Getting it down on Paper

August 20th, 2010 | By Ian and Dominique Metcalfe | Category: Bibles Direct Latest

I’ve written about paper before, but it’s such an important part of  the physical characteristics of any book, including the  Bible, it’s worth another scribble. Ironic of course that this blog is not set down on the white stuff at all, and comes to you digitally. A sign of things to come, surely?

I was in the Oxford home of well-known Christian author Stephen Lawhead this week, poring over the advance copy of his new book The Skin Map,  and we were admiring the uncut pages of the fore-edge, but more especially we examined the book’s paper.  How it flowed.

Did you know paper flows? It has a feel and a direction which determines how it lies and moves and works in a bound book.  A  Bible which is printed long-grain  – with the direction of the paper lying top to bottom - may show slight ripples at the trimmed and gilded head and tail. A book which is printed cross- or short-grain has the paper direction lying across the page. This may result in rippling at the fore-edge of the pages and the book may feel a little stiffer.

Try it out on your favourite Bible. Whether the book is printed long- or short- grain, the paper is alive in one sense. It really does flow.  Both ways of printing are fine, but it’s something watching out for.

One other thing about grain. British Bible translators tend to have Jesus in the cornfields, while US translators will set it down as grainfields. ‘Grain’ is one of the very few words in the Bible which separates our American brethren and their British cousins, who use the word ‘corn’ to cover all grains, and not just maize.

Which is correct? It’s a bit like the grain of the paper.  That’s the short and the long of it!


Related Articles