Ch.10: The Singular Delight of Endpapers

Ah, Endpapers!

They are lovely, as you can see here  

Hewit's Enpapers

a sample of endpapers from J. Hewit & Co

and here

However, you pays for what you gets: the Hewit’s range pictured above come in at £3.96 per sheet (inc VAT) where a sheet is 480mmx680mm: with each book requiring 2 A4 size sheets* (210 x 297) then you will not get more than four endpapers per sheet, with a fair bit of unavoidable wastage. That means that for 100 books you will require 50 sheets. Even with a bulk discount, you will still pay 3.24 a sheet, or £1.62 a book. A total of £162 makes endpapers the costliest item after the printer (£210) – and of course that is a one-off that you get to keep, whereas endpapers, as a consumable, are a recurring cost.

It is at this point that you begin, for the first time as a writer, to have some sympathy with publishers, and to realise that the streak of hard-hearted meanness that you complain of in them is in you also. You agree that the endpapers are beautiful but the cost makes you suck air in through your teeth. £1.62 a book! Surely that could be brought down a bit?

So off you go, scouring craft shops. You find that there are no end of books of fancy papers to be had at reasonable cost – and in the right size, too – but the patterns are all too big. This may be a matter of personal taste, but for me an endpaper pattern has to be on a small scale: once it gets beyond a certain size, it doesn’t work. Even eBay, generally a good bet for craft stuff (though quality cannot be guaranteed, so caveat emptor) yielded nothing to suit.

Fortunately I am married to a wife who (as our children remark) is able to lower the price of goods in any shop simply by entering it. She it was who found the remaindered packs of decorative paper in the bargain bin at Hobbycraft Dundee at a pound a shot so furnishing enough for 75 books at a cost of £30, or 40p a book – a substantial saving on £1.62, leaving a lot more of my £10 production target to spend on other things.

Of course, this saving was achieved at a cost of another sort: the papers were mixed, so there would be no uniformity across the production run, and although they were each attractive enough, some were more striking than others; but when you are doing a limited run of handmade books, singularity becomes a plus-point, making each rare volume rarer still.

book endpapers

a variety of McAvinchey endpapers, one incorporating flower-petals

In the picture above, the blue example illustrates how the remaining 25 books were supplied with endpapers – I encoded a relevant phrase using the ‘ornaments’ range of the Hoefler Text font that I had used to print the book and simply repeated it across a sheet of paper., which I then photocopied on to a mix of blue, green and yellow paper. Since rather simple coded messages play a big part in the book, it struck me as a cheap and cheerful solution – if you didn’t have aesthetic satisfaction from your endpapers, they would at least afford some intellectual diversion:

2018-02-26 10.26.01

I think my final word on endpapers is that they are something I would like to experiment further with in producing my own designs; in the meantime I keep a weather eye out for bargain lots of suitable paper from any source. Bookmaking does rather make a magpie of you.

* strictly speaking, your endpapers should be slightly smaller, to allow a small margin of bookcloth all round, otherwise you may have to trim them in situ, which can be fiddly.

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