At 9:45 this morning, the semi truck pulled up at the curb. Advance warning is not part of the equation here. Most businesses that receive shipments delivered by large trucks are equipped with loading docks and regular hours. They don’t need to be notified. Even when the shipping instructions indicate that the delivery is residential and/or the freight hauler is supposed to call ahead, the warning call doesn’t get made. Even when we see those instructions printed on the delivery paperwork, it just doesn’t happen.
So we don’t worry about that any more.
When the truck pulls up—in this case, two days before we expected it, based on the online reports we can access on the printer’s web site—we are simply grateful that we are home; that it isn’t raining or snowing; and that the books have arrived.
We drop whatever it was we were doing. We get the hand truck and meet the driver at the tailgate of the truck and go to work.
We hadn’t prepped a space in the garage for these boxes, because they weren’t supposed to be here yet. Fortunately, the area at the front of the garage was easy to clear. Several pieces of scrap lumber lay nearby and could be put into immediate service: we set wood under the boxes to protect the books from moisture that might transfer from the concrete slab to the cardboard and then to the contents, the books. My daughter shuffled things around to open the space and arranged the wood while the driver used a pallet jack to move the pallet close to the back end of the truck. He and I both ripped away the heavy-duty plastic-wrap that secures the boxes to the pallet. Then he offloaded the boxes onto the sidewalk while I managed the hand truck, shuttling between curb and garage.
Within ten minutes, we had a pile of new books in the garage, I’d signed off on the delivery, the driver had set out for his next drop-off, and my expectations for the day had been completely rerouted.
Here’s the new stash of books—the third print run of Arctic Lace, by Donna Druchunas, freshly delivered from the printer in Canada. Four of the boxes that were on the pallet are missing from this photo; they needed to be re-shipped immediately to fill back orders. This shipment consisted of 931 pounds of books, or 768 copies (although when you’re moving boxes around it’s the weight that you think of first and not the unit count). (Another 2599 pounds from this print run went to the Pennsylvania warehouse of our trade distributor, National Book Network (NBN), which also has a pile of back orders to take care of.)
One box that was supposed to be on the pallet is missing because it was just plain missing. The first task I attended to after off-loading the boxes was sending an e-mail to my two contacts at the printer to let them know that the shipment had arrived and the boxes, and therefore books, were in fantastically good shape (not a given) and that according to the packing slip I’d downloaded from their site one box had not made it onto the pallet before the shipment was transferred to the trucking company. There were supposed to be 25 boxes in the load and we received 24. The missing item was a partial carton and probably just didn’t get packed on the pallet. They’re looking for it.
Then I began to fill back orders. My goal: to get the boxes prepped and labeled and the invoices finished and everything delivered to FedEx, UPS, and the post office before the predicted arctic front arrived and added the complication of snow to the mix. The goal is to keep the boxes of books dry throughout their travels.
I made it.
The dogs helped.
This is what our street looked like not long after I arrived home from my run to the various package-delivery services. Damp. I’m glad all the cartons of books are inside, either here or with FedEx, UPS, and/or the USPS.
It’s 6:45 now. It’s still snowing. There’s an active snow advisory and estimated coming accumulation of between 3 and 7 inches (7.5 and 18 cm . . . I do these metric conversions automatically because I edit lots of knitting for folks who use various measurement systems . . . ). My daughter has just arrived home from her shift at the bookstore to say that the roads are nasty now. I’m glad I hustled with the boxes.
In a few minutes, I’ll open the file I was supposed to be working on all day and at least make some token progress on it. Small progress is still forward motion.
Meanwhile, we have copies of this book in stock again! We’ve been out of Arctic Lace for about three weeks—since one week after the last print run shipped from the printer. (On a non-rush basis and working with a North American printer, it takes about four weeks to turn around a new print run. On this title, I ordered the third run as the second run was being delivered. I’d ordered the second run as the first run was being delivered.)
It’s fun to be managing a book that people are enjoying so much. Putting a book together involves a lot of delayed gratification for everyone who’s involved in the process. When the truck pulls up and there are boxes to unload, the event is one of the milestones that makes this publishing business seem real and worthwhile, especially when we need to turn around and immediately ship out a portion of the delivery.
And now it’s time to go open that file for the book we expect to be releasing next fall. Even formatting one paragraph represents progress toward the goal: having a truck pull up and boxes to unload and shipping papers to prepare and books to send out into the world.