Lacking a major theme for this issue's Electronic Prepress story, this will be a mixture of things you might be interested in hearing about. We'll cover 6 areas: trouble spots in working with EP; Master Pages; test files; training; an O.P.I. update; and customer comments... all as they relate to our thoughts on Electronic Prepress for text pages. Each will be very brief.
1) Missing fonts or missing graphics is a significant but declining problem for text copy done from a disk. Usually this involves a font that only gets used on one or two pages and was overlooked and a phone call normally solves it. However, it does hold the job up if this occurs.
2) Poor page alignment is a problem that could usually be solved if the publisher or typesetter creates a master page. Since we impose the pages electronically, if the alignment isn't handled properly on the disk, it will be a significant problem. If you follow our EP Guidelines and create master pages, this problem should go away.
3) Proprietary Software (software that is unique to a particular typesetter or typesetting system) can cause us major alignment and imaging problems. We support most Mac platforms and especially recommend Quark Xpress or PageMaker. We also support Quark and PageMaker on PC applications by providing a printer driver for Post-Script conversion but the Windows environment isn't as trouble free as Mac applications. Proprietary systems were specifically created for imaging on their own systems. If you do use a proprietary system we strongly recommend sending us a test file to see if it will work on our imposition software.
It is our belief that every EP job should have facing Master Pages created for your printer to refer to. With master pages, you can set up your running heads and folios one time and be done with it. After you create a master page you should check it yourself by blowing it up 400% on your computer screen to be sure the alignment is what you want. When you create the master page, be sure your left hand page number aligns left and the right hand one aligns right. The master pages should also be set up for the actual, final trim size of the book.
Again, if you are using a proprietary system, it's definitely best to send us a test file before sending the entire job. However, even if you are using Quark or PageMaker on a Mac platform, it's not a bad idea to send a test file if you haven't provided copy on a disk to your printer before. We can use the test file to determine if we can run it and, hopefully, solve any problems before the job arrives. The test file should be representative of the job you'll be doing and you should send all the information (our EP Data Sheet covers this) you would provide with the job along with a laser proof for us to check against. We currently get in test files for about 5% of the EP jobs we do on Quark or PageMaker but for close to 100% on those we do from proprietary systems.
We have put 38 of our people who have customer contact through a series of 6 videos with accompanying text, all designed to help them become familiar with EP. This went on over a two month period.
For our 8 people who work directly in EP, we have utilized New Horizons which is a relatively new, national organization who's purpose is training people in EP. Our people have taken beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses in some or all of the following: Quark Xpress, PageMaker, Post-Script, PhotoShop, Illustrator and Freehand. In addition we have utilized training offered by both our software and hardware vendors.
We have actually spent so much time with the New Horizons people that we have talked with them about developing a program for publishers that would cover specifically what we feel they need to know to work successfully with book printers.
While a publisher doesn't need nearly this much training we would recommend you consider contacting companies like New Horizons to help you develop the skills you might need to get more knowledge about desktop publishing.
All of our O.P.I. software and hardware is now in and we are currently being trained in its use. To refresh your memory, we will now be able to go from disk all the way to fully imposed flats for 32 page signatures or avoid film altogether and go from disk directly to plate. This obviously creates the potential for significant financial savings when the price of the EP film comes down.
However, I believe the most interesting thing about the new equipment we are installing is its amazing ability to utilize a low resolution/high resolution swapping technique for use in jobs with line art and halftones. This will allow the publisher control over cropping and placement of halftones, provide better quality reproduction and, ultimately (when we are experienced in this system) lower prices for scanning. This, I believe, is going to be a big time improvement.
At the moment we have a couple of guinea pig illustrated jobs in that we will be working on shortly. We are not ready yet to offer this on a broad basis but just as soon as we feel comfortable doing that, we will let you know.
