A Visit to a Remarkable Printery
THE magazine you are reading may not be the first issue of this journal that you have seen. Perhaps Jehovah’s Witnesses have visited your home and offered The Watchtower and Awake! to help you understand the Bible better. Or maybe you have seen the Witnesses offering such Bible literature on the street or at a local marketplace. In fact, the monthly circulation of this journal is in excess of 35 million, making it by far the most widely published magazine of its kind in the world.
Have you ever wondered, though, where and how all this literature is produced? To answer, let us take a look at just one of the many printeries that Jehovah’s Witnesses use in various lands—the one in Wallkill, New York, U.S.A. Many of our readers around the world cannot readily travel to visit the printery that Jehovah’s Witnesses operate in the United States, so this tour by means of words and pictures may be the next-best thing.
Of course, printing starts with the written word. The Graphics Department receives material to be printed via electronic files from the Writing Department in Brooklyn, New York. These files are used to make printing plates. In Wallkill, every month some 1,400 rolls of paper arrive at the printery, which uses some 80 to 100 tons of paper a day. The rolls—some of which weigh over 3,000 pounds—are fed onto five web-offset presses, which have been fitted with the printing plates. The paper is printed, slit, and folded into 32-page signatures. The magazine you are reading is one signature. What about books? In the bindery, the signatures are bound together to produce books. One of the two bindery lines can produce 50,000 hardcover books or 75,000 softcover books in a single day. The other bindery line can produce about 100,000 softcover books per day.
During 2008, this printery produced well over 28,000,000 books, over 2.6 million of those being Bibles. In the same period, 243,317,564 magazines were produced. The printery stocks such Bible literature in some 380 languages. Once literature is made, what happens next?
The printery receives requests from the 12,754 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the continental United States and 1,369 in the Caribbean and Hawaii. The Shipping Department packages all these requested items and arranges transport to the appropriate addresses. Each year, some 30 million pounds [14 million kilos] of literature are shipped to congregations in the United States.
The most important element of this printery involves, not machines, but people. Over 300 work in the printery departments—Graphics, Scheduling, the Pressroom, the Bindery, and the Shipping Department. The workers—all of them unsalaried volunteers—range in age from 19 to 92.
They are keenly interested in people—the individuals who will receive this literature eagerly and be taught, uplifted, and guided by the Bible principles discussed therein. We hope that you are among such readers and that the literature printed here helps you to continue taking in the knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, which means everlasting life.—John 17:3.
[Pictures on page 16]
[Full-page picture on page 17]