Excerpted from Country Editor, co. 1940, by Henry Beetle Hough.

An ordinary cylinder press will not fold papers, any more than a washing machine will sew buttons on shirts. In fact it will not even slit the pages apart so that the completed newspaper may be opened and read. Large flat sheets are fed into the press, and large flat sheets come out. Unless something is done about it, the sheets will remain in that same inconvenient state.

What we did about it was to fold our papers by hand every publication day, which was no great undertaking when the total press run was six hundred copies, but became more and more onerous as we increased the page size of the Gazette and as the circulation grew. Sometimes we hated to see a ten or twelve page edition, simply because of the long chore of folding the extra section and inserting it, in addition to the unavoidable regular stint.

We folded, but we had no way of cutting the pages without making altogether too much of a job if it, and for many years the Gazettes were circulated with the pages uncut. It would have been a fairly simple matter for a reader to slit the paper himself, but most readers either never figured this out or did not bother. They used to struggle with the whole sheet, and when they had finished the first page they would have the entire paper spread out, hunting for Page Two which, under the circumstances, was often elusive. To proceed from Page Three to Page Four was even worse.

When the Gazette went to seven columns, the paper with which a reader struggled was not much more tractable than a bed sheet. We suffered when we saw the efforts which were made every week to unfold and refold the paper so that readers could get at the inside pages. It seemed a pity that we had not stored up more of a treat for them to make their strenuous exercises worth while. Sometimes, also, we began to grudge the time and trouble we spent to fold an edition when apparently our readers could hardly wait to unfold it. A subscriber trying to cope with a new copy of the Gazette in public was often a mortification to us, and we tried to look the other way and appear not to see him.

There was always a struggle on publication day to make the mails, and this was important because it meant distribution of the Gazette in all the principal towns of the island at approximately the same time. It meant also keeping to the minimum the spread between the hour of setting the last lines of type and the hour of the paper’s arrival in the hands of its subscribers. Everyone who has seen certain familiar motion pictures knows how the thing is done in a daily newspaper office. An excited editor yells, there is a glimpse of machinery, and the presses start with the new headlines staring from the pages. We could not get away with a simplification like that even in the movies, because we could hardly gloss over the fact that everyone on the staff, from apprentice to editors, had to jump and fold for dear life.