Out of curiosity, I contacted several of our largest users of EP jobs to get their comments on how things were going from their viewpoint. I asked them what they perceived as the advantages and disadvantages of doing text copy on disks, how their production people and editors felt about this and what were their future plans for using EP. Here is my unbiased, unabridged, interpretation of their responses.
1) Large Trade Publisher: Says biggest savings so far, is time, both in their operation and at the printers. Are doing all their jobs now on disk and would not consider going back to camera ready copy. They hope to move their entire disk preparation effort in-house.
2) Small University Press: Says biggest advantage is significant increase in quality. Blues are clearer, printed book is clearer with practically no specs, page alignment is practically perfect. Their editors have noticed quality improvement too. The things that could go wrong with camera copy and shooting individual negatives are now gone. Says a major advantage and disadvantage as well, is that the publisher has better control over the final product. They don't intend to use camera copy any more.
3) Medium Size University Press: Says biggest advantage is noticeably better quality, same comments as above. They do not copy edit on screen yet but edit hard copy proof instead. Sees no reason to use camera copy for any new titles.
4) Medium Size Religious Publisher: Sees quality improvement, no broken type or spots. Prefers sending disk over large and heavy package of camera copy. They save repro proof cost, and also additional typesetting cost by working with Mom & Pop typesetters who charge less. Their typesetters frequently call our people to be sure they provide what we want and this saves the publisher time, money and effort. If a job comes from the author on a disk, it stays on the disk.
5) Large University Press: They use PC platforms and not Mac and feel this is a disadvantage for them. They are beginning to edit on screen and are gaining confidence in this. Figures biggest savings financially will be in illustrated books which is something they are anxious to try. Like earlier comment, they see the publisher having far more control over the finished book if the copy is on a disk and view this a positive but also a possible disadvantage if they mishandle something.
6) Large University Press: Says improved quality was biggest surprise. Felt they have "rediscovered Baskerville as it was meant to be". Biggest drawback is the necessity of seeing and paying for full text blues but they also realize that significant dollar savings will eventually be coming.
Well, there's our current story in 2000 words or less. From my personal observation, if you are thinking of putting a book on disk but are not confident about it, "networking" with other publishers, typesetters, printers, and service bureaus is a very good first step. I believe any of these groups will be delighted to help reassure you and try to answer any questions you may have. As far as Thomson-Shore is concerned, I think this whole concept gives us a chance to shine because we have always believed that good communication is the best way to create a positive business relationship. It just happens to be more vital than ever before thanks to the challenge and opportunity of doing books on disk. Call us and see how well we respond.
Incidentally, we produced this entire issue on a disk and in-house. It was a piece of cake.
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Four color covers and jackets are becoming more popular as color separation techniques become better and less expensive. Five years ago fewer than 1 job in 10 printed at T-S utilized 4 color process on the cover or jacket and now it is at least twice that high a number.
A simple 4 color cover with no traps, shrinks, spreads, screens, or reverses currently costs about $460 more than a two color cover and $260 more than three color. The press time and material used are virtually identical so the added cost is pretty much a one time charge for the separations and plates. Thus, the additional cost remains the same pretty much regardless of the quantity printed. This added charge includes no traps, shrinks, spreads, screens, or reverses. These will add to the differential in cost.
One way you might cut down on this additional prep cost for 4 color is to handle some or all of that work yourself, through a color separation house.
At the moment in 50% of the 4 color cover and jacket printing we do, the publisher supplies the separations. Nine out of ten of those are supplied composited and the tenth would supply loose separations.
If you supply loose seps, you should supply them with the emulsion on the readable side of the negative. That will then be reversed when we composite them. On the other hand, if you have your supplier do the compositing so the negatives are "plate ready" when you furnish them, the emulsion should be on the non-readable side of the negative.
From the standpoint of our quoting on 4 color work, if you supply loose separations we qualify our quotation by saying the price may vary depending on the number of shrinks, spreads, screens, reverses, and traps that are required to do the compositing. This can add from about $50 to hundreds of dollars depending on the complexity of the design.
