A Book of Snippets

27 February 2019 ● 3 mins read ● 6 images

Some of you might know that I write short stories. It's something I've done for a long time, and this year, I'm putting a selection of them into a book, of which I just recently made test copies. Below, I'll talk a bit about the process, the design, and when copies will be available for purchase.

The front and back cover come from an illustration by Mariya Suzuki. Mariya was the first illustrator to agree to collaborate with me, so the image is very meaningful on a personal level.

The book size is A6, which is the traditional bunkobon paperback size. I've loved this kind of book size since I first arrived in Japan, and even though to most Japanese people they're just books, to me they felt perfect; affordable, light, and easy to travel with. I wanted my first book to be reflective of these feelings, in the hope that it might spark the same in others.

The size did pose a few challenges, however: I had to research places that printed books in this size and in a low quantity (and in Japanese, too, which meant learning vocabulary about paper types and other printing details). I also had to work carefully with a friend of mine, Clay Gardner, to make sure the amount of text per page felt good comparative to the size of the book.

I'm really happy with the end result: each page is easy to read while also containing a meaningful amount text.

This part of the process - the design of the cover and the pages, and the typesetting - was the most time consuming. In particular, the size of the spine was a big point of concern for me, as this can change slightly depending on the quality and thickness of the paper. In the test copies I received, one or two of the spines were slightly out of balance; I put this down to working with on-demand printers, which put an emphasis on speed.

However, getting the book printed was surprisingly easy; once the printer had the data, they checked the page and cover dimensions and went straight to work. I had 10 test copies of the Snippets book in about seven days.

The overall quality of the book is great, especially considering the speed and price of on-demand printing, which for my test prints was pricey, but at larger scale becomes very cheap. The matte-style cover has a nice texture, and the actual pages themselves have a nice weight and friction, making them good to touch and flick through (it's surprising how big an impact feel has on the act of reading a physical book; we don't often recognize it when the reading experience is good, but we always feel it instinctively when the experience is bad.)

All in all, I'm happy with this as a small personal achievement. I didn't think I could do it, to be honest, but unpacking a box of my own stories in a book felt pretty amazing.

These test prints had a few small text errors in them, and need some small adjustments. Once those are done, I plan to print out final copies through a different printer (higher quality, and off-set printing,) and those copies of the book will be available to purchase at the end of March.

If you want to keep up to date with the book or my work, you can also follow me on medium or twitter.

Nice one! Could I ask you which company did you use to get these printed?

Marina Gonzalez I used a company called Chokotto, based in Kyoto. Their prices were very reasonable for small quantities.

By the way, I love your work! If you'd ever like to collaborate on a story in the future, please let me know. :)

Sorry Marina Gonzalez I forgot to add the link for reference: https://www.chokotto.jp

Hengtee Lim
Thank you so much!
And I would love to collaborate with you illustrating one of your stories some day :)

Congrats, HT! It's awesome to see it in physical form! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Your book looks really great!
I'm looking forward to getting a copy of mine!

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About Hengtee

Hengtee Lim

I'm a writer in Tokyo, Japan

I'm a Tokyo based writer who does food, coffee, and short fiction. In love with the ever constant ebb and flow of Tokyo life.

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