When the editorial stages are complete, we send the final text and cover files to press so that the printers can make the actual, physical book you have supported.
First, the final files will have to be readied for press. This involves converting the PDFs into files that printing machines can understand. For colour books this usually also requires going through a process called ‘repro’.
Repro is a crucial part of publishing colour books, but it can add a couple of weeks to the production schedule. It is a process of colour correction and management which optimises the images in the book for printing. The final files are outputted to a printer profile based on the type of paper and the press that the book’s interiors will be printed on.
Books are printed on huge sheets of paper, which are folded into 16-page sections. These are bound together, either by sewing or gluing, before the edges are neatly trimmed. The inside of the book is then attached to the cover or case, which has been prepared on a separate production line.
Books coming off the production lines get packed into boxes by hand. We receive a few advance copies at the office (before the book is officially published, sent out to subscribers and distributed into the trade), and the rest head off to the warehouse where they will be individually packed and sent out to you!
(And here is some info on the publishing process as a whole.)