for those who are in or around sane

Thursday, April 27

the trip was a success.

In other interesting news – my company sent me to check out the printing facility we use which required a bit of a drive and a hotel stay. Since I’m not sure how much I can share, I’ll only go with public knowledge for names and whatnot. You’ll see why in a second.

What actually happened: we learned a LOT about the printing and binding of books, and enjoyed a LOT of free food & beverages. The drive was pleasant, the hotel was nice and the food was plentiful. Our schedule though, was realllly intense. We were going from early to late, first with a presentation from an experienced worker, then with a guided tour of what we just learned.

If you happen to be at happy hour with me and mention anything about book printing or binding, you might just get an earful. I learned quite a bit. The electronic/technical/graphic design part of the tour eluded me for the most part, but the actual physical printing and binding fascinated me.

And, this is the company that prints all of the Harry Potter books.

So not joking. I picked book 6 off the massive bookshelf, and had quite the mixed reaction. One part of me applied my new knowledge: it’s a 3-piece binding with foil on the spine that was applied via copper stamp. The dust jacket was 10pt paper printed on with graphics, overlayed with dull laminate, embossed and stamped with foil. The other part of me nearly turned purple with the burning question: what was it like to print Harry Potter??

The answer I got was: very noisome. The process is the same as any other book, but security was so tight that everyone was searched before entering and leaving the building. Even your Lean Cuisine boxes were scrutinized. No tours were held, no employees other than the ones assigned to particular lines were allowed to even go near the process. Contracts were signed, lips were sealed. And R.R. Donnelley has kept its side of the deal for 6 editions. (You can see an acknowledgement to RRD in the back of the book, on the page that gives all of the technical printing info – if you really care…)

It was pretty cool. I admit, I felt a bit ashamed of my child-like excitement, but I’m glad i asked. And now you too have been graced with this knowledge.


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