Production in Pictures: The Metamorphosis of … Metamorphosis

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have noticed that we’ve been sharing a few more photos around the shop to give you all a peek at what book production looks like at PQL. Recently, we featured several photos of Metamorphosis: Selected Children’s Literature by P.K. Page as it made its way through the various stages. It was a challenging book because it contains poetry, prose and drama, all of which require particular design sensibilities to make them really look their best. But the result is an eye-catching and wide-ranging collection with a little bit for everyone.

Here’s a peek at the process!

Sheet of Metamorphosis film on light box.
Once the book has been laid out, to start the process, we make a plate of film representing eight pages–one side of a sheet–of text. Notice some blocks of text appear to be upside-down? That is so that when both sides of the sheet are printed and the whole thing gets folded, all of the text is facing the right direction.
Gathering signatures of Metamorphosis.
Once sheets are printed and folded, we are left with sixteen-page bundles called signatures. Do you see the sequential ticks on the spines of the book on the shelf? Those ensure that we have one–and only one!–of each signature before we sew the lot together.
Metamorphosis signatures being sewn together on sewing machine.
Here, Metamorphosis signatures are being sewn together on a 1905 Smyth National sewing machine. Most trade paperbacks are “perfect bound”, meaning the pages are glued together. PQL sews signatures together with thread, resulting in a more durable book.
Metamorphosis set in front of Polar cutter, waiting to be trimmed.
One signatures are sewn together and covers are glued on, we are ready to trim the edges down to size. The machine you see is a Polar cutter, which uses a blade to neatly slice through the folded edges of each book. To save time, we usually trim one side each of three books at once, rotating as we go to catch all the sides.
Finished copies of Metamorphosis, stacked.
The resulting stacks of books are ready to be mailed to our distributor, or to readers like you!

And there you have it, a look at a few of the many steps that went into creating this fabulous and challenging book.


If you would like a copy of Metamorphosis, it is easy to order online in print or digital format. You could also support your favourite indie bookseller and ask them to order a print copy for you!



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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.