Friday, July 22, 2011

The Interns Do New Hampshire!

Somehow the words “field trip” still hold every bit of excitement that they did ten odd years ago in grade school. To start off this week, John, Hector, and I spent two work days in various parts of New Hampshire learning all about key elements in the publishing process.

First stop: Our warehouse in Jaffrey, NH. There we put faces to the familiar names of other members of the Godine team, toured the facility, and learned a rudimentary life skill – how to properly jacket a book! John and I spent quite a bit of time with children’s book Catie Copley’s Great Escape by Deborah Kovacs and Jared T. Williams. John, in particular, quickly became Catie’s biggest fan, though let’s just say his prospects as a professional book jacketer do not look very promising [I would like to interject here. In my defense, if I devoted twice as much time to jacketing each of Catie’s books, it was only out of my deep love and respect for that noble canine and my general inability to place the title of the book on the spine. – John]

Next: Monadnock Paper Mills! We made our way there with David and were treated to an informative PowerPoint presentation, explaining what we were about to see. A good thing we were given that information first – who knew making paper was so noisy? Armed with protective goggles and earplugs, we eagerly snaked our way through the mill, observing all stages of the process. It was really eye-opening to witness the entire progression from raw wood fiber to finished paper, and I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say I look at the pieces of paper I see every day (which I’ve often so willingly discarded) in a whole new light.

How else could we cap off an exciting day other than with a trip to Shaw’s? David insisted we have the Shaw’s experience and it’s no wonder why – it’s the closest I’ve come to Wegman’s (my hometown favorite). David and I dropped off Hector and John with a rough list of groceries and returned twenty minutes later to discover Hector had mistakenly purchased a rather expensive hydroponic tomato. We refuse to let him live this down and of course had to take a picture for the blog. [Pardon me for interrupting, but I’m going to just throw my two cents in before Ellie further slanders my character. Those labels at Shaw’s are very misleading, and these particular tomatoes happened to be adjacent to some other tomatoes that were being sold by the pound. Naturally, I assumed that, with a similar price being advertised, these tomatoes were also being sold for a few bucks per pound. It was only after paying for the groceries that I discovered the devious pricing scheme at Shaw’s, having paid a few bucks for that one tomato. Bottom line: It could’ve happened to anyone. That is all. – Hector]

Our final destination for the evening was gorgeous Dublin, NH, past summer home of none other than Mark Twain. David’s home in NH is actually the same house where Twain was famously photographed in a series of seven shots smoking a cigar on the white-pillared porch. The view was breathtaking and it was truly amazing to look out into the distance at the same scene the American author had observed many years before. After taking in the sights, we manned our stations and put together a summery Mexican-themed meal and then treated ourselves to ice cream. When the last dish had been rinsed we interns still had some day left in us, so we spent a few hours playing a game Hector taught us called Liar’s Poker (a card-version of the dice game Mentirosa). Apart from John and Hector attempting to cheat by speaking Spanish so that I wouldn’t know what they were saying, it was great fun.

The sun rose early Tuesday morning and after breakfast we waved our goodbyes to the magnificent house and stopped back at the warehouse. There we spent some time organizing the reference library and exploring the current stock of books. Then we took to the road for our last two destinations – Capital Offset and New Hampshire Bindery, both located in Concord, NH.

At Capital Offset, a premium printing company, our tour included an overview of the impressive machinery the job requires, and an explanation of where the name “offset” comes from. Offset printing is actually a type of printing that involves transferring an image from a lithographic plate to the paper via a rubber blanket of sorts. We witnessed this method ourselves and were able to distinguish the high quality results. After our thanks for the tour, we departed for the New Hampshire Bindery, only a few blocks down the street. What looked like a rather average-sized building on the exterior soon became a massive factory as we stepped down into the immense basement. By the end of the tour of the facilities, we really had a full appreciation for the many steps involved (in proper book-making) and had a sense of how to tell a well-crafted book from something less than lustrous. Speaking of luster, the New Hampshire Bindery is one of the few places left in the US that still does gilding, and we got to watch two guys and an old machine transform regular books into gold-hemmed tomes.

We really couldn’t have asked for a more fun-filled and informative trip! Many thanks to Richard Verney of the Monadnock Paper Mill, Jay Stewart of Capital Offset, and Tom Ives of the New Hampshire Bindery for hosting us at their facilities.

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