NBN International: Who are they?

Let’s cut to the chase - when you say the word “warehouse” you’re unlikely to set many hearts a flutter. You’re actually more likely to conjure up images of giant dull grey boxes in far-flung industrial estates, filled with nondescript sundries going who-knows-where, surrounded by the workaday trappings of that most yawn-inducing of terms: “global logistics”.

At NBN International our warehouse isn’t quite like that. In fact one of the things visitors say most often is that it’s like “a bibliophile’s dream”, books upon books of all descriptions neatly racked and ready to be despatched somewhere in the world at a moment’s notice. And a love of books usually runs deep in our guests – most of them are publishers after all. A trip up the steps to our mezzanine where an unobstructed bird’s eye view awaits usually results in a breathless “wow”, and that’s before they’ve even seen the majority of our millions of units stored away in bulk.

Efficiency is the name of the game in warehousing. Ours is run by a series of always busy departments simultaneously carrying out different but vital tasks, all of which is overseen by our veteran Warehouse Manager Neil Talliss. Books start their journey with us via Goods In, where new deliveries are carefully checked against paperwork before being allocated a warehouse location ready for picking and packing.

Most of our orders now arrive electronically and are transmitted straight to the warehouse floor, where a team of pickers await the location of each title in in a process not unlike the Dewey Decimal system at your local library. Once they’ve collated all of the books for a particular order they’ll pass those over to our packing team who will in turn carefully wrap and box the books. Then it’s a quick trip down a conveyor belt, where they await collection daily by one of our courier partners. From there they might end up literally anywhere across the globe. If you’re reading this now and you have an ACC Publishing distributed book on your shelf there’s a good chance it came to us first.

At 18:00 we welcome in a night shift who will toil away into the wee hours, and their main task is to replenish all of the stock that needs to be picked from our high bay locations. When most people are safely tucked up in bed these guys are hard at work in forklifts that reach many feet into the air, retrieving stock by the pallet load.

Alas, there is a section of the warehouse where damaged and out of print books go to die (or, more accurately, to be recycled). This is always the part that breaks the hearts of our visitors, and they usually scour through the titles to see if they can find one of their own in the hopes of personally saving it from the chipper. We do explain that the vast majority of returned stock goes straight back on the shelves, as long as it’s in tip-top condition.

One other thing people comment on is how congenial our warehouse is, something we’re proud to say comes from the quality of our people. Many of our warehouse staff have been serving us faithfully for decades, and while we figure that means we must be doing something right we also know that the success of our company is grounded in all their hard work.

So next time you’re passing a warehouse somewhere stop and give it a second thought. It might just be a huge shed stuffed with uninteresting things that can’t be stored elsewhere. But there’s also a chance that, like ours, it might be a busy hub of conscientious, well-humoured people carrying out the stellar task of distributing important (and in the case of ACC Publishing, beautiful) things all over planet Earth. That’s a warehouse worth imagining.


By Matt Devereux at NBN International