Winter 1996

Volume 11 Issue 4


  • Thomson-Shore Ready To Offer A $ Discount For Text Pages That Come In On Disk
  • Trivia
  • Internet, FTP Server, E-Mail, Web Page, and the Thomson-Shore BBS: An Update
  • T-S Reconfigures Handling of Incoming CSR Phone Calls
  • E.P. Seminar Update
  • Trade Shows
  • Scanner Update
  • Electronic Tips & Tricks

  • Thomson-Shore Ready To Offer A $ Discount For Text Pages That Come In On Disk

    We have been promoting having the publisher send in their text pages on a disk, instead of as camera ready copy, for nearly a year now. Little by little the momentum has been swinging toward disks and in the most recent two week period, 50% of our incoming book pages were on a disk. That is up from about 30% a couple months ago and about 5% a year ago.

    The reason we have been emphasizing disks is that for at least two years we have felt that the entire graphic arts world is moving toward digital technology and it would be challenging and rewarding to be at the forefront of this movement... at least in the book printing industry.

    To help us get prepared for this move, (which we feel will be as significant a move in book printing as the switch from letter press to offset was) in 1995 we invested just under $500,000 in electronic prepress equipment and software, over 1000 hours in employee training at outside training facilities and well over 2000 hours of employee training inside our own plant. We believe we now have arrived at a "state of readiness" where we are set to do more than just suggest publishers consider moving from providing camera copy to providing disks.

    Accordingly we are now, or will shortly be, offering:

    1. A per page discount of $.30 each for all jobs that come to us from one of our preferred compositors;
    2. A list of outside "preferred compositors" (if you use a compositor) that we will work with in a "seamless" fashion so if there is a problem with your file, we will work with the typesetter to straighten it out without the publisher having to get involved. There will be no finger pointing;
    3. A discount of $2.00 per halftone on all jobs that are done via O.P.I., where the customer places and crops the halftone;

    We're setting up every modern method known to man so a customer can send and receive files, corrections, graphics, fonts, etc., quickly, conveniently and inexpensively (see the back page for more about this).

    Elaborating on these one at a time...

    1. $.30/ PAGE DISCOUNT FOR "CLEAN" E.P. JOBS. This is an initial and conservative pass at the savings we believe will occur when files are successfully used for producing text copy. Beginning March 1, all of the books that come to us electronically will receive a discount of $.30/ page off our quoted price...assuming the file is "clean" or trouble free. You can guarantee this savings by using one or more of our preferred typesetters. Files supplied by others will not be considered "clean" until film has been output and no problems have arisen. If it turns out to be trouble free, you will then receive the discount.

    2. PREFERRED TYPESETTER LIST. We are currently developing a list of typesetters that we will guarantee you the $.30/ page discount should you use them. However, whether your typesetter is on our list of preferred typesetters or not, if the disk is clean you get the discount. We hoped to have the initial preferred typesetter list ready to go now but we haven't got enough names on it yet. We are visiting typesetters, or they are visiting us, to be sure our operations are compatible and to be sure they are willing to work with us to clear up any incompatibility issues that do crop up unexpectedly. Our purpose here is twofold... 1- keep problems to a minimum and 2- avoid causing the publisher any concern or headaches that could occur if the printer and the typesetter both say "It's not my fault." We anticipate solving any hiccups without involving the publisher.

    We have no intention of keeping this list of typesetters exclusive. We'd like to include everyone out there but first we want to assure ourselves that they can provide us with compatible files and if problems occur, they are willing to work with us to solve them. We will have the profiles of these firms ready in early April and will send it out to our customers then. If you are not a customer, you will see it in May in the next Printer's Ink, or you could get it earlier via fax or Internet if you ask us.

    If you prepare your own files without involving a typesetter and send us either application or PostScript files, you will still receive the discount provided your files turn out to be trouble free. Your files will need to clear all areas of E.P. without problems to be considered "clean".

    To give you further assurance that books done from "clean" files will be trouble free, our in-house quality checking includes making an underlay for every job, putting the full plate size negative with all 16 pages on it on a light table then putting the laser page proofs you supply down on the top of each page negative for direct comparison, checking type density on each flat with a densitometer and visually checking out the negative imposition with the computer generated imposition... all before a plate is made.

    3. $2.00 PER HALFTONE ON CUSTOMER PLACED O.P.I. JOBS. We have been doing illustrated books via the O.P.I. process for 4 months now. We have handled several thousand halftones via O.P.I. and have no reservations on the notion that it is truly the highest quality and quickest way to produce illustrated books.

    If you are unfamiliar with O.P.I., we covered it at length in the last issue of P.I., and you can ask us for a copy if you missed it then. Basically it is a system whereby the publisher sends us their photos early, we make a high resolution and a low resolution scan of each picture, and send the publisher the low res scans for them to crop and place in the text copy file. They then send in the file with the low res scans in place and cropped, we swap the low and the high resolution scans, and we're ready to output full format (16 pages up) negatives with the halftones already in position.

