Off To A Warehouse

Yesterday I had a nice little trip outside of London to Basingstoke.  Why there I hear you all ask – well, I went to visit a warehouse, the warehouse that my book will be distributed from.  MacMillian Distribution to be precise – the people that handle the Harry Potter books.

Clare and Heather - I rarely get to spend time with two lovely young ladies like these.I went along with two of the editors from The Friday Project, Clare and Heather who are as lovely as they look.

To be honest, a lot of what was talked about went over my head, MIDAS and Vista are apparently some electronic way to order books, although that is just a guess on my part.

The real fun for me however started when we saw the server room – I’m enough of a geek that I had a small ‘nerdgasm’ over seeing two miniframes running in a heavily air-conditioned room and hearing about their off-site backup and disaster recovery procedures.

We were then shown the warehouse floor, where there are absolute tonnes of books all being moved around by forklift trucks.  It is here that the books are stored until they are sorted out into the orders that are shipped out to various shops.Absolutely huge numbers of books

Did you know that if you ship a wooden pallet of books abroad it has to have been impregnated with an insecticide?

And did you know that China won’t accept any wooden pallets at all – they all have to be made of plastic.

I also discovered that prison labour is used to process any returned books, and that recycled books are used to build motorways.  Yes – motorways are partly made of paper (which might explain a lot about the state of the UK’s roads).

The book sorting machineWe saw the system that they use to make sure that every book reaches it’s right destination (they weigh every book in their catalogue, then weigh the boxes as they go out – if there is a discrepancy then the box is re-checked).

Luckily we avoided the busiest time to tour the warehouse, all the forklift drivers were having lunch – otherwise we would have been dodging between these pallets being moved around at high speed.

I learnt about the way that Weatherstones orders books, and why they might not have a book you want in stock (apparently it’s called ‘C’ stock, which means that they only have one copy in stock at a time – and it takes three days to order a new copy).

It was great – it felt like a school trip.

One day my book will be hereHere is the thing though – at some point in July, one of those pallets is going to be full of my books – with my book title on the pallet sheet, and with my words written on bits of paper inside the shrink wrapped container.  Then they will travel down the conveyer belt where they will get sealed into boxes and sent on their way to bookshops around the country (where I shall be obsessive-compulsively rearranging the shelves to make sure my book is at the front…)

It makes me feel weird in my tummy.

(Oh – and when they are due to be released they don’t keep the new Harry Potter books in Basingstoke – it’s in a top secret location and they have security guards sitting on top of them…)

Back to the real world of ambulance work tonight.


All pictures can be seen in Hi-res on my Flickr Page.

25 thoughts on “Off To A Warehouse”

  1. Damn. Must find top secret harry potter books location and must tempt security guards with…um…something!

  2. Reminds me of the factory tour bit on the Why Bird Stop on Playbus…(oh god, did I really just say that…)

  3. Not sad at all, I went to Bletchley Park they have a room full of historic computers…. I remember most of them well (have been in computing toooooo long).I notice that if you follow the link to the friday project, they have a 'coming soon' section… in August 2006 Blood, Sweat and Tea – Real-life stories from the London Ambulance Service by Tom…. Nice cover and like the title, though shame that Random Acts of Reality doesn't appear on the front cover.


  4. You want a trip for a nerd, visit the sequencer rooms and server rooms at the Sanger Center. They have banks upon banks upon banks of people-tall boxes, each full of racks of superfast computers. The cabling between them is as thick as your arm (well, maybe just my arm). The airconditioner to keep that one room cool is itself the size of a room. By running flat out, all the time, it keeps it down to merely warm in there, and it has its own backup generator because if it ever lost power for a few minutes, the computers would heat up immediately and all crash, losing the human genome.I know just what you mean about the sense of awe known only to nerds when looking at something like that.

  5. As someone with a penchant for writing various things I can appreciate the whole shock and nerdgasm of it… how do we preorder a signed copy πŸ˜‰

  6. Ooh, looks pretty cool :)I actually came on here to say thank you for not deleting your archives so I could get the 24 ringtone back onto my phone. I knew I had heard it on here somewhere, but thankfully you have a search button or I would have been here all night. So again…THANK YOU YOU STAR MR REYNOLDS πŸ™‚ XXX

  7. Just wait until your book hits the stands. Then that promise of giving up drink will be on it's arse. Good luck. Looking forward to the book.

  8. Coincidentally, an online book search of the website credits a person named Tom Reynolds with authoring I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs Youve Ever Heard.

  9. Good on ya Tom….although I definitely think the 'no alcohol' thing will be shot to pot as soon as you receive your advance copy – and quite rightly so – it would be rude not to celebrate appropriately!

  10. Sorry to say this tom, but i just tried to picture what a “nerdgasm” looks like and i've gone a bit wierd in the tummy myself. and not in a good way…

  11. Bad roads in Britain? You lot don't know you're born! I thought UK roads were bad… then I emmigrated to Michigan. They don't fill potholes until someoe flips a truck on them, and then they do it by shovelling a bit of tarmac of the back of a moving truck.

  12. Hi TomLooking forward to the book, and will give it a big plug….. but why, oh why is it not called Random Acts of Reality? This has to be the greatest and most imaginative title … is it not commercial?


  13. Yes, it's for commercial reasons – There are two people who will buy the book. Those who read the blog (and who will hopefully buy it no matter the title), then there are those who have no idea what a blog is but who stumble over the book in a bookshop. The idea is to give them a better idea of what the book is about.Of course, at the moment there is a big picture of an ambulance on the front, although that may change…

  14. Waterstones, not Weatherstones! And to think I just ordered another half-dozen of your books for our shop πŸ˜‰

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