Monday, June 2, 2008

Mommy, where do books come from?

"Mommy, where do books come from?"

"Well, dear, if they're Harlequin books, it's likely they come from the warehouse in Buffalo, New York."

"A book warehouse? What's that?"

Glad you asked...

A few weeks ago I had the enormous pleasure of participating in the Harlequin Customer Service Representative Appreciation day. It was a fascinating day, meeting the customer service representatives and touring the Harlequin distribution center.

First thing I saw when I pulled in? Geese. Okay, that wasn't interesting. But the very next thing I saw was an eighteen-wheeler with the Harlequin logo on the side. That was totally cool. Too bad I forgot to take a picture. Next time.

When I met with the customer service representatives I was delighted to bring them gifts. Thanks to the generosity of the other Superromance authors, I had piles of signed books, bookmarks, pens, and other small presents. I'd also collected signed book covers and made them into a collage thank you card.

Sorry about the flash on the glass.

Meeting the representatives was fascinating. They deal with a lot of interesting questions. I was intrigued by how much really personal service these folks provide. It made me want to call them up after I got home just to chat about books. ;-)

After the luncheon, I had a tour of the distribution center.

Warning: The rest of this post includes extreme book geekery. If your idea of heaven on earth is a bookstore, read on. The rest of you are going to be bored.

Harlequin has a short-run press in the facility that they use for *wait for it* printing short runs of books. Sometimes reprints, sometimes advance reader copies. Lots of different applications.

Here's some paper waiting to go on the press. (I did warn you about the book geek thing, right?)

My book geek soul was on fire when I took this photo. It's an actual book being printed. Sweet! You wouldn't believe how fast and intricate the process is--these long rolls get printed, folded, cut, and turned into a book in a few seconds.

Serendipity! I actually know the author whose book was being printed. Hello Maggie Shayne's book on the press!

After the books are printed and bound, the covers are glued on, and then they go up this conveyor belt to the machine that chops the edges off clean. (I'm sensing a Mr. Rogers vibe here.)

Want to know what's inside the book warehouse? Books! See?

Well, actually those are mostly boxes that the books are going to go into.

Here are books.

Finally, a close up of the very best kind of books. Superromance! This picture shows some of the June Supers. This is just one small portion of the copies of these particular books. These pallets were destined for K-Mart, I think.

That's it. Tour is over, folks. Now if anybody asks you where books come from, you know where to send them!