A Time, Times, and Yet More Time

by | Oct 24, 2006 | The Joys of Publishing

I had reported last week that the printer would be done with the book this Thursday.  That’s in two days.  As far as I know, this will still be the case, but when it will be shipped is becoming an interesting question.

Last week, when I spoke with my ‘account manager,’ I made sure to stress that I needed a final dollar figure in order to get them a check in time to get the order shipped without delay.  Sounding fully cognizant of the delays thus far, and sounding, also, eager to avoid further ones, she assured me that she would get me the information in time.

I called again this morning.  She assured me that she would have the information by the end of the day, and would call.  Instead, she emailed me with a breakdown of all the costs except for the freight, saying that she will need to have an actual completed book in hand before weights and carton counts can be calculated.

This fascinates me: that a company in the business of printing and shipping books cannot calculate the weight and size of a book printed in a standard size, using a standard weight of paper, and containing a known number of pages.  Seems to me that their shipping department might have come up with a chart or a formula, which wouldn’t even be that hard to do as they only print standard numbers of books with standard numbers of pages (224, 232, 240, etc.), but there I go thinking again.  Not only would this be a great convenience to the customer, but it would allow them to ship out an order as soon as it was completed instead of having it take up warehouse space while they wait for the final check to come in.  I was once, during the course of my varied career, a shipping and receiving clerk myself, and my own experience was that warehouse space was always at a premium, so I would think that having such a chart or formula would be a handy thing all around, but there I go thinking again.

Do a few days here or there really make all that much difference in a project that has taken years?  Well, I’ve got a book signing scheduled for the 4th, so yes, they do.


With all this time for twiddling thumbs while waiting for the book, I’ve been looking at the Desert Island List I posted last week.  I re-read The Spire over the weekend, and went through Life on the Mississippi again today.  I’d forgotten about the lengthy digressions in the second half of the book, and find myself wondering if Twain didn’t feel that a book ought to have a certain heft to it, and so went looking for things to add when his core material turned out to be slimmer than he wanted.  It’s still pretty entertaining reading, and for me, reading Twain is always a little bit like going back to Jersey County, the main setting for The Great American Desert.  He grew up just upstream and across the river, and his peculiar brand of humor is still current in that part of the country today.