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With the holiday season heating up, Thomson-Shore and the University of California Press are working closely together to make sure that the season's sleeper hit—The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, edited by the Mark Twain Project at the University of California–Berkeley—reaches eager, and anxious, booksellers before Christmas.

"They will get hold of the book," insisted Reagan Borton, marketing manager at Thomson-Shore, a medium-sized, wholly employee-owned, book manufacturer headquartered in Dexter, Mich. "We're doing all that we can to keep up with the demand. We're receiving [purchase orders] from the press and have met those P.O.s. In some cases, we've been shipping books early."

The 38-year-old company, which is more accustomed to short and medium print runs averaging 4,000 copies for university, trade, and religious publishers, has been working at maximum capacity this past month to meet an unexpected demand by consumers for the 736-page tome, which was released November 15. Thomson-Shore's entire staff of 220 has been working overtime on that and other projects, with approximately 70 employees dedicated to working exclusively on Mark Twain. The company has even rented additional space to store the huge amounts of paper required. "It's not a staffing issue, it's a capacity issue," Borton said, disclosing that Thomson-Shore recently rehired employees laid off in 2009, as well as temporary workers, to fill all three shifts.

Since its first print run of 50,000 copies, Mark Twain has gone back to press seven times, for a total of 350,000 copies. Thomson-Shore is printing the last, 100,000-copy print run in batches of 30,000, as its presses can typically handle only 50,000 copies of a book per run. Due to the book's size and the high quality of its production values, POD is not an option to supply some titles in a hurry. "We don't want to push them through so fast that the books fall apart in booksellers' hands," Borton said.

Besides renting additional space to store the huge quantities of paper, Thomson-Shore has rented large trailers to deliver 10,000 copies in each load to the University of California Press's distribution centers in California and New Jersey. "With these trailers, they can deliver about 2,000 more than on standard trailers," explained Laura Cerruti, the University of California Press's director of digital content development and sponsoring editor for the press's Mark Twain program, who has worked directly with the Mark Twain Project on the book for the past eight years. After delivery to the press's distribution centers, the books are transferred directly from the loading docks onto trucks taking the books to booksellers and other customers.

While it's not business-as-usual these days at the company's plant, this isn't the first time Thomson-Shore has had to immediately ratchet up production to meet huge demand. Five years ago, after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, Ignatius Press, a Catholic press in San Francisco that's Ratzinger's English-language book publisher, was swamped with orders. "All of our existing stock of books was sold out within hours," recalled Carolyn R. Lemon, Ignatius Press's production editor, who praised Thomson-Shore in an e-mailed statement for successfully meeting the demands placed on them to immediately both reprint existing Ratzinger titles and to accelerate production on new releases by him—24 titles in all. Nine of those titles were among Amazon's top 10 bestsellers the day after Ratzinger was elected pope.

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