Speaking selfishly as an estimator, we prefer you to provide composited separations and then we don't have to worry about surprising you with additional costs after your job gets here. We do not do 4 color separations in-house and we take the separation firm's prices and mark them up 20% when we provide that service. If you would like to use the separator we use for compositing and save our mark-up, their name is Image Arts and their telephone number is 800-292-0431. They are good, reliable, competitively priced, and they know what we want done.Return to Contents
Printed cases seem to be gaining somewhat in popularity and they are at least common enough now for us to make comments on and a comparison of the two most typical materials used for them... 80 or 100 lb enamel or Kivar 6 or 9.
Simply put, we much prefer the Kivars for printed cases. Enamel, whether 80 or 100 lb., is difficult to work with in the case making operation. The spoilage is high and the run time is long, it is not as strong as Kivar and in the casing-in process, it's apt to tear under the film lamination when you create the hinge joint. When enamel has been printed and laminated the sheets tend to stick together in the feeder and the ultimate case isn't really much stronger than the film lamination itself.
On the other side of the coin, for a 6 x 9" book, 100 lb. enamel is about $.06/copy cheaper than Kivar 6 ($.16 less than Kivar 9) however, that is more than offset by its production shortcomings to say nothing of ending up with a less satisfactory product. Aside from that, it's fine.
As to a comparison of Kivar 6 and Kivar 9 for printed cases, both print, laminate, and bind equally well. Kivar 6 is far more popular in our experience and it is also less expensive by about $.10/copy for a 6 x 9" book. Kivar 6 is an acrylic coated Kraft fiber and is used frequently for cookbooks and text books. Kivar 9, being heavier, is probably more appropriate for very high usage purposes than Kivar 6.
For the above reasons we strongly recommend using Kivar on printed case bound books and we discourage using enamel coated paper.Return to Contents
In case you haven't heard, paper prices have been rising regularly now for nearly a year. Virtually with each issue of Printer's Ink there's another price increase to tell you about.
Between white and natural paper stocks, I believe there have been three price increases since the last Printer's Ink issue in November, two of those were in white and one in natural. At any rate, as I write this, white paper has gone up 49% since a year ago and natural (the bigger user of the two) has gone up 22%.
The latest white increase went into effect in November and the most recent natural price increase went into effect on December 15. These increases are consistent with virtually every company that makes paper.
To put the extent of a 22% paper price increase into perspective, it would bring about approximately a 3% overall increase in the price of printing 1000 copies of a 256 page, 6 x 9" case bound book. The overall price increase in a 2000 copy soft bound book with 256 pages would be about 6%.
For additional perspective, the price we will now be paying (and charging) for Glatfelter natural paper is nearly identical to the price we paid in 1991 before paper prices began to decline. White paper prices, on the other hand, are now at an all time high, but are still 10% below natural.
We'd like to offer a couple suggestions for things you might want to consider, if you look for a strategy to offset some of these paper increases. If you have been using 60 lb paper in the past you might consider dropping to 55 lb or 50 lb. If you do this, the bulk of the book will drop but our 50 lb Supple Opaque (natural) still has an opacity of 93% which is actually 1/2% higher than 60 lb Writer's Offset, Glatfelter's non-recycled natural that many of our competitors stock as their floor sheet. For 6 x 9" and 5-1/2 x 8-1/2" trim sizes, we have Supple Opaque in 50 lb, 55 lb and 60 lb weights so there are several choices. For 7 x 10 and 8-1/2 x 11" trims, we have Supple Opaque in 50 lb and 60 lb but not in 55 lb. For white text stock we have 50 lb and 60 lb in all those trim sizes but no 55 lb in any of them.
A last little element in the picture that potentially adds both confusion and a glimmer of hope, is that we appear to be past the peak of the "paper crunch". In November and December there were times when we were close to not being able to print some titles because we couldn't get a particular size or weight of text paper. Now, however, there are suddenly paper merchants with excess allotments of paper that are unsold. This may turn out to be temporary but at least it's making the paper companies think twice about further price increases.
