He stands in the large hall in front of the gleaning yellow towers of paper and looks up like a mountain climber on his way to the summit. “Fantastic”, he whispers, with a mixture of respect and fascination. David Campbell is an Everyman’s Library publisher, the traditional London-based publishing house for all important works of world literature. Here you can find all the big names and their stories: Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and many more.
A few hours ago, Campbell arrived in Pößneck from London and said a brief but warm ‘hello’ to his contact person. They have known each other for over 20 years. She is GGP Media’s customer consultant and he is one of the company’s most demanding customers. He is now standing in front of the huge rotary press. He looks up briefly and then presses the button on the machine to begin a new production process. “Producing books is an art form. A very valuable art form. After all, a well-made book sells better than one that has been produced without any passion. It needs to be reader-friendly, to feel right in the reader’s hands. It needs to be precisely crafted and it should look the same before and after it has been read,” says David Campbell.
Producing books is an art form. A very valuable art form. After all, a well-made book sells better than one that has been produced without any passion.
Under the magnifying glass
He then rushes through the large facility and stops at the sheet-fed offset presses. He has a chat with the print worker. They laugh together and he borrows the thread counter, which is a small magnifying glass that is used to view the printed image. He uses it to check the register accuracy of the sheets. The two of them joke around while he does so. David Campbell prefers the production facility to the meeting room. He wants to see where his books become real. He wants to get to know the people who produce his books. The print worker takes time to answer Campbell’s questions as he pulls sheets out of the machine one at a time. Campbell looks at each sheet of paper, lays them together carefully and then walks on to the second rotary press. This one is too big for him to take it in at close range.
The steel colossus
Campbell goes through a side door to enter the steel colossus, the engine room. The sound is deafening. He is accompanied by a print worker. They go up to the third storey of the machine and shout questions and answers into each other’s ears. Campbell asks about every step of the production process – he wants to know all the details. The print worker tries to explain everything as precisely as possible. Now satisfied, Campbell goes back down the stairs and heads on towards the bookbinding facility. Here, he picks up one of his books and opens the front cover. He strokes the paper with his hand and smiles. The bookbinding worker passes him a new copy. They talk shop about quality and bindings.
The magic of books Campbell then goes back through the facility and returns to the first rotary press. The cylinders are now moving at a constant rhythm. “The printed book will never die. Although the e-book is a very valuable supplement, the magic doesn’t just come from the author’s words. The book needs to be produced well – the way it is made matters. The outside of the book should reflect its content!” he explains. The 27 millionth copy is just being printed and there are several thousand copies still to come. And David Campbell? He has already moved on and is making his way to his hotel. Tonight there will be a refined, British celebration. This is an art that GGP Media in Pößneck has mastered.
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