Encounters in Publishing #7: The Woes of Summer Fridays, by Liz Mathews

There is a phenomenon in book publishing called summer hours, or half-day Fridays. If you work in publishing, you might be aware of it upon entering the industry, or it might come as a nice surprise perk to an otherwise pretty straightforward work environment. It’s also a nice thing to hold over the head of others who don’t have their Friday hours slashed in half from Memorial Day to Labor Day—if, for some reason, you need something to hold over another’s head.

Truth be told, I use most half-day Fridays to do my laundry. Some people do fun things like go to the beach, though, so we don’t all waste them.

The downside of half-day Fridays is that, at least at my company, we have to work longer hours every other day of the workweek to make up for them. This means arriving fifteen minutes earlier than “normal,” and staying a half-hour later. Which for me means getting to work fifteen minutes earlier than my previous fifteen minutes late, so really I’m getting to work on time for the non-summer schedule, and staying a half-hour later attempting to do work, instead of just staying that much later because I have time to kill before an evening engagement. You could say my schedule hasn’t changed that much, and you would mostly be right.

Except that an extra thirty minutes of actual working at the end of the day is possibly going to be the end of us all. This past Thursday marked the fourth day on the summer hour schedule, and by our 3:30 afternoon weekly meeting, we were beat. The meeting part of the meeting happened within the first five minutes (which I missed, due to doing other actual work), and then, for the next hour and a half, most of us gathered in the conference discussed weekend plans and movies and television and how we openly did not want to go back to our offices. Hairstyles of various Game of Thrones characters came up. Plans for Arrested Development viewing parties were discussed. Older movies about evil, awful women found mention, as did whether or not the new Great Gatsby film was worth seeing.

When we all realized what time it was, and that we’d sat idly for so long, most of us grudgingly rose from the conference table and trudged back to our desks. Our attitudes for work were matched perfectly by the sheets of rain falling outside.

And then 6pm came. And then, when Friday started, we all joyously left at 1pm, carefully not mentioning or thinking about the time we’d spent the day before making our salary but not earning it.


Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.