As a publishing student, you get to see some pretty amazing things. Such as we did on Wednesday, when we went on a field trip to the distribution centre Booksource, and to Bell & Bain – printers and book binders.
It felt so much like a school trip, but in a good way. Getting on a bus early morning, being transported to our final destination, being told where to go, listening (attentively!) to our guides. Us being publishing students (read book addicts), we were mesmerised by the sheer smell, amount, and process of how books make it to you, the reader. There were a lot of ohs and ahs, and also, at one point, a group gasp of twenty horrified people – we witnessed what happens to the books that are destined to be shredded.
Like I said, a distribution centre. But with a twist. It is full of books! Shelves and shelves of books (and some CDs but let’s not pretend that was of any interest to us). The smell was amazing, though I am sure were I to work there everyday 9-5, I would not be enchanted by it anymore.
We had a lovely person, Jim O’Donnell, give us a tour. And it was indeed fascinating. For example, did you know that if you shelve travel guides together, people who order one will most likely receive a different one because they just look SO similar? Which is why they don’t have much of a logical system to shelving at Booksource – simply to avoid mistakes.
We were then given a presentation in their briefing room (I think), but not before they gave us COFFEE and BISCUITS. Yum. An indeed lovely lady then walked us through Booksource’s agenda, a wee bit of history, what they do and how they do it. They are, to put it in their words, ‘helping Publishers do business for over 20 years.’
Bell & Bain
Now this was something. In a building the size of a warehouse is where the magic happens. Lots of machines connected to other machines which creates an intricate snail of printing, cutting, cutting even more, binding, cutting again, going through quality control, and packing… it was such a wow moment!
Bell & Bain currently have several warehouses, and we were so lucky as to visit two of them! My favourite part was definitely this:
Yup, we totally walked over what is a future book in high speed! Cool, right? I know.
Bell & Bain is definitely a place where I would love to revisit again soon – there is so much to learn and know about the process of book making. Plus, it’s witnessing magic happen, at least for us nerds.