Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SB Insider: Two times two equals ten

First impressions: “Two times two equals ten.”

I had no idea where he was going with this when Savas Beatie’s managing director Theodore P. Savas first said it. I’ll admit, after a couple of hours as an exclusive observer (a 16-year-old summer intern, actually) of the Savas Beatie publishing environment, I’m still not completely sure what he meant. (Stay tuned later in the week for an explanation.) Nevertheless, I do know a lot more about what goes on in a publishing company than I did before I walked into this quaint little office in El Dorado Hills, an upscale and quiet suburb east of Sacramento, California.

This morning I was fretting about what I should wear to my first day of work. I envisioned an office with briefcase-carrying, business-suit adorned men and women typing away and answering calls in their cubicles. I didn’t think anything I owned was nearly formal enough. Nor did I imagine that I would be doing anything other than licking envelopes and filing papers.

What a surprise I was in for . . . not a cubicle in sight! I have my own work area: a big round conference table stacked with various Savas Beatie books, a green plant in the corner (there are many of these in the office; I’ll get back to you about whether or not they’re real), and a large whiteboard keeping track of future books by title, author, genre, publishing date, editor, and so forth.

I didn’t expect to see all these bookshelves and book displays. I’ll admit in the back of my mind I was hoping I’d glimpse one of those old-style printing presses in some lonely room. There are a lot of Civil War paintings adorning the not unattractive beige walls, and a “300” Spartan movie poster in Mr. Savas’ office. I guess I should have expected so much, considering it is a historical book publishing company.

Overview: So, eight to ten books each season (publishing seasons are fall and spring), a lot of marketing, and some shipping (most books ship from a central warehouse outside Washington, D.C.) Not too big of a place. . . several offices and lots of open space, with four people working today when I first came in. No one gets bored here.

Interesting books: After looking around at the bookshelves and stacks throughout the office, one book that jumped out at me was Larry Tagg’s The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln. Who knew “Honest Abe” wasn’t venerated by his contemporaries!?

Today’s big events:

  • A little bit of concern over whether or not J. David Petruzzi’s signed copies of The Complete Gettysburg Guide were sent out. (Don’t worry, it’s all settled now, and they are going out tonight.)
  • We got a call from Manassas National Park about Bradley M. Gottfried’s new The Maps of First Bull Run, which they just started carrying. We are working with the buyer on positioning the book in their store and setting up a time for the author to sign copies around the battle anniversary.
I am looking forward to tomorrow . . . and finding out why two times two isn’t (always) four . . .
- Parul


Anonymous said...

This is really interesting! Thanks for doing this and I am going to check back for each update. Ms. Parul you are interning for a really good company that publishes the best books around. I just finished Tagg's Lincoln and it was really eye-opening. I liked it more than DKGoodwin's Team of Rivals. Have a great summer.


Larry Tagg said...

I am looking forward to meeting the remarkable Ms. Guliani when I come into the office tomorrow. Her first post is very elegant.
Thanks to you, Parul, for mentioning an interest in my book--and thank you, too, Marty!