Monday, August 26, 2013

The Printing

Given the declining market for print and the pressures of the digital age it is remarkable for a writer to yet experience the thrill, the first whiff of paper fresh off the press.  In recent weeks I have had a first printing hand-delivered to me while sitting in the publisher's office--an orchestrated and finely-tuned event whittled down to the minute, no doubt, with help from the UPS delivery boy--and the promise of yet other books that I could hold in my hand.

The book experience, varied between paper and digital, is a remarkable one . . . and I lament the passing of the actual pages from the sensation of having produced some final product.  Books are difficult to produce--from initial concept to shelved commodity--and the time and structure needed for the long haul do not seem as weighty for a digital product, as cover, typeface, dust jacket, and sales and marketing is reduced to mere internet exposure or the celebrity of the author.

Back in 1999, at the invitation of the publisher, I traveled first-class to Boca Raton, Florida to witness the printing of my second book--a trade paperback that, after being fed into the hopper of a giant electronic press--was spit out the end of the line, a fully-formed product, with my photo on the back cover.  The experience itself was a bit surreal, thinking that all those people--from press operators to paper-feeders to packing boys--were somehow employed, in part, by my role at the head of the creative effort.

I did have a shipment of books that arrived last week--my "author's copies"--two heavy and adorable boxes stuffed to the brim with soon-to-be-delivered product.  I opened one box, but the other shall be relegated to the dark and dingy corner of a closet, perhaps never opened, or, in some dim and distant future after my demise, opened at last by grand-children or great-grand children who will proclaim:  "What are these strange objects?"

"Books," may come the answer.

They might remember me then.  My name, I assume, will still be on the cover. 


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