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An Offer to Michigan Teachers

Lighthouses have been an important part of Michigan’s history. There are more lighthouses in Michigan than any other state. Our state has 3200 miles of shoreline plus many rocks and shoals that require marking with “offshore” lighthouses. Lighthouses offer an interesting glimpse of the past; shipping, our industries and the role that commerce has played in the development of our great state and nation. Lighthouses are many times used in teaching Michigan history.

Note:  Teaching isn't always in the classroom. Recently I learned about a barber shop's "reading offer" and felt compelled to share a book with them. The inscription on the book donated to the “Readers Library” at the Fuller Cut Barbershop, Ypsilanti, MI.  Alex Fuller, Proprietor, Fuller Cut, Inc.

When publishing my book, Michigan Lighthouses, An Aerial Photographic Perspective, there were a number of “book blocks” and “casings” that were left over, either seconds or with some other minor flaws. The book block is the stitched portion of the 168 page body of the book, the text portion, without the cover or the casing. I saved and had shipped from the bindery in Nashville, TN, many of these book blocks and casings (many unattached) with the intent of distributing them to teachers and schools for classroom use. Teachers may use them in whatever manner they wish—cutting them up and distribute the pages, use as a reference, or classroom projects.

If you or your school would like one or more of these books, please send me $5.00 for shipping and another dollar for each additional book (you’ll have some skin in the game), and I will be happy to ship them to you. If you wish to order any of these books, contact me at: 517-337-8193 or 209 Oxford Road, East Lansing, MI 48823-2626, email: I hope they serve your students, classroom and teaching very well. Kindest regards, John L. Wagner

Book Construction
Parts of the Book

1. Printed Page: The printed pages (28x40") arrive from the printer and must be folded. Note the upside down layout in the center of the printed page. This is called "page imposition." When the sheet is folded correctly, all the pages come out right-side up!

2. There are six pages of the book on each side of the printed sheet. The sheet is printed on both sides, resulting in a total of 12 pages. These 12 pages are called a "signature."

3. The folded pages are sewn on a “Smyth” sewing machine that stitches and holds the pages together in position.

4. All 12-page signatures are "collated," meaning they are gathered together in proper order (there are 14 signatures). This task is most often automated, but due to the large size of this book, this process must be done by hand. Each signature is placed vertically in sequence along a conveyor belt / assembly line. The bindery refers to this as having "14-12's", meaning there are 14 signatures of 12 pages each. A math problem! Fourteen times twelve = 168 pages in the book!

5. Casing: is the book’s “hard cover" (there are hard and soft cover books), and has to be built. The casing consists of:
      a. Binder board, "120 point" (120 thousands thick), cardboard “treated” to prevent warpage.
      b. Fabric cover, Permlin Irish Linen (made in England) is glued to the binder board (first printing).
      c. Spine of the casing, has a "square back" construction consisting of a strip of binder board.
     d. Debossing with foil. The lighthouse image and the name of the book (in the second printing) is stamped onto the outside cover and the spine of the book with a powerful machine containing a "die" and a thin white foil, leaving an impression of the lighthouse in the cover and the name on the spine.

6. Book Block:
     a. "Back gluing" operation; glues all 14 signatures together along with a muslin fabric to add strength.
     b. Trimming operation; book pages are cut to size by a giant knife that holds and slices off the excess paper.
     c. "Headbands" (little pieces of blue and white fabric) are attached to the top and bottom of the spine and hide the open gap between the case and the book block.

7. Casing-in of the book: brings the book block and the casing together. This process has been automated by a machine. The standard machine goes to 9x101/2", Nicholstone Bindery (the bindery of Michigan Lighthouses in Nashville, Tennessee) has a specially built machine that can handle a book up to 9x12". My book is too large (11x14") for automatic machine and must be done by a hand operation using specialty machines. Defective books: I envision ladies on the assembly line smoking cigarettes & sipping coffee in between operations and occasionally something happens!

8. End sheets: The end sheets connect and hold the cover (casing) and the body (book block) of the book together. The end sheet consists of one folded sheet of paper, giving it four sides, numbered pages 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. There are two end sheets, one in the front and one in the back of the book.
     a. Page 1 of the front-end sheet glues to the binder board (cover).
     b. Page 2 faces out
     c. Page 3 flips
     d. Page 4 “tips” (glues) to the first signature

9. Hinge joint is formed. It is "nipped in the joint." This is also a hand operation because of the size of the book. The automated standard machine can handle up to 9x12" at the Nicholstone Bindery. This book is 11x14."

10. Dust jackets (the outside paper cover with a clear plastic coating for durability) are installed.

11. Shrink-wrapped or "polly-bagged" books are wrapped in a clear plastic to protect them in shipping and handling until sold. The books are packaged in boxes of 10 with a two inch styrofoam block centered on the bottom and the books are stacked alternately to relieve stress on the binding and then loaded on wooden skids for shipping by motor freight (truck).

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