A brief note to say that on Saturday we signed off, literally, on the two new titles from Book Palace Books: not only are the books in the warehouse, where they arrived on Friday afternoon, but all the necessary signing, numbering and inserting of plates is done. On Monday, the books start shipping.
I have to say I'm very happy with the copies I grabbed. The Complete Swift volume looks fantastic in its leather cover and embossed lettering, which is mirrored on the leather slipcase. The design is simple, stylish and the book fits snuggly. I'm the first to admit that this is an expensive book, but the money's all in the book. I've got to hand it to the printers: finding a red cow must have been hard enough, but to find one big enough to cover 200 book with its hide... I take my hat off to them.
The Story of World War 1 is just as gorgeous and, of the two, this is the one I've been waiting for. I can't help but think back to the hours I spent working on the artwork... well, now we have the finished books to hand I'm glad I did. There have been a handful of books out in the past few months where you can tell that a bit of extra effort went into making the artwork look the best it could be—the Reynolds & Hearn Century 21 reprints and the latest Dan Dare, for instance—and I think that The Story of World War 1 joins those ranks.
The actual signing of the books was a doddle compared to some of the things that came before. I arrived on Saturday around 11 o'clock, having faced the usual problems on the train—this time it was having half the underground lines closed down, which meant finding a new route to get out to Crystal Palace. And with twice as many people packed into the trains I genuinely overheard someone muttering, "Now I know how sardines feel."
By the time I arrived Norman Boyd and his wife Nicola already had a production line up and running, so it was an easy task to join on the end and start adding my 'X' to the World War 1 books. You tend not to think of the logistics of it until you're faced with the contents of 10 pallets, all of which need to be unpacked before you can even begin. You can see Norman's take on what it was like over on his Frank Bellamy blog.
The Complete Swift had also been factory sealed, so the process involved our designer Stuart opening the boxes, unpacking the books and stripping off the plastic; Geoff then removed each book from its slipcase, numbered it and inserted the same-numbered print, before I took the book, signed it, slipped it back into its slipcase and re-filled the empty boxes. Once we got into a rhythm, it didn't take that long to do the 200 copies. But when you add the 175 World War 1s that had to be signed and the 100 flexi-backs that we also signed, and the other books (King Arthur, Robin Hood, War Libraries, Rick Random) that I jotted my signature on, that 200 became over 500. I'm surprised I can still type.
It has been a long year getting these books into print but we're now hard at work on our next batch. And you can bet pounds to pennies I'll be keeping you informed of our progress