Making Books in 1947

As a footnote to my posts on the Sisters in Crime workshop on the nitty-gritty of publishing in a disrupted age, this 1947 video from our friends at the Internet Archive and those glorious hoarders of the Prelinger Library shows how books were made. (I ended up embedding the one on YouTube since I couldn’t figure out how to embed the Internet Archive version.)

The narration seems to be aimed at the Dick and Jane crowd. “This man is an author. He writes stories. He’s just finished writing a story.” The gender roles in the film are interesting – men write and use machines to build and cut things, “girls” work on the part of the process that involves moving paper around and sewing it together. There’s nothing about how it goes from the author to the printer, or from printers to readers – it’s all about the machines. But what’s really fascinating is how very different the process was not too many years ago. When the type is hammered flat I was reminded of the craft work involved in letter press printing turned into an industrial process.

Hat tip to Library Link of the Day.


4 Responses to Making Books in 1947

  1. “He thinks people will want to read his story.” Boy, is he deluded! :-)

  2. Interesting that there are “men” working in the factory and “girls” working in binding.

  3. Julie Godfrey Miller says:


    That’s a fascinating reminder of how things have changed since the year I was born. All the work that went into getting something printed! Think of all those jobs that don’t exist anymore.

  4. Thanks for your detailed Bouchercon posts! I attended, but missed some of the aspects you covered. Much appreciated. :)

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