    Obviously the complete text has to be done electronically and not as camera ready copy, for us to do this.

    We are sold on the O.P.I. system enough so that even if the publisher (or their typesetter) does not want the responsibility of placing the halftone and getting the $2.00 each savings, we will use the O.P.I. process ourselves, creating both the low and high res scans, do the positioning on our own computer, swap the scans, and create the full format negatives that way. Stripping halftones electronically can be faster, and if you do it, you can save money.

    This system may sound complicated but in real life it is working out very easily and very well. If you'd like to talk with some of our customers that are having us do it, let us know and we'll give you some references.

    4. SEE THE BACK OF THIS ISSUE OF P.I. FOR THE DETAILS ON COMMUNICATION. AND...this initial $.30/ page discount is just our first shot at this. We are still reviewing our costs and as our experience and skills increase, this discount has the potential to increase significantly. So, the bandwagon is picking up steam. If you are interested but not confident in how to proceed, give us a call. You could talk with your Customer Service Rep or if you aren't already a T-S customer, ask for Laurie Briegel. Laurie is our designated liaison between our CSR's and our Electronic Prepress Department and one of her responsibilities is to counsel customers in how to best take advantage of E.P. opportunities.

    In summary, these advantages include a better price from T-S, potentially a faster schedule, and better quality of reproduction because of using 1st generation material to create the negative. And, since better quality film is being used (film used for E.P. is twice the price of conventional Litho film) there are practically no pinholes or specs that can occasionally get on the printed page when books are reproduced from traditional camera copy. And one last plus is that if you work with a typesetter that is familiar with T-S, we expect they should be assured that we can work easily with their files and your book production should be seamless on your end. This, combined with not needing a repro proof, could create additional savings from that source.

    Well, that's it folks. All the news that's fit to print about electronic prepress and why you should take advantage of it. However, if you're still not sure what it's all about, give us a call and we'll be happy to talk with you about the new revolution in copy preparation.

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    Bookbuilders West, an Association of Publishers in the 13 Western states, just announced the winning entries in their annual contest to find the best designed and produced books published in their area in 1995. In the areas of scholarly and poetry publications, where black and white books of relatively short runs reside, Thomson-Shore produced more books than any other book manufacturer and as many as all the other Michigan printers put together. The West is an area where we have no sales representation and a comparatively "modest" presence so we were particularly pleased by this.

    Another West coast publishing organization, Publisher's Marketing Association, announced in their January newsletter the results of their "Printer's Survey." They had asked publishers to rate the overall performance of printers they worked with and T-S came in at the top of the book printers who got votes. With a score of 3 representing "excellent", 2 being "average", and a 1 being "needs improvement" we got a score of 2.85. Half of the printers listed scored 1.81 or below.

    * * * * *

    White and natural paper prices prices have recently gone down. We are currently paying 7% less for white paper than we were last summer and about 4% below current natural paper prices. Last summer, people connected with the paper industry were predicting that prices were going to continue their upward climb as far as the eye could see, but at a somewhat slower rate than in the immediate past. This seems to be another illustration of the inherent hazards in predicting.

    * * * * *

    Late in 1995, T-S discontinued using color key proofs for covers and jackets. We switched to a proof known as a "water proof". This proofing system is similar to color key in that there is a limited number of colors available to proof in (although, the number of colors available in water proofs is about 50% greater than for color keys) but there are quite a few advantages. The water proof shows the art that is being reproduced on one substrate instead of a series of clear plastic overlays that color keys use. The substrate that it shows the proof on, can be virtually any printable material so we can actually use the same material that is to be used for the printed cover or jacket. Unlike a colorkey, the waterproof is considered a contract proof for process and the water proof, using pure water as its developer, is more environmentally friendly. If you have a T-S quote that mentions a color key proof, you will now get a water proof. We assume you will like it.

    * * * * *

    The Thomson-Shore Customer Satisfaction Survey is now underway. When a job ships it will be followed up in a couple weeks with a questionnaire designed to find out how we performed and also to learn of any suggestions you have for us. We're offering "bribes" of a sweat shirt, an umbrella, etc. to induce you to send it back. We'll also give the results to our people as well as putting them in Printer's Ink. No customer will receive more than one survey in 6 months.

    * * * * *

    T-S has installed an 800 fax number. It is 800-706-4545. We are also considering using a regular 800 phone number for incoming calls but we want to be sure we are ready to handle the increase it will likely create in incoming phone calls. The phone company says that number could double and we want to have systems in place that will allow us to handle any phone call increase before we initiate the country-wide use of the 800 number.

