Well, just a few weeks ago I had what I can honestly describe as one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went to see my book being printed. It was a bit like being in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except rather than magical sweets and chocolates whizzing around the conveyor belts, it was books – thousands of MY books!!!
The journey there was eventful as the Sat Nav decided to take me up a road that wasn’t actually a road. It was all a bit scary and there was a point at which I thought I might never see the civilized world again… I only wish the wretched software had had the wit to use that computer fault message we all know and love – ERROR: CANNOT FIND PRINTER! (Geddit?!).
I did get there eventually though – thank goodness – and was met by a lovely man called Kevin who gave me a super-fashionable hi-vis jacket to wear and took me into the factory to see how the books themselves were actually created.
It was extraordinary to see how the printing plates themselves were made – like giant photographs being developed – and how the pages are printed in large sections which the machines sort and fold and wedge together before they are glued onto the covers. Then the books are given a little tour of the factory, to wait for the glue to dry, before they are chopped up to make the page edges neat.
My book has some very pretty foil lettering and detail on the front, and it was brilliant to see how this is stamped onto the cover, just like a wood-cut.
One of the things I found most fascinating was that these paperbacks are all made as ‘twin’ books – two books are made together – before a cutting machine chops them into two! – Can you see this in the picture? It’s odd to think that every paperback you read has a long-lost twin out there somewhere… (*sob*)
Kevin told me about the paper itself – that it comes from Scandinavian forests, in which two trees are planted for every tree cut down. This pleased me very much as I love trees.
The finished books are all sorted into piles, wrapped and labelled. I loved seeing the machines neatly stacking and packing the books.
Having read and loved books all my life, it was a revelatory experience to see how these beautiful things are actually made, and it was all the more special because those thousands of words being printed were my words…
Huge thanks to Kevin and all at CPI Mackays for a totally AMAZING visit!
Lucy Strange’s book, ‘The Secret of Nightingale Wood’ is being published by Chicken House and will be available in bookshops from October 2016 (Just one month to go!! EEEEEEEEKK!!!)