher. I love it when typefaces get a credit!)

Kaye Webb writes in her introduction: We think Paris is novel and remarkable. We also think it is beautiful and stimulating. We believe the best way of proving this is to offer you drawings to look at. The text which accompanies them may be regarded as a faint prompting from the wings, a gentle murmur of conversation intended to keep you long enough before each picture to allow interest to awaken, memories to stir, and the charm of Paris in the springtime to sweep over you.

The book begins and ends with this image of the Eiffel Tower – something they view with ‘reluctant tenderness’.

Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb

Eiffel Tower from the Rue St Dominique

The Musée Rodin where the ‘nursemaids come and sit while their charges play round the plinths of Adam and Eve’.

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

There’s lots about the nightlife.

Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb

The Lido

Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb

La Rose Rouge

And of course the more morbid and macabre.

Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb


Paris Sketchbook – Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb

Grand Guignol

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Disneyland Annual 1974

Today I picked up the 1974 Disneyland Annual in the Oxfam Bookshop in Welwyn Garden City.

Disneyland Annual 1974

Disneyland Annual 1974

Published in 1973 by IPC Magazines Ltd. Copyright © Walt Disney Productions.
It was originally 80p (About £7 in today’s money). As annuals are dated for the year to come, this would have been on sale exactly 40 years ago.

As well as short stories and comic strips based on characters from Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh and the Aristocats, etc, the whole Disney Alice story is reproduced in comic strip over sixteen pages.

Disneyland Annual 1974 Alice and the Caterpillar

Alice and the Caterpillar

Disneyland Annual 1974 From The Lost Kitten – featuring Thomas O'Malley and Duchess

From The Lost Kitten – featuring Thomas O’Malley and Duchess

And there are the usual activities, jokes and puzzles. Even activities using washing-up liquid bottles from ‘Mummy’s’ kitchen.

Disneyland Annual 1974 Draw Donald Duck

Draw Donald Duck

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Victorian Children’s Non Fiction: The Young Naturalist – 1879

This week I bought a DVD of digitised out-of-copyright books about Lepidoptera and other insects. The are mostly 19th and early 20th century titles. Some have beautiful colour plates and some have hand-coloured illustrations.

This one caught my eye. This was published in the UK in 1879 – and is about butterflies and shells.



title page

title page

The writing is aimed at younger readers and goes into a lot of detail about what the Greek and Latin means in the scientific names – often recounting the odd myth or two if relevant.

the young naturalist page

Greek and Latin myths

Text about the large blue

Text about the large blue

Colour plate

Colour plate

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

World Cities – Yesterday and Today (a book of maps)

Cover of World Cities Yesterday and Today


World Cities Yesterday and Today by Michael Swift Published in 2009 by Fall River Press

This is not an old book, but a book of old maps. According to the cover there are over 250 maps and satellite images. There are over 50 cities covered. All have a satellite image with the area the old maps cover highlighted in different colours. Some cities might only have one map, some have several.

Now I love an old map, so this is heaven for me. Lovely to browse though, but I can imagine a good reference book for a writer of historical fiction (or non fiction even).

Here are three of the maps.
This one is Edinburgh early 18th Century

Edinburgh from World Cities maps


Here’s New York 1821

New York from World Cities maps

New York

Paris c.1700

From World Cities Maps


Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Britain’s Queen – a book about Queen Victoria published in 1897

I picked this up in the wonderful David’s Bookshop , Letchworth, the other day. It was published to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Written by Thomas Paul and with 76 illustrations, a photographic portrait of of the Queen (plate protected with tissue paper) and gold page edging. Published by John F Shaw and Co. Paternoster Row, London.

Britain's queen cover


Britain's Queen book inscription


Illustration of the young queen

Illustration of the young queen

Britain's queen illustration

Chapter opener

Tagged , , , , , ,

A small exercise in deciphering printing terms

shelves with books on

This week I spoke to a colleague about getting a quote for printing. When you ask for a quote the printer will, of course, ask you for the book spec – or what type of book it will be. This is what we got the quote on:

TPS: 198 x 129mm (B format)
Extent: 144 pages
Print + paper:
Insides – 1c/1c, for digital print copies 60gsm paper /for press copies 50gsm paper
Cover – 4c/0c, for digital print 240gsm cover board with gloss laminated finish / for press copies 220gsm cover board with gloss UV varnish finish
Binding: PB, perfect bound

Er – OK – so what have we asked for?

TPS: 198 x 129mm (B format)

TPS means Trimmed Page Size. So this is the dimensions of a page in millimetres height x width (therefore the dimensions of the inside pages). If you look at a paperback, you’ll see this is will be the overall dimensions of the book too. If you have a hardback TPS will be slightly smaller than the overall dimensions because hardback covers are usually slightly bigger than the pages inside.

B format refers a common book size.
B Format  198mm x 129mm

You might also see:
A Format 178mm x 110mm
C format ( or Demy or ‘trade’ paperback)  216mm x 135mm

Most of the books in the picture above are A or B format.

Extent: 144 pages

The extent is simply how many pages it will be. Incidentally – a page is one side of a sheet or leaf or piece of paper. So each piece of paper is two pages.

Many printers print books on large sheets of paper divided into eight page sections (this is called a signature). So each signature produces sixteen pages. If your printer uses this method they will prefer you to have a final extent (or page count) that is a multiple of sixteen. Have you noticed some books have lots of blank pages or an inordinate amount of adverts at the back? This is likely to be because the printer needed a multiple of sixteen pages, but there wasn’t enough text to fill a sixteen-page section. Typesetters and layout designers will employ all sorts of tactics to make the book fit a multiple of sixteen as closely as possible.

Insides – 1c/1c, for digital print copies 60gsm paper /for press copies 50gsm paper

This means that the insides will be printed with one colour on both sides (in most cases this will be black, but it is possible to use other colours). You say this as one back one, four back four, etc and you might see it written as 1/1 or 1 back 1. If it were a colour book it would be indicated by 4c/4c.

If the book is printed digitally it will be on 60 gsm paper (this is how heavy and therefore how thick the paper is) and if it’s printed on a press it will be on 50gsm paper. This is probably the printers’ ‘standard’ paper weight – there are other weights available, but weight affects the price.

Cover – 4c/0c, for digital print 240gsm cover board with gloss laminated finish / for press copies 220gsm cover board with gloss UV varnish finish

This is the cover – it will be colour on one side and not printed on the other. You might notice some books have printing on the inside of the cover – sometimes this will be in one colour so 4c/1c and sometimes full colour 4c/4c. Again the weight of the cover board (usually a thin card) is specified. Gloss UV varnish is the protective finish the printer (or print finisher) will give the cover. This is a very common finish that gives a shiny look.

Binding: PB, perfect bound

This is a paperback (PB) and it is perfect bound. This means that the pages are trimmed to size all the way around, the cover is wrapped around the book block and it’s all glued into place. This is the usual way of binding paperbacks these days.

Hardbacks are usually section-sewn and casebound. The book is formed of folded sections (usually of 32 pages) which are sewn together through the fold.

The pictures below show a perfect bound paperback (note you can see the glue), an old section-sewn paperback, a casebound hardback and a photo showing the stitching through the fold.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,