A C.S. Lewis and Narnia galley slave
Jonal entry 1025 | November 7 2007
Last week's absence from this space, though it fell on October 31, had nothing to do with Halloween but the fact that I was under deadline to complete my review of The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia book galleys. Considering it was only the second break in the routine of the past 27 weeks, I think we're still ahead of our loosely defined procedural plan. Galleys, for those of you not initiated into the inner workings of publishing, are pre-print copies of the type of a document (in this case, a book) before it is "locked in" to the printing press for reproduction. As in many of the conventions in the publishing world, "galley" is an obsolete term in this world of high-tech computer typesetting and printing. But I thought this would be a good time for a discursion on how booksespecially The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia bookare produced.
When I was in my first job as an editor, at the Nanty Glo Journal in 1962-64, and for the four years after that at my second editing position at the Christian Beacon, "galleys" and their reading"proofing"were proper names of a major step in producing newspapers, books, and all other kinds of printed matter. In that time and for most of a century before it, publications were set in lines of metal type, each of which was cast in molten lead. After the lead cooled, a column of these lines of type was put on a metal tray, and that tray of type was the "literal" galley. The surface of the lead column was inked, a sheet of paper was dropped on it, and the backside of the paper was rolled either by a hand roller or a proof press. The paper was pulled loose from the type and it then presented a letter perfect preview "proof," the "galley proof," of whatever portion of the would-be publication was in that galley.
Newspaper galleys, as my mentor Andrew Rogalski showed me when I was being primed for the editor's job, usually consisted of a single news article, editorial, or special interest column like the teen column I wrote between 1957 and 1962. A book galley proof usually consists of two facing pages of a book. That's what I received by "surface mail" Monday of last week, but instead of a column of type created by a proof press running over a metal galley tray, it was a printout of two-pages-per-sheet of the computer file of my book. I had to email my list of discoveries about discrepancies found in the "galleys" back to my editor by Friday.
Galley proofing was essential when, for a century or so a generation or so earlier than ours, type was set by typesetters who worked on machines called Linotypes, who read the typewritten (or even, in the case of some of C.S. Lewis's early books, handwritten) manuscript as they retyped it into zink forms that were the prototypes of the lead lines of type that would be created later. Of course this process was very error prone. One of the most common errors is the "eye slip," which is almost self-defining. The typesetter's eyes slip from line of manuscript to one below it, and he types out a paragraph with words or even whole sentences omitted.
In my Everything Lewis and Narnia book, and most published material these days, what the author types on his computer keyboard remains the basis of what eventually gets printed between the covers of his book. The glory of the computer, over against the Linotype and the hand typesetting that preceded Linotype, is that no work has to be repeated. But in Adams Media's book production process, several levels of editing go into every manuscript before the file is considered ready to publish, and then the MS Word file is run through a more sophisticated software program that introduces the artistic touches that make a rough script the pages of a book. And each of these steps have the potential of introducing errors. So, despite all the amazing advances in the process wrought by computer publishing, galley proofing is still a necessary stop-gap...one of the final steps in turning a manuscript into a published book.
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