Advance copies and the final journey
There may be few things better in life than a locked-down morning in front of a computer screen being interrupted by the knock of a courier your subconscious has been pacing its cerebral confines in anxious waiting for.
The four months spent within Auckland's closed borders, most of which was also a time separated from loved-ones, was a huge struggle for its residents - Jason and I included. So having this project and the milestones it offered up along its journey provided a much-needed feeling of momentum amongst a general feeling of languidness in society.
The day I was fortunate enough to receive our six advance copies proved to be one of the highlights of my year. One can never quite grasp a true vision of a printed book until it is in one's hands.. all the dimensions and specifications described in an order form are just hopeful words until one is able to feel a book's weight and form, turn its pages, take in its aroma of inky woodiness and marvel at its parade of colour.
Thankfully, I captured this reaction on my phone for those who feel like witnessing pure joy!
For those who don't have a spare three minutes - the good news was that the books were in the correct language, right-way-up, the colours matched our files and the quality was flawless. In short, they looked amazing.
To clarify the situation: at this stage the printer had printed our full order and the advance copies came from that print run. So it would have taken a disaster for that print run not to be shipped to us. At this stage, if we had found a small flaw in the book's design or if we hated the paper stock, it would be too late to change our minds. So we were happy that our careful research and planning had resulted in no surprises on those fronts!
And so we quickly approved the next stage of the printing process: shipping our full order.
Shipping is a complex, intimidating world...
Of all the parts of the publishing process, understanding the most cost-effective and stress-free way to get our print order from Hong Kong to Auckland proved to be the hardest to fathom.
And to be completely honest, it's a puzzle I am still working hard to decipher. From what I can see, those that govern the world of freight logistics have - like the justice system - crafted their own language to define its bounds and, simultaneously, erect a financially-lucrative wall between consumers and operators. Prices seem to vary wildly, day-to-day. Acronyms like FOB, DAP and CIF abound, as do a whole world of fees, tariffs and surcharges that no publicly-available resource can explain or predict.
In short, to save ourselves time, energy and any potential stress-inducing hiccups, we went with the printer's in-house shipping option to have the order shipped directly to an Auckland address. One smart move - which saved us a $250 fee - was having a forklift available at our delivery address to offload the pallet from the truck - thanks to the good folks at Total Property Worx!
Air freight was never an option as the cost is exorbitant, so the slow boat from Hong Kong was our only friend. A mind-blowing part of that experience was being told which boat the books were on, and then using online-tracking websites to follow its progress.The sheer amount of ships at any one time around the many ports in Asia makes the channels and harbours seem to flow like blood-cells through arteries.
Fortunately, amidst a reportedly-mad pre-Christmas season, our ship experienced no delays and I rejoiced in watching it float first to Australia's east coast, before making its way to Auckland. In total, the journey took 19 days and I got so excited about the whole experience that I drove to Cheltenham Beach to watch the boat enter the harbour...
13 days later our pallet of books was delivered into our hands. One instant realisation, that now seems ludicrous, was that our 500 books - at a weight of 214kgs - took up a lot less place than expected and I was easily able to load them off the pallet and into a regular car with ease.
Somehow, beyond all expectations, the process to to print and ship our books to Aotearoa was an incredibly smooth one. We were now ready to set up our mini distribution centre and get busy packing and sending off books to our amazing pre-order customers. Our next blog will shed some light on what was another steep learning curve: order fulfillment and local distribution.