    * * * * *

    In the last issue of P.I. we mentioned that Kenaf paper, made from a form of Hibiscus instead of trees, was available but that it was not easy to get, was expensive and seemed to have trouble with color consistency from sheet to sheet. One of our readers disagreed with me and sent in a book they had had printed as an example of how it looked when made into a book. After seeing the book I will add an additional concern and that is that it also looks funny. Perhaps it will appeal to some people but I would suggest that any publisher who is interested in using it should see samples of books printed on it before specifying it. So far we have had no quote requests come in that specify that paper.

    * * * * *

    Because of our contract pricing we formerly could buy Roxite cloth (made by Holliston) less expensively than Arrestox cloth (made by I. C. G.). Because of this we would specify Roxite on our quotations that were for A or B grade cloth casebound books. Now, however, Arrestox pricing virtually matches Roxite's so we have no particular preference. As far as the comparative costs of various cloths is concerned, A grade is about $.02/copy below B, Kivar 5 is about $.07 less, Kivar 7 is $.10 less and Crown Linen about $.05 less. These numbers will vary as quantities get over 4000 or so when the non-wovens (Kivar and the like) start getting still less expensive.

    * * * * *

    For those customers who are preparing cover and jacket art on disk for T-S, we now have guidelines for how to handle traps. You can get these guidelines on our Web site or, if you ask, we'll fax or mail them to you.

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    Internet, FTP Server, E-Mail, Web Page, and the Thomson-Shore BBS: An Update

    About 18 months ago we decided we would make the financial, manpower, training and space commitment to become a leader... or THE leader... in Electronic Prepress technology in the short run book printing field. As best I can tell, this has been a pretty successful effort and a good investment for us. On the first page of this Printer's Ink you can read about our latest efforts to attract more E.P. jobs into our plant but in addition to making it less expensive to produce your book via electronic files, we're also trying to make it easier to communicate with us via electronic methods. To help you understand, this is an update of where T-S stands in the various electronic communication areas.

    E-Mail (via Internet):E-Mail goes over the Internet and is used primarily for communication from your computer "site" to another one. You can gain access to e-mail through a University connection, an on-line service such as Prodigy or America-On-Line or through an outside provider. Once you have access you can send an instantaneous message to other e-mail addresses inexpensively. Small files can also be sent through e-mail as an enclosure. In addition to sending e-mail messages, you can receive them on your computer as well...however, your computer must be turned on before it will display a message. If it is turned off, the message will be held in memory until you turn the computer on then it will tell you that you have mail.

    To send an e-mail message you need the e-mail address of your recipient. Thomson-Shore has 100 separate e-mail addresses. If you would like the list of addresses, we can mail or fax that to you.

    FTP Server: File Transfer Protocol is used strictly for sending files (graphic images, corrected pages, fonts, etc.) to our electronic prepress area. To send something to an FTP server you need Internet access and some additional software that is actually available free via the Internet. If you are interested in using FTP, ask us for our FTP guidelines and we'll mail or fax them to you or you can access them by visiting our Web site. One additional point here, sending files (of up to 5Mb) is both convenient and free via FTP, if the file is for the copy of an entire book, we also will need the hard copy (laser proofs) so it might be easier to send the whole thing together via surface transport instead.

    Web Page: The T-S Web site has been up and running for over 8 months now. We've mentioned it frequently in Printer's Ink and we are currently getting an average of 650 "hits", or visits, each working day. According to a recent Bookbuilders West Newsletter, there are 3 major Web sites for book printers. These are Thomson-Shore, R.R. Donnelley and Banta. They visited all three sites and concluded that Thomson-Shore's was "Currently the most complete and useful site of any book printer."

    Our site includes an index, a plant tour, a library, all of our EP guidelines, pictures and bio's of all of our customer contact people, current edition of Printer's Ink (3 weeks before it is mailed), a quote request form that is immediately reproduced at an estimator's desk, and "much, much more." Our Internet site address is

    T-S BBS:The T-S Bulletin Board Service is something new and it allows you to communicate with T-S via a computer and a modem. The Internet is not involved. The BBS is intended for sending small files containing things like page corrections, fonts, etc. It utilizes phone lines so there is a cost to the sender. It does not transmit as fast as the Internet so it would be slow and relatively expensive to send a large file to the BBS. We have "Client Guidelines" that we'll be happy to send you that cover the simple instructions for using our BBS.

    Our BBS phone number is 734-426-6298, it is on 24 hours a day and it has a connect speed of up to 19,200 bps. If you send us something on the BBS, you will need to call us and tell us, giving us the file name, otherwise, we'd never find the file.

    Well, there you have it. All the latest in up-to-the-minute communication addition to the usual fax, telephone and personal visits...all written up by a guy who has yet to send a fax or an e-mail message. If you feel intimidated by all this stuff... you ain't alone.

