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We have made several equipment acquisitions since our last PI issue and we are considering several more. Here is a brief rundown of the pluses...and in some cases minuses...of these changes starting with the things that have already been done.
1. Halftone Scanner: In October we installed a new Eskofat halftone scanner called an Esko-Scan. This scanner has a screen range from 133 to 300 which is more versatile than our current one and it provides more halftone detail than we've ever been able to get before. The new scanner replaces our Dupont Scanner which, though it was only four years old, utilized an obsolete technology. The new one utilizes software designed to get Windows NT, Unix and Mac operating systems to converse with each other. This is no small accomplishment.
The Eskofat scanner is sensitive enough that it is a good idea that customers not write on the back of a photo...or even put a tag on the back...or it might show up on the halftone negative. Any writing should be done on tags that extend off the edges of the photo.
With this new scanner, all of our scans will now go through Photoshop where, on a monitor, they will be cropped, cleaned and checked for dirt. The scan will also be visually compared to the original photograph during this check. We could manipulate and alter photos with this equipment but there would be an additional charge for that.
2. Folders: We have added two new MBO folders to replace two that were close to mandatory retirement age. There is nothing special about the folders but they do run faster than the ones they replaced.
3. Humidity Thomson-Shore has humidified the entire plant to enhance our printing ability in the winter months. We will now be able to hold our in-plant humidity at 45% year round. This will help us keep paper free of curl and keep it stable so neither expansion nor contraction will cause any registration problems. Printing quality will be enhanced.
Here's a rundown of some of the things we're planning to do in 1998.
1. Direct-to-Plate: This is a fairly complex and controversial move but because of a need for more Image Setting capacity, it is a technology we will probably move toward in 1998. However, it is not an unmixed blessing.
Direct-to-plate means you would take the publisher's furnished file and make a printing plate directly from it rather than making an imposed, plate size negative and using that to make the printing plate. The advantage of going direct to plate is that you save the cost of making the negative, however, at the moment this is completely offset by the fact that the plate this technology uses is significantly more expensive than a conventional offset plate. A further potential additional expense in going direct to plate is that creating a blueline proof in a direct-to-plate system (it can create a proof called a "digital blueline") is not as inexpensive or as quick as creating a conventional blueline. And still further, if you are reprinting a book that was originally done going "direct-to-plate", the reprint plate in the direct-to-plate system is as expensive as it was for the first printing while a conventional reprint plate will be cheaper than it was for the first printing since the negative has already been made...i.e. there will be a much smaller than normal saving on the plates for the reprint.
So...while direct-to-plate will probably eventually be the way to go, at the moment it does not appear to be very cost effective until the plate cost comes down. In spite of this we are exploring this technology and will shortly have two potential suppliers work with our test files to see just what they could do for us.
2. Automating The Bindery: With the new Kolbus Binding Line that we installed in August (the advantages of which we described in the last issue of PI) we have the opportunity to do a lot more binding operations "in line". Sometime in 1998 we plan to be able to go from folded signatures through bound, shrinkwrapped and boxed books in a continuous production flow. This would not apply to Smyth sewn books but it should apply to both adhesive soft bound and notch case bound books. When we accomplish this we should lower production costs as well as shorten production schedules.
That's a brief summary of what we've done and what we are planning. It should all add up to our being a better and more competitive supplier than ever before.
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A couple issues ago our lead article was about PDF which has the potential to be used effectively for almost any document that is headed into printed form. PDF is a file format that is capable of replacing the PostScript format and it has several advantages over PostScript...namely: 1. PDF has a very small file size (from about 1/10 to 1/100 the size of a conventional PostScript file). 2. All fonts, images and graphics are contained within the file and, unlike PostScript, they are all viewable and editable on screen with everything in place. 3. PDF files are independent of the platform they run on and can be used equally well with Mac, Windows or Unix Software. 4. You can use PDF for virtually all documents with no trouble. 5. Because the file size is so small it can be easily archived for later use. 6. PDF is far less complex than PostScript. 7. You can RIP single pages in a file without doing the entire file. 8. Creating PDF files will be much quicker than converting PostScript files and, accordingly, it should be less expensive for the printer to use.