Supply and demand may rear it's head and bite those guys who raised prices 4 times in 12 months. Justice may yet prevail.Return to Contents
Here's something new we have begun offering customers that may be of interest to you...
In the past, when a customer wanted slip cases for a case bound book we went to outside vendors and got quotes in quantities that ranged from a low of 250 up to several thousand. However, for the customer who wanted just a few slip cases for special presentations (maybe for reviewers) we couldn't accommodate those requests.
Now we've developed a fairly unique in-house service we can offer a customer who has a need for a few slip cases to use for inserting presentation copies. For $25.00 each we can make a slip case using most any cloth you choose. The price is the same for any trim size and we can actually produce from 1 to 50 or so cases, if you need them. These short run slip cases are made from 1 piece of cloth and are generally not stamped. However, for an additional $15.00 each we could take the die or dies that were used for the book and stamp each slip case in one color... or for an additional cost we could make a special die, if that seems better suited to the publisher's purpose, and stamp with that. Your estimator, customer service representative, or marketing associate can help you if your interested in pursuing this.
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Occasionally we have people ask if we can use an existing book for camera copy without taking the book apart. This can be done but only with some difficulty. Currently, if we must do this there is a set up charge of $50.00 for that title. Also, if there are halftones in the book that are to be re-screened, they would add $3.00 each to our normal halftone re-screening charge. Obviously it is much easier and quicker if we can take a printed book apart before photographing it. If the book is valuable it can be rebound by a library binder.
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On the yearly employee photo which we sent to our current customers in December we omitted the key that identified who everyone was (if you can guess each person correctly we have a special prize for you). If you got that picture and want the key, let your customer service representative know and we'll send one to you. Or, if you didn't get the picture and would like one along with the key, we'd be happy to send both if you let us know.
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The people in our case bindery department asked that we again address the "stampability" of different types of cloth and foil. This is a subject that is near and dear to their hearts because it effects the quality of the stamping they can do.
Most case binding cloths fall into one of three categories, coated, natural or non-woven (Kivar, Lexitone, etc.). Of these three, the non-woven and the coated cloths are relatively easy to stamp. Natural cloth is significantly more difficult. Additionally, within the natural and coated cloths, the heavier grades are more difficult to stamp successfully than the lighter grades. "A" grade coated is easy to stamp, Buckram and Sail cloth are significantly more difficult, whether coated or natural.
Now that that's perfectly clear, here's how the different foils stack up. Metallic foils are generally easy to stamp with, dull pigment foils are difficult to stamp with and shiny pigment foils are almost impossible to stamp books with. Actually shiny pigment foils are not supposed to be used on books at all.
If you have a metallic foil stamped on a coated cloth or a non-woven material, you should expect clean stamping. If you use either metallic foil on a natural cloth or a pigmented foil on a coated cloth you could be disappointed in the results you get. If you use a pigmented foil on a natural cloth, you'd better have very low standards.
At the moment we individually "clean" virtually all the books that we stamp with pigmented foils so the stamping will end up looking as clean as we can get it. We currently don't charge for this.
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In the last issue of Printer's Ink we said we thought we were the only book printer in the universe who had the capability of doing illustrated books via the low resolution/high resolution swapping technique. Well, it turns out I was wrong. It seems R.R. Donnelley also has developed this capability. So, there are two of us, Thomson-Shore and R.R. Donnelley. We don't mind sharing this niche with Donnelley. As a matter of fact, we'll refer any long run inquiries we get on to them.
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Another story in the last PI talked about us considering quality to be something you accomplished with motivation, individual pride and stuff like that. We look on achieving consistently good quality as a bit of an individual moral issue, and not something that you accomplish by hiring lots of inspectors.
