While I love Japan, the Japanese people and Japanese arts, technology and culture, I abhor Japan's (and Iceland's) whaling policy…

Iceland's 'scientific whaling' programme, like Japan's, is merely commercial whaling in disguise.
Commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1982, but a loophole allows the killing of whales for research purposes. Iceland plans to sell the products of its 'research' to Japan, where whale meat generates four billion yen in sales annually.

Click on the Defend the Whales image above for further details.


Page imposition in Western codex books


Imposition is concerned with the conflicting requirements of readers and printers, and is often considered something of a mystery. For the home publisher producing books directly from their computer, however, there is no doubt that it presents a number of problems.

When a book is printed in sections (that is to say, any sewn Western book) the pages of each section are printed simultaneously, often 16 at a time, on a single sheet of paper. This sheet is then repeatedly folded, sewn alongside the other sections into the book, and the non-spine folds cut away to enable the pages to be opened. During the folding process, some of the pages will become inverted, so it is necessary for them to be printed upside-down so that after this inversion they will appear the right way up.

Books printed at home from a computer as one-of-a kind or very short editions are unlikely to be printed by such an elaborate process, but some of the constraints of imposition will still apply. Each section will be composed of a number of sheets, bearing a total of (usually) four pages, but these pages will not be consecutively numbered. For example, one sheet might carry pages 7, 8, 25, and 26. Although this sort of arrangement is easy enough to achieve with high-end publication software, eg QuarkXPress, PageMaker etc, it can be difficult to arrange if the only tool at your disposal is a simple wordprocessor.

However, any wordprocessor capable of producing text in two columns can output work ready to bind in most Japanese styles – the two columns form the text of the two facing pages, and the space between them the spine gutter of the book. Moreover, the pages need be printed on only one side, thus avoiding another complication and source of difficulty (eg paper-jams, misalignment of the backing text, incorrect imposition etc).

As an additional advantage, text and/or images may be allowed to run across a double-page spread with none of the risk of misregistration inherent in this operation with a multi-section book where, except for the centre spread of each section, the two halves of the material will be printed on separate sheets of paper.

If producing work to be bound in a pouch-book binding, there is a slight complication in that the readers’ spreads that appear on the computer screen will be broken during binding, although in a very simple, sequential manner. All that is necessary, after entering all the text etc into the form in which it is to appear, is for the material on the first verso page to be forced onto the next recto page, by means of a New Page command. When folded and bound, the proper relationship of facing pages will be restored.

This coincidence of printer’s and reader’s spreads in many Japanese bookforms is a major convenience for anyone wishing to publish work at home from a personal computer. In the future, technological advances in domestic-level equipment may make the imposition and double-sided printing of Western books less of a problem, but for the moment at least their lack of need for imposition and backing makes Japanese bookforms particularly relevant to the home publisher.

Another possibility is that, subject to the restrictions of copyright law, two-page spreads of Western-style books might be photocopied and the copies bound into orihon, detchoso or sempuyo books. I am indebted to Heather Woods for this suggestion.


The dark art of imposition explained in Dominique Fertel’s La science pratique de l’Imprimerie Saint-Omer, 1723

Reprinted from Computers and typography, Rosemary Sassoon, pub. Intellect.


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This page last updated: 3 May, 2010 17:08