Printing Builders of the Pacific Coast and a Journey to the Heartland of America

I was in Kendalville, Indiana, last week to see Builders of the Pacific Coast get printed. It was the final step in what turned out to be a 3-year project.

Here are the press men who printed the book:

It was printed on a manroland Lithoman IV web offset press that is like a streamlined locomotive. It’s computer-controlled by a maze of electronic circuitry. It’s amazing to watch these guys run around making constant computer (and occasionally mechanical) adjustments while the paper streams through the rollers. The guys who run presses are a breed apart, smart, skilled, and on the ball. No mistrakes while you’re running a machine like this.

They started at 9:00 AM Wednesday and ran for about 24 hours, with the two crews. By midnight I was exhausted and went to bed and left the last 48 pages up to their discretion. By then the colors were nailed. The next day there was a buzz in the plant, that this book was special. Jeez, does it look good.! I think we gained some good karma by going with recycled paper in the USA rather than Indonesian paper in China, even if it cost $12K more. In evolving toward recycled paper, I learned that much of China’s paper comes from destroying Indonesian rainforests; also that all the goods shipped from Asia come on ships burning filthy polluting fuel because there are no pollution rules on the high seas. It ‘s really hard for publishers of 4-color books to not print in low-cost Asia, but maybe planetary damage should be factored into the cost comparison.

This book is a lot different than Home Work, which was a scrapbook of 20 years’ accumulated materials. This new book has a theme, builders of the relatively small 1000-mile long stretch of the Pacific Coast from British Columbia down to San Francisco. When I travel, I think of having the reader ride shotgun with me, seeing what I see, making the same discoveries, and having the same adventures. I hope this book can take readers along on these trips.

The book turned out, I gotta say it, drop dead gorgeous!

It will be in bookstores mid- to late-October. Yeah!

I had a great trip, haven’t been in mid-America for 20 years. I drove about 700 miles in 4 days, mostly on small roads, avoiding the freeways, exploring when I had time. Corn as high as an elephant’s eye, soybeans, old barns, small towns. I ended up shooting 280 photos with my little pocket camera (Olympus Stylist 1200). I was in my own special photographic heaven, wished I’d brought my Canon 20D, but still got some great pix. Ten beautiful barns, including a 100-year-old mortise-and-tenon round barn; small town homes on tree-shaded streets; old towns with 100-year-old 3-story brick masterpieces; a couple of pioneer log buildings. It made me want to make a cross-country trip before long. There’s a lot out there. I’ll try to put up some pix in the next week.

1840s pioneer cabin in Robe Ann Park, Greencastle, Indiana. Maintained by the Washburn chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

3 Responses to Printing Builders of the Pacific Coast and a Journey to the Heartland of America

  1. Great work, Lloyd! I'll be anxious to see the book in print. I love reading about the printing crew and machinery involved. I've been thinking of you alot lately as I have been re-reading 'The Last Whole Earth Catalog' from 1971, having not seen it in about 20 years. This post reminds me how you gave instructions for making your own WEC and even published the finances involved.
    Du Courage!! Scott

  2. Lloyd, I think you did the right thing printing the book in the US for the reasons you cite—not to mention the fact that it's a LOT easier to actually visit the printer to check on things.

    I'll be buying a few copies of the books as gifts for friends.

    Come to Oklahoma sometime. I'll show you around.


  3. Hey Lloyd, I wanted to let you know that someone gave me Homework to read while I was living in a little single room garage apartment and I have to say changed my world! I immediately started drawing blueprints and outlines for a personal living space and working out low or no power solutions. I'm 22, so I haven't had the benefit of living through the 60's and 70's. 😉 Ever since reading your book, my horizons have broadening.I live on the West Coast and just got a chance to visit the beautiful Maitreya EcoVillage in Eugene. I still plan to build myself a straw bale and, in the mean time, buy your new book.

    Thanks for being an inspiration!

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