Thee Hellbox Press

Private Press of Book Artist, Hugh Barclay

Why do these books cost so much?

When a book is printed letterpress (with lead type) it requires an inordinate amount of time to set the type, proof and correct and then to print, collate and bind and finally distribute the type. Not to mention that having a press with sufficient type and a sundry of other equipment requires a substantial capital investment, with a dedicated and heated studio space.  There are only about 5-6 letterpress printers left in Canada who publish books and these are individuals who are engaged in this work because they not only enjoy the work but also enjoy working with meaningful authors.  To my knowledge none of these individuals are driving a Porsche.

The books that I produce are printed on acid free paper that will last for centuries. Unlike offset printing, the words are impressed in the page and one can feel the impression by running a finger over the page. The impressions sparkle in the slanting morning sun and if the text is over printed on art work it gives the page meaning and the perception of depth.

Some of the nuances I use in design and typesetting may be of interest. Normal word spacing uses a three to the em spacer, however, when a word is followed by a comma or period I use a four to the em spacer to close the perceived word spacing. When the text is justified left and right I go to great length to eliminate negative word spacing and rivers by making small changes in word spacing or inserting a small pressmark in the line in an effort to reduce negative word spacing. Unlike other presses I write my colophons in the first person and sign each one in an effort to take responsibility for the type setting and design.

Unlike conventional books that depreciate after they have been bought, letterpress books on acid free paper appreciate and at a very profitable rate particularly when the edition is sold out.  When you buy a Thee Hellbox Press chapbook for $40.00 you can bet it will be worth twice that amount in five years and bring hours of joy in between.

%d bloggers like this: