Book Publishing Operations: On The Road Again

24 Jul

This week finds me in Harlingen, Texas, to meet with faculty and staff at Texas State Technical College Harlingen. Once again I took a school vehicle, this time courtesy of TSTC Waco Recruiting Services, that I call The Behemoth, Jr.

Harlingen truck

On the way down, as always, I had to stop in briefly at Half Price Books on North Lamar in Austin, Texas. Other than that, though, it was almost seven solid hours on the road to get here from Waco. The older I get—more out of shape and slower metabolism—the more trips like this wear me out.

It was, however, another productive shopping experience at Half Price Books. Ostensibly I was going to check out some children’s and YA (young adult) books for projects we’re thinking about getting in the works. Instead, I never made it much past the “books about books” section. Fifteen minutes after entering the store—and $43 charged on the credit card later—I was leaving with my latest haul: Penguin Special: The Story of Allen Lane, the Founder of Penguin Books and the Man Who Changed Publishing Forever, The Oxford University Press: An Informal History, History of the Book, The Owl Among Colophons – Henry Holt As Publsiher And Editor, and Novel History: Historians and Novelists Confront America’s Past (and Each Other). In addition, I found a copy of All The Beautiful Sinners by Stephen Graham Jones, an old grad school cohort who writes and teaches English up at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Plus, last but not least, I found The Best of Playboar for my wife, who has a real fascination with pigs.

As for traveling, it’s a necessary part of the job but it is something I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s nice to get out of the office and go visit with people about books and meet with authors with whom we have projects in the works. On the other hand, due to the factors I mentioned above, it’s a real battle for me to keep the pounds off and stay in some semblance of shape. So, there are several things I do whenever I can on the road to be as healthy as possible.

First, I usually bring my own food so that I’m not constantly eating out.

Harlingen mini fridge

Ah, yes, nothing beats hanging out in your hotel room eating Lean Cuisine and Amy’s dinners along with HEB vegetable egg rolls. Add some Hill Country Fare granola bars, reduced fat Triskits, diet Twist, and Coke Vanilla Zero and you’ve got it made!

Plus, to steer clear of the free breakfasts most places offer—fried bacon, pastries, biscuits and gravy—I even bring my own coffee to make in the room.

Harlingen coffee maker

Finally, this morning I went down to the exercise room here to get on the demon elliptical trainer.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on so, for the first time in my life, I got on a treadmill. Part of me was worried that—like many movies I’ve seen—I would go flying off the back of it. An even bigger part of me was worried that I would do this and—given that there was a big window into the hallway with the elevator doors right across from it—look like a complete idiot in front of the never-ending stream of people getting on and off the elevator. Once you reach a certain age, however, a well-developed sense of shame isn’t going to help you so you just have to soldier on to do what needs to be done. Anyway, 41 minutes and 422 burned calories later, I staggered up to my room to grab some breakfast, get cleaned up, and head over to the TSTC Harlingen campus.


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