Monday, January 23, 2012

On Publishing: It's the Little Things, Really

Several people have asked for me to go into more detail on my experience as an intern in publishing based on my last post on the subject (you can find it here). I learned a lot of things during my semester there, but there is one thing that really stands out above the others. It is also an aspect of publishing people really tend to overlook!

Re-jacketing.

I am only partially kidding. Re-jacketing books is not the most exciting part of publishing; but, as an intern, it is a huge part of your time in a publishing house (at least it was where I interned). Lots of books will be sent back to a publisher because there is a tiny crinkle in the very tip of the corner of the back of the book. Of course, there are some legitimately messed up covers that need to be replaced. When you have 15-25 books in one box, if not more, things can get torn or bent in transit. These books really do need new jackets.

If you have ever re-jacketed a book, you have an idea of what horror this can entail. You have to examine each and every book in the returned box for damage. Chances are, the majority of the books in the box will have something wrong with the jackets. You would be surprised at how critical you become of book jackets after this experience.

Next, you have to take these completely flat covers, and you have to fold them perfectly over the book so the jacket cradles the book just so when it is open and hugs it snugly when it is closed. You would not believe how tense you get when you spend an hour or more hunched over books trying to get this just right.

I think hell is being trapped alone in an intern office with unending stacks of books to re-jacket with your favorite  cold drink and a delicious yogurt parfait that you can never touch sitting next to you. You really cannot drink or eat anything while re-jacketing books because even slightly damp fingers can warp the jackets.

... Or that could just be me being neurotic about it.

This was not what I did with the majority of my time as an intern there, but it was my least favorite thing about the internship. One time, I got three paper cuts right next to each other all within five minutes. I think it is a good experience, though, to do at least one thing you do not enjoy at an internship. No job will be perfect. That internship came pretty close.

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