TV Host Puts Supply Chain to the Test
Complicating matters, the vellum wasn't completely opaque. Viking Penguin's production people had to make sure the book's case design didn't bleed through the jacket. This translated into extra printing and binding time, which Viking Penguin couldn't afford if they were to strike while demand was hot.
Axelrod made the tough call. She jettisoned the elaborate jacket used in the first printing, and went with simpler specs: 80 pound stock with a matte film laminate.
"That simulated the look of the first printing," she says. "It didn't have the tactile feel, but it looks similar. We had this [readied as] a fallback in case the book took off. We tested it and knew it would work."
Other book publishers fortunate enough to have a title featured on Oprah's Book Club found themselves in the same last-minute, high-stress rush. Since Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean inaugurated the club, the segment launched 48 more overnight bestsellers.
Random House published 20 of them. Their biggest hurdle: finding enough paper, and ratcheting up printing capacity, says Andrew Weber, senior VP of operations and technology at Random House Inc., in New York.
Sometimes Weber wound up using a different grade of paper, and spread the printing out among multiple book manufacturers, such as Berryville Graphics Inc., in Berryville, Va.; R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, in Chicago; and Quebecor World, in Montreal.
While multiple printings for bestsellers are not unusual, Oprah's Book Club put the process into fast-forward, Weber says:
"There's very little time to plan and react when you learn you're going
to need 750,000 copies of a 5" x 8" trade paperback in 10 days." Started in 1997, the AAP Honors award recognizes people and organizations who helped bring attention to American books. Past honorees include country singer Dolly Parton, for her Imagination Library program; C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, for devoting broadcasts to books; and National Public Radio, for its continuing book coverage.