Archive for March 26th, 2010

Adventures in Publishing!

Yesterday morning, bright and early (at least by webcomic standards), Poe and I set off to the warehouse where we rent space for our extra inventory. We had recently arranged to rent a different area where we’d be able to store more books, so we needed to move our existing stock to the new area and arrange it to leave room for the copies of Volume Three that were to arrive later that day. There was just a LITTLE bit of a problem. The books were previously stored at a different level in the warehouse from the new storage room, and there was no way to get a pallet to that area. The shortest route between the books and their new home was a flight of stairs and a pair of long hallways. Each box weighed at least 50 pounds.

Forty-five minutes later, we were sweaty and exhausted, but the forty boxes of books we already had in the warehouse were in their new home. Poe went off to play ancient arcade tetris with the warehouse owner’s son, who had helped us move the boxes, while I stood outside and kept a lookout for the arrival of a truck bearing two additional pallets of boxes of books with decidedly mixed feelings. I knew we were going to have to move them by hand, which despite my anticipation of the books themselves was not a particularly enthralling thought.

Eventually the books arrived, and thinking to save some work I asked the delivery driver if he could deliver the books to the front of the building instead of the back where the loading dock was. He had a battery-powered pallet jack, and a hydraulic ramp, so said sure. It was then that we discovered the first problem: pallets did not fit on his hydraulic ramp. In order to lower them to the ground, we had to cantilever them over the edge by a bit while we all braced them from below. So, okay. We did that for both pallets, then eagerly opened up one of the boxes to get our first glimpse of the new books.

That turned out to be a very good thing, because the books were, well… obviously wrong. Somehow, the printer had mixed up the specifications, and the books that arrived had the wrong coating on the cover and a couple other less obvious oddities. So we couldn’t accept them, and had to put them back on the truck. Here is the part where I realize I’m occasionally an idiot… it took us twenty minutes of straining and sweating with the hydraulic lift and two pallet jacks before I remembered we had a perfectly good loading dock in the back of the building. So we trucked the pallets all the way around the building, up a truck ramp, through the warehouse, and to the loading dock, where it took less than two minutes to easily load them back on the truck. Had I been thinking about it, I’d have realized we could have done that in reverse with the pallet of forty boxes we’d already moved that morning, too.

Of course, discovering the books were wrong had greater consequences than simply acting like an idiot trying to get them back on the truck. What followed was twenty-four hours of fretting and phone calls trying to figure out exactly what was going to happen with the reprint, the upshot of which is this: The reprinted books are due to be delivered next Thursday, which you will note is our shipping deadline of April 1st.

We are going to do our damnedest to get the books signed, packed, and to the post office that same day they’re delivered, but even with all the pre-prep in the world and a small army of helpers (which, btw, we don’t have but are willing to acquire if there are any volunteers), we can’t meet the deadline on all of them, because five hours just isn’t enough time. Some of the orders won’t be able to go out until the second. Words cannot describe my frustration with that reality, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it except this: If you want to cancel your pre-order because we might miss the deadline on shipping your order, we will give you your money back.

I’m really sorry guys, I gave a guarantee and there’s just no way to meet it at this point. This is the best I can do.