We attend press checks to watch the books being made. It's always fun because a lot of our work happens quietly at a desk, but the printing happens in a humongous open warehouse filled with loud machines.
Visitors have to wear ear plugs as a safety precaution. Our printers speak French, so between our linguistic gap, the ear plugs, and the loud equipment, it's an experience marked by a lot of yelling and hand gestures as we make the little tweaks that make the final books perfect. The area where the books are printed is also humidified to keep the paper at the right bulkiness, so hot, steamy air blasts from the ceilings and walls.
The last time I visited for a press check I was thinking of a video clip that some of our older fans will remember, Sesame Street showing how the crayons are made:
There's just something so fascinating about seeing all of the huge, complicated pieces of equipment assembling something so simple, brilliant, and small.
Our printer was nice enough to let us videotape our recent reprint of Journey Under the Sea.
If you play all these videos at once, you'll get a sense of how it actually sounds at the printer--LOUD from all the machines working at the same time.
Covers, being printed from the four standard ink colors--cyan, magenta, yellow and black:
On this cover, a special section of very bright neon green is added by an extra pass on press.
The guts of the books are printed in folded sets of pages called signatures. The signatures are printed, quickly dry, are folded, and then travel through the plant to be joined up with the covers, bound, and trimmed.
The whole process can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks, depending on the project. Sometimes we need to see multiple aspects of the production. Through a secret door in the corner of the warehouse is a (quiet) fancy bedroom just like in a hotel. We take breaks there to wait for the next book to be ready to see. The press is constantly running, with lots of projects happening at the same time.
This is the very last piece of how the Choose Your Own Adventures come to life!
For a complete listing of Choose Your Own Adventure books, click here.