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    T-S Reconfigures Handling of Incoming CSR Phone Calls

    In an effort to increase the percentage of phone calls answered directly by customer service people (as opposed to the number of calls that go to voice mail), we are now utilizing an automatic call forwarding procedure. We have 5 Customer Service Reps (Diane, Lana, Linda, Mike and Thom) and each of them has a Customer Service Assistant. The teams are Diane and Renee, Lana and Rebecca, Linda and Becki, Mike and Tammy, and Thom and Lee. Here's how the new answering procedure will work.

    In the past, when a CSR was away from their desk or on the phone, an incoming call went into their voice mail after a couple of rings. Now, however, with the help of modern technology, if your call goes to a CSR's voice mail it gives you the chance to switch to their assistant rather than leave the CSR a voice mail message. If the assistant also happens to be unavailable then you can have the option to leave a message with either person.

    The CSR's and their assistants share the same office with desks practically touching one another. They both have their own computer, similar training and skills and immediate access to the files for all of their customer's current jobs.

    We've actually been doing this for 3 months on a trial basis with Linda and Becki and it has worked very well. By the time you read this all 5 teams will be working this way.

    One last note, by March 1, Linda will have a new assistant. Becki is due to have a baby in late February and she doesn't plan to return to work for a while. When she does return it will be part time and in another area of the Customer Service Department.

    We expect this change will give us the chance to get most all of your calls to T-S answered personally.

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    E.P. Seminar Update

    We have mentioned in the last few Printer's Inks that we are developing seminars to help you become more comfortable and familiar with how electronic prepress can help you. Our first seminar is scheduled for late March and will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Eventually we will be conducting these seminars in other areas of the country. If you are interested in attending this, or future seminars, give Laurie Briegel or Jim Holefka a call and they can tell you more about it.

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    Trade Shows

    Thomson-Shore will be attending these shows in the next 3 months...

    International Small Press Publishing Institute
    February 29 - March 2
    San Diego, CA
    Wyndham Emerald Plaza Hotel
    Jim Holefka will have T-S samples and information on exhibit.

    Michigan Press Photographers Association
    March 9-10, 1996
    Lansing, MI
    Holiday Inn South. T-S will have an exhibit. Kay Stevens, Christine Blanke, and Donna Fulner will be attending.

    Book Publishers of Texas Convention
    March 22-24, 1996
    Austin, TX
    Omni Austin Hotel. We will have an exhibit and Jim Holefka will be in attendence.

    Southern University Press Meeting
    March 22-24, 1996
    Charlottesville, VA
    Omni Charlottesville Hotel.
    Larry Meilleur will be a panel member discussing electronic prepress during the "Does Anybody Know What's on the Disk?" session. Ned Thomson, Chris Shore, Linda Skrzypek, and Laurie Briegel will also be attending this meeting.

    AAUP Production Managers Meeting
    April 25-27, 1996
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Carolina Inn.
    Ned Thomson, Sue Campbell, Laurie Briegel, Diane Nourse, and Jim Holefka will host an electronic prepress seminar, the afternoon of April 26. The seminar is designed to give registrants an overview of how to take advantage of electronic prepress.

    Pub Tech '96
    May 9-10, 1996
    Chicago, IL
    Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.
    Jim Holefka will have T-S samples and information on exhibit.

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    Scanner Update

    In early March our primary halftone scanner will go through a major upgrade that will offer significant improvements in both the optics and the software that digitizes the photo. It should enable us to digitally handle rescreens so we can include rescreening of already printed pictures in the O.P.I. process. It will scan and create better quality reproductions from color prints and will allow us to do more than one scan at once. In the O.P.I. format we can bypass the power station and go directly from the scanner to the server bypassing the production step that was formerly done by the power station.

    The new software was created and designed to work in a digital environment, whereas the former software was designed for a conventional shoot & strip environment. We believe this is now absolute state-of-the-art halftone scanning.

    This new system can reproduce the halftone in a negative form or in a digitized file format and the reproduction quality for either should be identical.

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    Electronic Tips & Tricks

    Utilities For Checking PostScript Files

    Macintosh Users: A utility called Download Mechanic (made by Acquired Knowledge) can be very useful for checking/preflighting your files before you send them to your printer. It will list for you the fonts used in your document (and whether or not they are saved in the PostScript code), graphic file formats, how many pages are really in the file, the size of the bounding box, among other useful things. Acquired Knowledge tells us they are shooting for first quarter of '96 to have a DOS version of this program.

    FlightCheck (by Markzware) is a utility that will collect all the components of your job, and make a report of any missing items or problems with your files. We're not aware of this utility on the DOS side, but it is available for Mac platform.

    Both Macintosh and DOS/Windows Users: Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat Distiller have a feature that allows you to display your PostScript file on your screen.

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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 addresses, 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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