Western papers are made from rag (cotton) and have a variety of textures or finishes. Japanese papers use mulberry and other fibres. Paper designs are diverse and are chosen on the relevance to the text and the aesthetic value. Price becomes secondary.
All papers are acid-free, thus insuring long life and colour maintenance. Some books from Thee Hellbox Press are printed on dampened, handmade paper to allow the type to bite deeper.
In an effort to develop a meaningful relationship between books printed by letterpress and those printed by offset, one should consider the following numbers.
There are twenty thousand titles published in Canada each year. Of this twenty thousand, only twenty are printed by letterpress. Of those twenty, perhaps five are printed on high-acid-content paper. All of the titles printed by offset are normally on high-acid-content stock and as such will self-destruct in time. About five of the twenty printed by letterpress are printed on machine-made acid-free paper, while another five are printed on mold-made paper, and the final five are printed on handmade paper.
Only one book every twenty years is printed on dampened handmade paper.
The choice of paper affects the price and of course the aesthetical quality. Although it might be subjective, innovation in design becomes important to many owners of these books.
The photos below show some of the steps in the process of creating printed text using a letterpress: