Printing and Bookbinding in the Rift

Books come in two primary types, printed and hand written.

Professionally scribed hand written books are quite expensive. The libraries in Edgewater and Melinir both offer a pecia system, where small sections of books can be rented for the purpose of copying. Many copies of books will have been written by their original owners. Some will produce faithful copies (a relatively slow process), but many other will use extensive shorthand and abbreviations, which makes the copying process much faster, and for the original scribe, does not impact the use of the book. Such books can be quite challenging for others to read though.

Printing, while not a new phenomenon, has become much more common with the construction of a wood block press in edgewater. In general 100 copies of a book must be sold to justify the cost of plates, and the small staff at the printers can produces around 1500 sheets worth of books and plates in a year. This assumes new work as much of the time is spent in carving the plates. The press could in theory print 6 times this much, if printing and carving were done in parallel, but demand for books has not been high enough to justify that yet. Previously printed books can be custom ordered for a slight premium. Unless a book indicates it is printed only hand scribed copies are available. Some books only exist on the market as printed books, though presumably hand written proofs exist.

Books commonly come in three sizes folded (12×15), quartered (12×7.5), and eighted (7.5×6) based on what is done to a single sheet of parchment or paper. A sheet produces 4 pages in a folded book, 8 in a quartered, and 16 in an eigthed, and in general contains 8000 words without spaces or punctuation. Spacing is starting to come into vogue, and can be seen in many printed books, along with some new scribed copies. Generally the extra space is gained from taking up the margins, though sometimes books are simply longer. Printed copies of all eigthed and some quartered books are sold ‘uncut’, and the reader uses a thin knife to cut the pages open. Parchment books require wood covers with metal hinges and a latch, paper books are usually bound in leather.

Older books are almost always parchment, some newly scribed copies of books are done in parchment in respect of tradition. Printed books are always done in paper, and have thick pages, since printing can only be done on one side, after which two sheets of paper are glued together to produce the effect of printing on both sides of the page. (A change from the basic rules, paper is cheaper than parchment, and in the minds of many it is superior, parchment is an older labor intensive technology, other than tradition there is generally little reason to use it). Of course, with Torlynn mostly abandoned, paper manufacturing is currently suspended, so availability is a bit of a problem.

Listed prices and sizes are typical for a scribed copy of this book, and may vary, and listed lengths assume faithful copies. Typically faithfully but poorly scribed books will sell for half, and books in shorthand may be dramatically less.

Printing and Bookbinding in the Rift

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