**When we begin our publishing, hot type, that is molten lead cast into letters and lines, was just beginning to give way to “cold type,” type composed on computers. But the computers of the day, the one I worked on called a Compugraphic composer, were huge machines that looked more like giant organs inside of sleek laptops. The typesetter “composed” almost blindly, line by line, transferred onto photographic paper, which then needed to be processed through a mix of deadly chemicals. The process was spotty at best; if, during the process the chemicals were not perfectly blended the work was destroyed. So too could the type be faded by simple day light. Hot “wax” was applied to the underside of the sheets to allow them to be positioned onto large cardboard quartos that were later photographed for printing.
***Today, fortunately, most printing houses, who do both the printing and binding, also provide a selection of papers to be chosen from. In the early days of typesetting, however, the processes were separate, requiring the editor to visit both a paper maker and a printing house.
****Pamela Beach Plymell is the daughter of the renowned artist Mary Beach, who later, working at City Lights, published the works of Bob Kaufman, and under her own Beach Books, William Burroughs. A cousin, Sylvia, was the original publisher of Joyce’s Ulysses; Charley, involved early with the Beat Generation poets, lived for a while with Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady. Above I have featured a picture of the couple today.