Our building here at Eerdmans is typically quite a quiet place. Publishing careers tend to attract the more introverted sorts, content most of the time to type diligently away at our desks or pore meticulously over proofs.
But every once in a while we’ll have a special occasion that will shake things up—and we had one of those last month, with the chance to host two groups of students from an elementary school just down the road from us.
The school was celebrating reading month, and they wanted students to get an even deeper appreciation for books by learning a bit more about how books are made—how a story goes from an author’s words on a page to a finished book in a bookstore.
The students got an interactive tour of what we do here at Eerdmans. They started by looking at a number of manuscripts, and working together in groups to think about what manuscript might make the best book. They then presented their case to a tough and savvy publishing committee (played by our very own Rachel Bomberger), where they learned about some of the factors we consider when contracting books.
Once the students had gotten a project greenlighted, they came down to our EBYR workspace for a look at the different stages of the book publishing process. They got to see an edited manuscript, the artists’ sketches and dummies, the many sets of page proofs each book will go through, the printer’s proofs, and the F&Gs (unbound “folded and gathered” books) that we use for promotion.
After that, we took the students out to our warehouse to see where all the books are stored before they are shipped out to bookstores, schools, and libraries around the country.
The tour ended with a stop in our bookstore and a read-aloud for students to see how the manuscript they’d chosen turned out in its final book form.
Here at EBYR, we spend our days making books for children. It was a thrill to be able to bring some of those readers in, and let them take a closer look at how we make books, and introduce them to some of the many people who make that process happen.
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Kathleen Merz is managing editor for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Read her From the Editor’s Desk column—packed with editorial insight and behind-the-scenes info on Eerdmans books—one Thursday a month here on Eerdling