The little reminder in the back of my head that whispers every time I see or experience something neat-o which I know “bookies” would find interesting. I suppose the most recent memorable event for me occurred just last week. I had the great honor of attending the National Book Awards hosted by Faith Salie. Faith is a television and national public radio host, political and pop culture commentator; she’s probably the only Rhodes scholar who’s been a standup comedian. Faith did an outstanding job and really moved things along nicely but with a ton of wit and witticisms. She was spectacular!
I was fortunate enough to sit at Dave Eggers table and was just thrilled to be a part of the scene. Dave was nominated for his fabulous book A Hologram for the King, published by McSweeney’s. I am so inspired by writers and their ability to tell a story in such a way to captivate so many. Dave does this so well in Hologram; an amazing talent!
I also had a chance to listen to another writer some weeks ago discuss her journey while writing Dancing on Broken Glass. Ka Hancock described not only her process of writing her novel, which was indeed rigorous but I was amazed to hear that it took her years from her initial submission to a publisher until it was ready for the public. I was really impressed with the process she and her publisher worked through to refine the book and rewrite and rethink the story line. Her book was released in March and quickly became a tremendous hit. Her book is sitting on my desk waiting for the holiday to break it open.
My day is primarily consumed with all things related to reproducing content and I focus on the process and the physical attributes of that content. At the moment however I am awe struck by those who conceive of the ideas and labor for years to bring it to life. I’m just happy to be a part of it all!
The latest “scoop” on inkjet from my perspective is a whole lot of hoopla. In fact, inkjet conjures up visions of a favorite SpongeBob episode my kids absolutely LOVE!
After all the talk about any new print technology, for me it comes down to 3 big things: 1) Is it faster? 2) Is it cheaper? 3) Most importantly… Is the quality equal to, better than or worst case is the quality adequate given the potential benefits of question #1 and #2?
In my opinion the answer for all 3 of these questions for inkjet is still a resounding… NO. Get your hands on some samples and be the judge…. I think we are at least 2-3 years away from a technology that will make the cut when you ask the 3 big questions: faster? cheaper? better?
We were presented with a great opportunity for one of our customers who is publishing a graphic novel. They needed a SUPER rich black to fill full-bleed 8.5”X11” pages. We pulled out an old trick used mostly in commercial printing companies. We employed the ol’ “double-bump”. This technique is also commonly referred to as a “touch plate”.
Essentially this is a technique used to hit a large solid area of ink with 2 applications of ink. Often the first hit is a screened version of the second hit so you don’t get a build up of too much ink. The effect is spectacularly deep colors. In the case of this graphic novel it was the right tool for the job and the publisher loves it. We generated a black at least 3-4 times more rich than with a single hit of black ink.
Making print books relevant in an increasingly “e” world is a challenge for our industry. I came across this marketing campaign for JZ’s recent title Decoded and I was really blown away. Talk about using social media to energize print sales… awesome!
Disclaimer: I am not endorsing “BING” as a search engine.
For my household is spells disaster for my wife in the form of idle teenagers who live in the country. Of course I explain to them how “When I grew up we spent the whole day playing outside…. Go outside!” Can you see the eye rolls immediately evoked from my 15 year old?
So, we made a deal… for each book she reads this summer I have agreed to a modest sum of compensation from which she can purchase any number of things that a teenage girl might have interest in ….lip gloss, clothes, RED hair dye!
The catch… she must write a summary report and post it on a blog. So, take a look and see what she is reading. It’s not a replacement for Oprah’s list yet but some interesting titles are in the lineup.
2 books down…. I think I see a new bottle of nail polish in her future.
My daughter, rightfully so, has taken issue with my portrayal of her in my last posting. She clarified that in no way does she need compensation to read books. She loves books and regardless of my monetary motivation she would read throughout the summer.
Having said that I certainly will hold up my end of the deal to give her some motivation to read, read, and read.
I told her that I would be more than happy to clarify her love of books. I am more than delighted with a young adult being passionate about reading when some are proclaiming the death of reading within young people.
Inkjet update for those who are watching this development in our industry. After talks (and testing) with all major suppliers of inkjet technologies I have gain some confidence in a few significant opinions:
Initial capital costs from all inkjet suppliers is insane.
Inkjet (quality) is ready for SOME markets not all.
None of the current inkjet appearance comes close to offset quality however text only line-work is reasonable.
Operating costs for ongoing inkjet are far from developed and those using it are not yet seeing the cost benefits.
We are 2-4 years away from a high quality, cost competitive inkjet solution.
Clearly in time, inkjet will become a fantastic technology for printing books however for our customers at Thomson-Shore; we will not sacrifice quality in favor of changing for the sake of change. We will continue to watch this technology closely and keep you informed at least from our perspective.
Inkjet, inkjet, inkjet! Seems as inkjet is the only thing to talk about in the book printing community. I am as anxious as anyone is to see inkjet develop into the “golden technology” that everyone is predicting and in time I’m sure it will. At the moment however I am not ready to sign on the inkjet dotted line. Most if not all of the major digital print companies have or are announcing inkjet solutions and some have great promise however the quality still lacks relative to offset printing. Just in the last week I have spoken to numerous digital print manufacturers who admit the technology has a long way to go both in terms of economic justification and in product quality. What’s more, the true benefit to the publishing community is still unclear. Certainly a publisher can produce fewer copies with inkjet but I’m not sure that problem isn’t already solved. We produce single copy books every day using current digital print technology and the books look great. We will continue to research and investigate inkjet developments; in fact I am flying out to a manufacturer this week to see their newest inkjet press. I’m hopeful to be astonished at the developments but what I suspect I will see is very average quality at an unknown price point with a ton of complexity relative to binding options. Rest assured we will invest when we can translate the technology into a tangible benefit to our publishers at a quality level we can all be proud of. Will we invest this year? I’ll let you know when I get back from my trip this week.
So many books… so little time. I ordered another book this morning. I didn’t need it as I have stacks of them waiting to be consumed at home. This one jumped out at me as a story I would love to read. Much like the others it will arrive, I will inspect it for workmanship… read a bit… and then place it on the currently growing stack, waiting for a Saturday in my future to begin the journey waiting within.
Our material partners are sending signals and unfortunately setting the table for price increases in 2011. The paper mills have traditionally reduced capacity to keep paper prices high and have indicated potential increases in 2011. Cotton pricing world-wide is exploding (risen by 84% since July) and cotton products will be more expensive in 2011. The impact to cloth used on hard cover books is unknown at the moment. We continue to look for ways to reduce the total cost to our publishers. We all have to get creative and work together in 2011 to produce great books at a great price. We have lots of ideas to start the conversation.