Today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of my first day at what I used to call the reference book factory. I can’t call it that now, since the company is doing its damnedest to become a digital educational resource company. It turns out, though, that I am still doing books. My department “typesets” books, which is to say, creates Adobe PDFs that a printer can create books from. No molten lead here; at least we’ve come that far in my little corner. (I actually described it in LJ about a year ago. There was even a photo of my workstation.) The next department over acts as liaison with the printers, so they’re mostly immersed in the dead tree world too. One of my coworkers says we’re down in the dinosaur exhibit, as opposed to all the people upstairs who are busily bending data into pixels.
Before I started doing book composition, I project-managed books (and a couple of electronic product data sets); all the part of production from just after conception to typesetting. We used to call that “editing” but then we started outsourcing almost anything editorial and the job became mostly phone calls and e-mails and tracking spreadsheets. That’s part of why I switched jobs. But it’s not that book composition was a poor second choice. It’s actually the part of producing a reference that I always liked the best. The content of the book is set, and you’re just putting it in the best form of presentation; there are rules for that, which I kind of “got” pretty easily. Sadly, we don’t keyline anything anymore; I used to be hella good at that, but being good at keylining is about as useful as being a skilled buggy-whip maker, nowadays.
This isn’t really a significant anniversary, unless you’re big on multiples of three. Two years ago was a big anniversary, but I had other concerns — my mom’s health, my dead furnace, and falling way behind at work on an editing project, of all things. It didn’t even really get observed at work. For the company-wide meeting held in December, they mentioned three colleagues who had reached a quarter-century of service. My start date was two weeks too late to be included with them, and they never repeated that feature at future company meetings. Sucks to be me. But I did eventually get a nice videocamera as an anniversary reward. Who needs notoriety when you can have shiny new toys?
In this day of employment uncertainty, who knows how many more anniversaries I’ll see. But as long as they don’t tell me not to come, I’ll keep making books for them.