book covers and interiors, detached from each other.

The Solo Stapler and the Case of the Backwards Covers

I’ve thought about a bunch of funny ways to start this post, but I don’t think there’s anything funnier than just saying it:

I transposed the front and back cover on a book I just printed, Xenovore.

TLDR: The problem is fixed now, and all Xenovore pre-orders have been shipped out.

The printer I used — which is excellent and I have no complaints about! — has a web-based interface where you can drag and drop pages to change their order. While uploading a correction, I must have swapped the front and back cover.

The books arrived, and I eagerly opened the first box to find the front cover on the back, and vice-versa. "Damn! That’s fucking weird!" I thought, and I looked at the second book in the box. It was identical. "That’s a heck of a binding mistake to make twice. I’ll open another box and see what it’s like."

Then I snapped into reality: the cover wasn’t upside down, which it would be if this was a binding mistake.

I opened the web interface, and confirmed: the front cover was the back cover, the back cover was the front cover, and I had hit the big ole "Approve!" checkbox. It was my fault; which means it’s up to me to fix it.

Reprint the whole thing? Well, that doubles our costs, and produces a lot of waste. That’s not punk.

I fired off an email to the printer: "Can you reprint me just the covers?" "No." "Can you print me a booklet and not staple the covers on?" "No." This printer’s automated systems are great, but not that flexible.

Thankfully, we’d just completed our fourth Nano Op: All That Glitters. I packed it with the first three Nano Ops to make an 8 page zine. I put the Xenovore cover on that zine in the correct order and triple checked it. I sent it to press, with overnight shipping. This is project Xenovore Cover Fix. Then I ordered myself a stapler, 5000 staples, and several staple removers.

10 days later … book covers and interiors, detached from each other.

A few days after that, I had shipped all of the Xenovore pre-orders! My workflow:

  1. Remove the staples from several hundred copies of Xenovore, storing them interior down with the covers not yet fully removed. These are Good Interiors.
  2. Remove the staples from several hundred copies of Xenovore Cover Fix. These covers were piled up, as were the 8 page Nano Op ‘zines. These are Good Covers.
  3. Stack up a ton of the Good Covers, then one-by-one take a Good Interior, slide it into place, flip the whole arrangement over and staple it twice. Flip it over again and fold it closed more tightly, then put it in the Fixed Books box.
  4. When I had enough Fixed Books to cover all of the single-book pre-orders, I set up to pack them up and get them shipped out. Getting a bunch of them out the door would improve my mood a lot, not to mention cleaning my workspace up!
  5. After this I looped back to #3, building enough books for all the multi-book/mixed-book orders, and also a batch to send on to Atlas Games to cover copies they will ship out in the near future.

I’m not finished yet. I have a stack of books still to re-bind, and at some point I’ll print round of project Xenovore Cover Fix — with a different ‘zine interior — to handle them.

I’d appreciate you checking out Xenovore. It’s a great adventure, and I worked extra-hard on it.

The book cover; a man captured by a yellow sluglike thing.

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