The Book Project: Allagash Wilderness Waterway

In July of 2000 I went on a week-long canoeing trip with my Dad, brothers, and Boy Scout Troop 60 where we paddled 50-some miles of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in the North Maine Woods of Maine. It was a great trip--I took lots of photos and created lots of memories. I decided to share those memories with my Dad and brothers at Christmas in 2001 in the form of a book. If you want to read the book and don't want to know how I made it, just go to the bottom of the page. After writing the story, scanning photos, composing pages and all the other kind of production work I'm familiar with I set out to print and bind four books, which turned out to be a little more daunting task than I thought it might be. In hindsight I really should have taken some photos of the whole process to better communicate what is required. From start to finish each book took about 20 hours to assemble (not including printing). A breakdown of the steps I followed:

  • Photos were scanned on Nikon Coolscan III and Coolscan 4000 slide scanners and editied with Adobe Photoshop; pages were composed in Adobe PageMaker and proofed on an Epson Stylus Photo 1270.
  • I cut sheets of paper from 13" × 19" down to 9-1/2" × 19" for the final book size. Each book required 42 sheets of paper, for a total of 168 sheets to be cut and printed. Each piece of paper held two pages and were printed on the same Epson 1270. Each page takes about 15 minutes to print, for a total of 42 hours of printing!
  • After printing, pages were glued back-to-back. Three glued pages were folded together to form a signature. Each book required seven signatures. (I couldn't use larger signatures because of the thickness of the paper--42 sheets folded together wouldn't lay flat.) Each signature was sewn together by hand with a needle and bookbinder's thread. All of the signatures were pressed under a half dozen phone books for several days to tighten the binding. All seven signatures were then strapped, glued and sewn together.
  • The cover was assembled by wrapping sheets of matboard with hand-made (not by me) leaf-textured paper and was then held together with green bookbinder's cloth.
  • The signatures were then glued into place inside the covers. The inside of the cover was finished with a sheet of natural-colored paper. (Each of the four books received a different colored inside cover.) A dust jacket was made out of acetate.
  • Finally, I built a slipcase for each book. I taped a box together out of matboard then covered it in brown Kraft paper. I wrapped twine around the box to make it look a little more like a package of some sort. A velcro dot holds the box shut.

You can download the book in Adobe PDF format; it's about 3 MB. Right-click on the link and choose "Save Target As..." (or similar) to download the book to your computer. On a related note the movie Christmas 2001 shows the book.

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What a lovely book! And perfect for memories.

Well done. I am very impressed, with the layout, the photography, and the story. Thanks for sharing!

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