As explained here before, I’ve formatted both my books ready for their various e-book versions and print editions. And I have to admit, although I certainly enjoy reading on Kindle, nothing beats the buzz of leafing through your own printed book if you’re satisfied with the outcome. When the shipment of books arrives, I invariably think of Dad. I always think of him too when I’m formatting, because apart from the years robbed from him and his generation by Adolf Hitler and his megalomaniac pals, he remained a printer all his working life. He did a seven year apprenticeship from the age of fourteen. He once told me how on the fresh-faced first day of his working life he’d been sent out by the experienced men of his printing office to a local chemist shop for a pot of ‘elbow grease’. The chemist had chuckled when he’d placed his order and gently informed him, “They’re pulling your leg, boy.”
Dad loved his job and was highly skilled at it. He was bi-lingual and used to set books in Welsh and English on a Monotype machine. For the technical know-how, justifying of text, kerning etc that we now rely on computers to organise and beautifully arrange for us, Dad had nothing else to depend on but skill and experience. He was however no Luddite, and I can easily imagine he’d be fascinated and impressed by the kind of technology that makes the abilities he’d acquired over years being available to his son by utilising a very straightforward piece of software. I think the digital revolution would have found my Dad thoroughly mesmerised. When you think of it, the actual idea behind printing, basically using reversed lead letters to make an imprint on a piece of paper, was pretty much the same in Dad’s day as it had been at the time of William Caxton.
So, it’s Father’s Day tomorrow. I’ll be thinking of you Dad.