That story got a lot of comments and one person described a different approach to quality that he had personally experienced at an organization much larger than Thomson-Shore. He told of the new employee introduction into a very large department of the U.S. Government. It consisted of several hours of lectures on not stealing, avoiding conflict of interest, etc. To emphasize the importance of following the rules that were laid out, the introduction concluded by telling the new people that there are inspectors everywhere and they will be punished if they get caught breaking any rules.
I'm not even sure what the punch line to that story should be.
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During our 23 year history T-S has strictly been a short run sheet fed printer. While many of our competitors moved on to longer runs through Web printing, for better or for worse, we stuck with sheet fed. Maybe we were smarter than everyone else... or maybe we were dumber... but we were different.
Well now I believe we have found a compromise. We are about to sign a purchase order to be the third company in the U.S. to acquire a Variquick Press that actually combines Web printing with the higher quality of sheet fed.
It is a new concept that I will explain in detail in the next issue but basically it will allow us to purchase paper in rolls (about 10% lower priced than in sheets), it will print in sheets with very low plate makeready time and the sheets will come out folded. The press costs over $2,000,000 (about 3 times the price of a new sheet fed Heidelberg Press) but it should make us more competitive than ever in 6 x 9 and 7 x 10" work. It is also about 1 year away from installation.
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Rightly or wrongly I have made it a practice not to read books on management or total quality or any of the other subjects that the world of business books now tend to cover. However, I do read book reviews and I just read one in USA Today that sounded so good to me that I am once more going to violate my rule of not writing anything philosophical. Anyway, the only thing that readers ever comment on much is the philosophical stuff so maybe you won't mind one last story.
This is about a book by Collins and Porras called Built To Last and it describes a theory that is near and dear to my heart and, hopefully, the heart of every person that works at T-S.
These two Stanford professors have used "scientific methods" to investigate why some companies are successful over long periods of time while others tend to get hot and cold. Why is Marriott consistently more successful than Howard Johnson or Microsoft doing better than Lotus or G.E. beating Westinghouse? The difference, they say, doesn't revolve around strategic planning or charismatic CEO's or hiring MBA's to maximize shareholder wealth or through CPI or Management By Objectives or Statistical Process Control. The vital difference between companies that don't maintain their success over extended periods of years and those that do, according to these guys, is that "permanently" successful companies have a vision of what they want their company to become. They create a strong, identifiable corporate culture that can best be described as institutional courage. They set out to build a company culture that pervades everything everyone does... where principle is vital to decision making at every level.
The central theme of the book is what they call clock building, not time telling. The company leaders don't focus on a product or a technology or a level of service they want to attain. Instead they concentrate on identifying corporate values and building the company culture. What do people consider when they make a decision and is that decision consistent with the beliefs the company subscribes to.
To be a great and lastingly successful company you don't need a great idea or a great leader. You need a culture where people are motivated to consistently produce good ideas. Lasting companies produce many good managers and good employees because their value system places great emphasis on doing just that. They train and promote from within their own ranks. Of the 18 successful case studies the authors identified, during their combined life spans of 1700 years, an outside CEO was hired just 4 times.
Some other characteristics of those "visionary" organizations include:
The concept that a group succeeds over the long run if it has good, recognized values that pervade the entire organization... as opposed to a company that relies on a strong leader or a hot product... is very reassuring to me. It sounds like they've decided that people... all of them... and values really are the major ingredients in achieving long term success. The values, systems, culture and structure of an organization, and the support of the people give to these things, are what keep the organization together and moving forward.
Somehow, this all seems to be very meaningful. People and their beliefs really are important. To be successful you work at building the company... its culture and its people... and let profit and size fall where they may. You build the clock, you don't just tell the time.
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Printer's Ink is a quarterly newsletter written by Ned Thomson, president of Thomson-Shore, Inc. A hardcopy version is sent out to approximately 20,000, world-wide. If you are interested in being added to our mailing list please contact us one of the following ways:
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