Our day at Clays

The second book from JD Fennell, Sleeper: The Red Storm, is out on Thursday 24th May in hardback (paperback to follow in October) and to celebrate, we decided to take JD to see his book being printed at Clays in Diss, Norfolk.

One of the first places we visited was the ink room - fair warning, the scent is heady in this one - and it was fascinating. Pantone are bringing out new colours all the time and thanks to Clays running like a - mostly literal - well-oiled machine, every colour you could imagine is available, stored and labelled correctly.

Here's JD trying out a pot of ink that it actually used to make light colours even lighter; its appearance is deceptive!

Clays use huge reams of paper on which to print. They are fed in to a big machine, two at a time, and printed on using the plates which the text is initially stamped on to.

The paper - which has now been cut down considerably - is then run through another part of the machine, which folds it up (unfolded it might remind you of a broadsheet!) and once this has been done enough times to make up the whole book, it is ready for glueing!

The warehouse that Clays use to store all the books in before they are shopped off to various distributors and bookshops etc. is mammoth and all pre-programmed so that the small crane-like machines, that move the books from the ground to the shelves, know exactly where to place them. It's mind-bogglingly clever.

Once the books are glued together (or "bound"), they are run through a machine which slices off the ends so that the edges are the nice, clean ones that you get on picking up a book in a bookshop.

Our last stop was seeing the hardback for Sleeper: The Red Storm, being boarded (the effective "hard" bit of the "hardback" going on the book) and wrapped in the jacket. This is all pretty much one machine that does this (there is even a stage that folds the jacket in the appropriate places so it covers the book the way it is supposed to).

Right at the end of the book-wrapping stage, JD decided that he would write a message in the very first book that came out finished - if you find it, make sure you let us know!

Thank you for having us, Clays!

To read more about Sleeper: The Red Storm, visit here.

You can pre-order Goldsboro Books' signed copy here.

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