After hours

May 23rd, 2014, 6pm

It was 17.2°C with few clouds. There was moderate breeze.

“Go hoooome,” Stephen says, passing by my desk. “You can finish that next week.”

“I’m at 43,” I answer. (43 titles to go.)

See, I’d been busy with intern things (whee) and my task since last week was to update the website with upcoming Fall releases. A lot of backend web things and data entering and book cover polishing and resizing. A lot of ISBN comparing and double-checking. Main Chronicle Books titles, plus those from Laurence King Publishing and Princeton Architectural Press, add up to around 248 titles. (I have a little countdown.)

“43?! That’s amazing! Go hoooooome.”

“But wait. I have to leave it at 40. I have OCD and can’t leave it at 43…”

“43 is a prime number. Prime numbers are good. 43 is good. Go home.”

“Yeaaah, but…”

He shakes his head, smiling. “Well, don’t go home too late.” he says, walking away.

The actual job I do here isn’t what matters — my eyes hurt by the end of the day just staring at backend things and making sure ISBNs are correct, not to mention the fact that I already want almost half of PAPress’ Fall releases… (if they paid me in books I’d probably be okay with that too.) It’s all temporary anyway, at least while I’m in grad school. I’m here for the people, the vibe, the wonderful familiar buzz of a publishing house: books, books, books everywhere. People still reading books on their lunch break. Email blasts to all employees on the status of books in bestsellers’ lists, sales people looking for book samples, free food in the kitchen.

Even certain employees have free lending libraries in their cubicles. In their cubicles! (And love that they’re labeled like the ones you see on the street.)

And don’t get me started on the free table. Old titles, tons of Moleskine notebooks, samples, mockups galore. (Must. control. inner. hoarder.)

Honestly? I moved to San Francisco for a chance to work here. I remember going through some of my favorite books, amazed that they all had the same set of spectacles on the spines — it was always, “Chronicle Books, San Francisco”. And so I went back to grad school, because they only take recent graduates for their yearly Design Fellowships.

Crazy? Perhaps. I was, ironically, getting so burned out at my previous publishing job, dreaming of another publishing job miles away. My three years of being Creative Editor, now back to Intern. Funny, isn’t it? And that’s intern in the Marketing department and not the design department (well… fellowships!) — instead of designing, I’m cropping and doublechecking and distributing.

But just yesterday, Stephen wandered over to my desk. “Okay, I have something a little more exciting for you.”


“We need some banners designed. That’s something you can do, right? For the top… oh, wait, go to the website.”

Now we’re talking.


Note: I’ve since finished up my internship at Chronicle, and Stephen has gone on to work at the awesome Mule Design. Saw this moment filed under my drafts and realized I had finished it a long time ago. Sigh. Can’t quite say if I still dream of working at Chronicle, but for sure, publishing will always be my first love. ;)

Yiling, Shu, Michael, Pamela and 10 others said thanks.

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Christine Herrin

Designer. History major. Memory keeper, paper hoarder, frequent flyer.

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