In March, Tommi and I visited Toronto on our way from the UK to the AAAL and TESOL conferences in Dallas. Not only is Toronto (surprisingly, to me, as my Geography is a bit patchy) a logical rest-stop en route, but it is also home to our North American book distributor, UTP, and several of our authors.
UTP are in charge of shipping books to all our customers in Canada and the USA and so we have daily contact with at least one of our colleagues, Smita, Dolores, Carol and Hamish, and the rest of the team, who work there. I have been working at Multilingual Matters for a couple of years now, so I was very excited to visit a place which I’ve had so much contact with, but not visited in person. For Tommi, it was more a case of catching up with old friends!
On arrival at UTP, and after meeting everyone, Carol took us on a tour of the warehouse, so I could understand exactly what happens when our orders arrive. We saw how the orders are processed, from the receipt of the order from the customer, right up to the book leaving the door, packed and ready for shipment. I particularly enjoyed finding our books on the shelves as we walked through the warehouse and spotting a packer unpacking a box of returned books that I had sent back from the NABE conference in February.
Smita then showed me how she deals with the different types of requests I send on to her, such as sending inspection/desk copies to lecturers and inputting new titles into the system. We happened to receive a couple of emails from Ellie, who was in our office in Bristol at the time, so Smita had some genuine examples of her work to show me.
Apart from visiting UTP, Tommi and I also went to meet Alister Cumming and his graduate students at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). They were spending the day discussing their forthcoming presentations at AAAL and during the lunch break, Tommi and I were able to give a talk about publishing their research both with us in particular, and general advice about what is appropriate for publication as a book, and what is better suited for publication as journal articles. It was great for us to meet everyone and hear about what they are working on, and hope that they found our session of interest.
We thoroughly enjoyed spending our evenings in Toronto with Merrill Swain, Penny Kinnear and Linda Steinman, authors of Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education; long-standing publisher friends of Multilingual Matters, Jonathan and Dorothea Lovat Dickson, of Pippin Press; and Greg Poarch, who has recently moved to York University, Toronto. Tommi and I were definitely spoilt with excellent company and delicious food throughout the week, and we’re already looking forward to our return to Toronto, which we hope will be before the city hosts AAAL in 2015.