Yesterday, I talked about the pleasure of a blank page. Today, I sing the praises of the ink-soaked, printed, and bound page--the finished, hot-off-the-presses book.
There's probably no greater reward when working in book publishing (except, of course, hearing the reaction a kid has to the book) than receiving the finished books I've been working on for months or even years. The crisp feel of the spine opening for the first time, the warm, familiar smell of the inked pages. I've looked at the words and pictures a million times before, of course, but for the first time, it's pure enjoyment--I'm not looking for typos or making sure the art matches the text or critiquing the typeface used for the title or fixing bad breaks or deleting extra spaces between sentences. I'm just a reader, experiencing the book the same way all its future readers will experiencing it. I get to enjoy it. To turn the pages.
We're already deep into work on our Spring '10 list--my desk is littered with manuscripts and printed-out indesign layouts and sketches for illustrations. The books that are now being printed and sold, the Fall '09 list, seems pretty far away. And, we often complain, there's never a chance to stop and appreciate and look back on a season of completed books--except for a few minutes when the first finished copies land on my desk. Then, for a few minutes, I'm a reader again, not an editor. I work in book publishing for a lot of reasons--helping kids, spreading literacy, etc. It's easy to forget, immersed in the ins and outs of work, that the main reason I have this job is that I love books. The finished copies never fail to remind me.
(PS: This series, the Field Trip Mysteries, will be available on our website soon.)