Scott Vile on Ink & Paper

One of my favorite places to read is an old leather chair that my grandfather gave me when he moved to a small apartment. Next to the chair I have a neat reading lamp that is at odds with the chair in respect to its age, as it has a quartz halogen lamp from one of those fancy catalogs that is supposed to improve your life by selling a lot of ďbookĒ related items: pens that are too expensive to use, organizers for the unorganized, and retro phones with dials that dial with dial tones.

The chair is perfect for reading, the leather just supple enough from fifty-plus years of breaking-in. The reading lamp puts out a balanced light, just right for reading a book printed on an off-white paper. Every once in a while I pick up one of those glossy magazines that I subscribe to as a break from the current fare. Thatís when the trouble starts. I canít read a narrow column of type without having to constantly shift the magazine in my hands in relation to the light that is being cast on it. I go down the page, and the same thing. Constantly moving, constantly shifting to avoid brilliant reflections until itís easier to go back to the novel. Not as much hand work. Better reading, too.

At the Ascensius Press we print almost all books on uncoated, lightly textured, off white paper. It makes the ideas on paper easier to absorb and comprehend because youíre less distracted by extraneous light. When designing a book, the paper and typeface utilized are suited to the subject matter, but the major concern for us is printing text in black ink. Ninety-five percent of what we design and print is in black ink. And it has to be the right black ink. Dense, crisp, and in just enough contrast with the paper so itís not dazzling to the eye.

For us, black text type is a science and a black art. One hundred percent of the time, we succeed in making a readable book.

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