"It is very probable," said Mr. Charles C. Lane, Director of the University Press, "that at the close of the present printers' strike in New York, the strikers will find that many of the publishers employing them will have adopted the new method of printing introduced by the Literary Digest. The rapid improvement which each new issue of the Digest shows, and the comparative cheapness of the process, makes this seem likely.
"The new process is quite simple. The copy is carefully typewritten, then the typewritten sheet is photographed onto a sensitized plate. Treatment of the zinc plate in an acid bath eats away the metal around the impression of the letters, leaving them projecting from the surface. The plate, or cut, has then only to be locked in the form."
Improvements Are Expected.
"The objections to this process are for the most part surmountable. The blurred appearance of the letters can be remedied by improvement of typewriter type. Hitherto it has not been profitable for manufacturers of typewriters to prepare type as carefully as in printing, but this new demand for accurate typewriters will result in the necessary improvement. As for the uneveness of typewritten manuscript, due to the uniform space allowed for each letter regardless of its width, there are at present patents in Washington for differential feed typewriters--that is, typewriters which allow a different space for each width of letter. For example, an 'i' or an 'I' is allowed five units of space, while a 'w' or an 'm' is given eighteen units. As in the case of improved type, the new demand will undoubtedly bring a supply of differential feed typewriters on the market.
"The only unsurmountable difficulty is the uneveness of the right margin. It seems extremely doubtful whether a machine can be invented which will produce even right margins in manuscript without a great loss of time. I think, however, that we will come to accept a slight unevenness in the right margin in the course of time."
New Method Unsuitable for Newspapers.
"The element of time, of course, makes the process inapplicable to newspaper work. The necessity of doing one column at a time, the two operations necessary in engraving as compared to the one of the linotype machine, and, finally, the necessity of recopying an entire page of manuscript if the proofreader discovers one or two typograhpical errors, all combine to make the process longer than the requirements of a modern newspaper press demand. Another restriction is that the process cannot be used for the better grade of book work. The uneveness of the right margin, which I mentioned, and the difficulty of producing artistic work will not allow the engraving of the more expensive books until the process has been greatly improved.
"But for magazines, for cheap books, particularly for technical works in which tabulation is much used, the possibilities of the new process are unlimited. The exorbitant demands of the typesetters in New York has resulted in a great disaster to their trade.