Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Sweet Smell of Ink

I spent much of today doing press checks* on the magazine/annual report I've been working on for several months. As I walked into the press room, I noticed a mat on the floor that was printed with all sorts of warnings about the chemicals used in the press room. It didn't faze me. I took a big breath and inhaled that slightly acrid odor that is unique to printers. I love the smell of printers' ink and press rooms. For me it is total nostalgia, taking me back to my childhood and visits to my father's work, a small town newspaper office. The smell is just the same all these years later. The equipment may be computerized. I may set type on a Mac instead of a linotype machine, but the end result is ink printed on paper and that will always be magic to me.

Yes, I can design a webpage. I have a blog. I social network. I understand the importance of all these new methods of communication. But deep down inside, I will always love the printed word on paper. I love that in this age of internet communication, letterpress is making a comeback. Printing at its most basic is hip now. How cool is that?

Yesterday, I had jury duty and I dutifully went. I sat in the jury assembly room next to a woman who was reading something on an iPad. I had a book. I felt a bit old fashioned for a moment, but then, I thought, no, I'm cool with this. I love my books. I love turning the pages. I love the feel of the paper and the look of the ink on paper. So, do all those who go into work at a printer's each day a favor. Let them continue to love the smell of ink printing on paper. Buy something printed this week. A magazine. A book. Sheet music. A newspaper. A greeting card. And give thanks to Gutenberg for making it all possible.

You can also take the pledge to read the printed word here. I have. I hope you do too.

*For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, press checks are exactly that. You go to the printer and look at the job while it is on press to approve the color. If there's a problem, say a photo looks too yellow, the printer can adjust the color on the press until you are happy with it. Once you are happy, you sign the press sheet, and the job is run using the press settings used to produce the approved sheet.

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