René Herse Book Update

René Herse Book Update

Printing a book is a long and exciting process. During the last few months, almost every week, we have received a courier package with yet another step in the process for approval. First the plotter printouts, then the digital color proofs, paper and cover samples, and finally, the actual pages of the printed book. And now the latest package included a hand-bound copy of the final book. The real thing! It’s a hefty tome, 424 pages weighing almost 3 kg (6.5 pounds). More importantly, it’s beautifully produced, and the photos really turned out great.

Our printer, C S Graphics, is one of the best in the business. They specialize in art books, which is why they are so meticulous. When you do a high-end book on Vincent Van Gogh or John Singer Sargent, the colors must be exactly right, not just approximate. While I am glad that the colors of the studio photos of the René Herse bikes are exactly like the originals, I am more excited about the depth and detail shown in the many black-and-white photos in the book.

C S Graphics is not the least expensive printer, but their quality is unsurpassed. And for me, that is worth the extra money. I know this book is going to be cherished for many years, and that is why we have put everything we have learned during a decade of publishing books into this volume.
The books are being bound now, and will soon be on their way to Seattle. We hope to have them before long. In the mean time, we are working out ways to mail the books so they don’t get damaged; such a big (and beautiful) book cannot simply be stuffed into a padded envelope. We want to make sure your copy arrives in pristine condition for you to enjoy.
For more information on Bicycle Quarterly Press’ René Herse • The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders or to pre-order your copy, click here.

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Comments (11)

  • Emmanuel

    I like a lot the blue of that hardcover. I find it reminiscent of “petrol blue”, which was the trademark color of the Longoni bicycles…

    November 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm
  • rhoehne

    looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to receiving my copy.

    November 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm
  • RosyRambler

    Jan, if you continue to create these incredibly wonderful coffee table books we’re all going to need to go out and get larger coffee tables! But, hey, that’s fine with me! I can’t wait to see this one. (Actually I keep your books tucked away in a safe place on my bookshelf where no harm can come to them. They are works of art themselves.)

    November 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm
  • Tim Evans

    Yes, please mail them in a box with protective fill on all sides of the book. It looks to be too nice to take a chance on damage in the mail. I will gladly pay for the extra effort/time and packing.

    November 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm
  • Owen

    Hi Jan, I’d be curious to know how you guys did the studio photos of the bikes (camera, lighting, etc.) and then what steps were necessary to prepare these film or digital originals for publication. Thanks and look forward to seeing the finished book!

    November 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      There is a lot to it… Having worked with professional photographers on three book projects made me appreciate the subtleties. You want good, even lighting and no shadows. You also want certain parts of the bike to have some luster, so the bike doesn’t look flat. You need to be careful what lens you use, so the wheels don’t get distorted. (A bike with oval wheels doesn’t look right!) You need a lot of room to get good lighting, so we rented photo studios whenever we could, or set up our own in large spaces. Once, we set up in an centuries-old chapel of a beautiful farm, another time we worked in a lovely chateau. Once, we had to set up in a carport, so we could shoot only at night. (You can’t mix natural and artificial light.)
      The photos in The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles and The Competition Bicycle, as well as the majority in René Herse were taken with a medium-format camera on old-fashioned positive film. The images were scanned by a professional lab on a drum scanner.
      All this is quite costly. I figure without the fees for the photographer and travel costs, photography runs to about $ 1200-1500 a day for studio and equipment rental, film and development. Each bike takes about 2-3 hours to photograph, depending on how many detail shots you need.
      Modern digital cameras have made it easier to take very nice photographs with less effort. You still need good lighting and enough space, but being able to see the results of your shoot immediately shortens the learning curve significantly. A few of the photos in René Herse were done with a very good digital camera, and most viewers would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. As with so many things, skill is more important than equipment.
      It’s often easier to shoot bikes outdoors, and if you are lucky and have good light, the results can be very nice. They don’t have the clarity of the studio images, but the biggest drawback is that you may have to wait for weeks until the light is just right. In the studio, you can control the conditions.

      November 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm
      • marmotte27

        A lot of money is certainly spent on ironing the sheets that hang behind the bikes, money that doesn’t always seem to be available for the pictures in BQ 😉

        November 18, 2012 at 5:06 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          The sheets have been retired long ago. We set up a photo studio at Bicycle Quarterly office, so that we can photograph anytime. I think you will agree that the photo quality in Bicycle Quarterly has improved markedly over the years.

          November 19, 2012 at 10:02 am
  • marmotte27

    Thanks for answering my somewhat mischeavous comment, that you publish in good grace.
    Yes, photo quality has greatly improved, ablsoutely. As I’m not reading BQ in the right chronological order but buy at intervals a few issues together from miscellaneous years, I’m still in the process of discovering your early photos and tend to miss the evolution that has taken place.
    And to be fair, if I hadn’t read Ray Dobbins account of his photo setup ( ) a while before encountering BQ, I probably wouldn’t have remarked the bed-sheet wrinkles in your earlier issues quite so much.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:43 am
  • Pearson Dayrider

    Very much looking forward to receiving my limited edition copy here in the UK. I hope that it does indeed arrive safely.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:49 am
  • 16incheswestofpeoria

    Reblogged this on 16incheswestofpeoria and commented:
    I’m looking forward to adding some book reviews to my website. This will be one of them. It’s ordered and on the way. In the meantime, I’m reinforcing the coffee table.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:23 am

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