On a Road Less Traveled
Horodowich and his production staff often request quotes from vendors they've not used previously and will sometimes send a completed book to new vendors just to get feedback on quality, pricing and scheduling. "This helps us ensure that our current vendors remain competitive," says Horodo-wich.
In addition, Teacher often visits book manufacturing plants to get new ideas for projects. "I leave vendor selection to my production staff," says Teacher, "but I like to see for myself what new and creative techniques vendors are using. "We try to be original in our book projects," he continues. "So we pay no attention to things like traditional trim size or usual paper stocks. I've
always been fascinated with what's possible from today's printing and
Some of the unusual production tactics and strategies Teacher uncovered are apparent in the publisher's book-plus projects, which are among the company's most innovative releases. For example, Pocket Packets is a series of small themed kits, each containing myriad items. The Zen Gardening Kit, for instance, includes a 2x3-inch, 36-page booklet on the centuries-old
tradition; a small packet of sand and a cardboard base to pour it into; a tiny wooden rake; and three black pebbles—all packed in a palm-sized gift box.
"The challenging part is procurement," says Rachel Cabrera, Running Press' production manager. "For these kits, we have to source not only book components, but also things like bath oils, diffusers, sand and pebbles. It's an opportunity for us to learn other aspects of purchasing besides just the usual book components."
The kits are wholly designed in-house, says Bill Jones, design director. Ideas, which come from both internal and external sources, are floated at regularly scheduled "New Titles" meetings. Once an idea is approved, Jones and his design team develop sketches for packaging. "Our associate publisher sometimes builds prototypes of kits in his home workshop and brings them in for us in the design department to examine, build on and copy," says Jones. "On Monday mornings, it's fun to see what he's concocted in his basement over the weekend."