…and in early 1993 I was approached by BC Central requesting a quote for a major book project, namely a major retrospective of their history. This book would chronicle a period between 1848 to 1994, authored by Ian MacPherson. It tells the story of British Columbia’s dynamic credit union movement and the role played by its central organization, BC Central Credit Union. I’ve included a PDF link of the covers and major chapter pages here, Co-operation, Conflict and Consensus.
This was probably one of the most challenging projects I’ve been asked to quote and work on during our 25 year history. Simple questions like; “How many pages are we talking about?” [hasn’t been completely written or edited yet] to “Who will be responsible for the visual research?” [good question] and “Who will ultimately print this project, who is the primary audience and hence how many copies will be needed?” [Don’t know about the printer, but the audience will be Credit Unions, Leaders in the Credit Union movement and Employees. Oh and we want a stylish hardbound and less expensive soft cover copy. Might be nice to have some customization on some of the covers for VIP’s]. “Do you have a budget in mind?” [No, we know what the author will be charging but the rest is why we’re coming to you – to provide a budget].
The logistics required for providing a reasonably realistic budget for design, production and manufacture were daunting. I requested the author supply the first rough draft to establish word count and how many chapters he felt would be required and did he have any knowledge about resources for prospective images to help tell the story. Ian pointed the way to the archives that he had been researching for months, so everything had been chronologically boxed by decade. He offered to go through the material with me once I had a signed agreement to start.
We estimated a minimum number of required books through the help of Gayle Stevenson, Manager, Publications, Ian Smith , Director of Communications, they were low quantities and the project had the potential of breaking the bank. I had established the book would likely exceed 200-pages based on the authors first draft. Eleven chapters suggested that would likely increase the page count to 211, “Oh and we will need an index”, OK, 222. At the end of the day the book mushroomed to 290 pages.
It soon became evident that this was not going to be an affordable project for BC Central if we chose to print sheet-fed, which would provide the highest quality, leaving us the only other option web-fed – you know, newspaper and flyer quality at 100 dpi. In the early 90’s, Vancouver had one or two credible web-presses big enough and capable of handling this project. The soft-back covers, hard-back sleeves would be sheet-fed and the entire 290 page inside would run in 11 signatures 4 colour, over 1, and I insisted we had to run those pages at a minimum of 150-line screen or higher. After much discussion and I’m sure fear on the web-printers part, they agreed to do some R&D to meet the higher line screen request. I could now prepare the estimated budget, delivered to the powers in mid-1993, and they gave their approval to proceed.
The first piece of business, search through the archives for appropriate material that would act as the foundation for the visuals in the book. I spent weeks with the author and interns to collect boxes of period pieces that Ian MacPherson, author, would agree represented his story. I left with valuable box-upon-box of historical Credit Union Central archives. Many sleepless nights followed, not only in the fear of the building burning or an imminent earth quake destroying this irreplaceable trove, but what would be the most efficient, affordable way to record all this material for use in the book. Items such as newsletters, posters and other print ephemeral, dating back to the 1848 and the 50’s required extensive reconstruction as did photo’s of key individuals and groups.
David Lach, my partner agreed to the purchase of an Abaton scanner (desktop scanner) for a grand total of $478:00 (1993 dollars, you can do the maths) for the purpose of recording all the 2-dimensional and – I took a gamble – 3-dimensional objects, that later I’d manipulate in Photoshop on a Mac IIci. Long days and nights awaited. Initial scanning of hundreds of images and artifacts, logically storing and cataloguing the raw material, days and weeks of recreating damaged material and then finding a solution to represent this myriad of images in a creative and compelling way.
We prepared an initial set of design layouts for BC Central, providing options for the treatment of 4-colour chapter openers, typical black and white pages, covers, etc. This was a month of work, sleepless nights and a lot of prayer. The boxes of irreplaceable documents sat in my office whilst I tried to create logic from chaos.
The initial layouts were received with great applause, everyone from the top executives to the communications department gave the thumbs-up and it would take weeks more of arduous work to create the 290 page document. Colour tests with the printer were required, editors were still perfecting the document, names used were being checked and cross-checked and I still had these boxes of irreplaceable archive images in the studio.
For those of you who have press checked a web job, you will know this had to be the most excruciatingly, stressful experience. The press really never stops, just slows a little, so that paper is still running, ink still being poured and you have to make decisions quickly, taking each form, folding them roughly and making critical decisions on the ink mixes. Fold, examine, move ahead and so on. At the same time Mitchell Press were running the sheet-fed covers in another part of the plant, and I was busy discussing foiling and bindery with another department. A thrilling end to an intense endeavour and the books were delivered on time, within the estimated budget and to the BC Central Head Office with applause, see below.
“With my copy of Co-operation, Conflict and Consensus in hand, I have to congratulate and thank you for a truly outstanding job – and for providing a level of service that went far beyond the reasonable.
The complexity of the project certainly exceeded expectations. And those of us who worked on it here at Central are grateful for the patience, flexibility and commitment to quality shown by yourself and others at Baseline. Despite delays and obstacles lurking at every corner, you produced a corporate history that we consider the best example of its genre. It’s beautifully designed with inviting graphics and values that actually encourage handling, browsing and reading.
The response from credit union and Central staff has been vocal and enthusiastic. Clearly, Central was fortunate in working with you on the assignment. Without your talent and dedication, I’m sure we’d have gone off track long before completion. I hope that you and the Baseline team are as proud of the book as we are.”
— Gayle Stevenson, Manager, Publications, Credit Union Central of BC
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