However, as we said in the Spring Issue, while PDF is going to revolutionize file creation eventually, it is still a ways off. At Print '97 (the Country's largest graphics arts show which was held in McCormick Place in Chicago in September) virtually every software maker had something there about new software that is designed to support PDF. However, there was no one who had progressed beyond demonstration files. No one was actually shipping PDF software at that time.
Sometime in '98, PDF should become practical and once the technology makes that possible, it will likely make dramatic progress in a short time. We'll try to keep you updated on this
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Word processing programs (Microsoft Word or Word Perfect and the like) have been around a long time and still are very good at serving their original purpose...producing "hard copy" of letters, documents, newsletters, or whatever. We have more than likely printed hundreds of titles over the years where the camera ready copy was produced by a word processing program.
However, those programs were not meant to produce a file that can go to a printer and be converted into a PostScript file. For that purpose you need to use a page layout program like PageMaker or Quark XPress. These page layout programs can create PostScript output that is compatible with most imposition programs that printers use. Word processing programs cannot do that without creating a myriad of outputing problems for the image setters and the software that drives them.
If your author has put their manuscript on a word processing program and you want to provide your printer with a file rather than camera ready copy, you can import the document into a page layout program yourself or you could have a Service Bureau do that for you. Either way, your printer will be happy that you didn't send them your word processing file.
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Six months ago I wrote about "Management Succession" at T-S. At the time we had had an employee committee come up with their recommendation of how they would like to see Harry Shore and myself handle; 1. our retirement; 2. management succession; 3. ownership of the company. We accepted their recommendations and have been in the process of implementing them ever since. Here is how it stands as of the first of November.
Ownership of the Company has essentially been transferred to the employees. They now own approximately 75% of all the Thomson-Shore stock. George Metzner and Chuck Schiller are now on the "Leadership Team" along with Ned and Harry. This will remain a four person team until December 31st when Ned and Harry drop off leaving George and Chuck as the two person leadership team. In the meantime Craig Mead, formerly the T-S controller, has taken over George's financial duties and Jim Johnston, formerly with a T-S competitor, has replaced Chuck Schiller as Production Manager.
Starting January 1st Ned and Harry will be part-time working approximately 16 hours a week in "consulting" roles. After 12 months of part-time employment we will be fully retired on January 1st, 1999. However, we will remain on the Company Board of Directors after that.
Actually, in the first three or four months of 1998, we will both be in Scottsdale, Arizona, where we both bought homes earlier this year. We'll be back at T-S sometime in April to begin our 16 hour a week consulting schedule. I'll also be here for a week in January to do the next issue of Printer's Ink.
Another innovation that we have taken in the management of the Company is the forming of a new committee that has the responsibility of meeting with the Leadership Team to review Company performance and to help formulate a one year operating plan for T-S. Membership on this committee consists of our Human Resource Manager, our Production Manager, our Financial Manager, our Information Systems Manager, our Sales Manager, our Customer Service Manager and our Marketing Manager. After the one year plan is finalized, the implementation of the plan will be the responsibility of this Committee.
Harry and I are both very happy with the way these plans are progressing. I believe the opportunities for T-S to do good things will be better than ever before and we'll get to spend most of the winter in the sunshine...coming back to Dexter just before the rattlesnakes come out of the ground in Arizona.
If you're in the Phoenix area this winter (or next winter for that matter) give us a call. We don't have phone numbers yet but Harry and his wife, Gloria will be living at 6536 East Amber Sun Drive and Mary Jane and I will be living at 7143 East Night Glow Circle, both in Scottsdale but specifically in the Terravita area.
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We have put on about a dozen Electronic Pre-Press Seminars across the country in the past 18 months and have just scheduled two more, one in Arizona in January and one in New York City in February.
The January Seminar will be in Tucson on the 16th and it will be sponsored by the Tucson Book Publishing Association. It will last approximately eight hours and will cover all aspects of preparing text copy to go to your printer on a disk. The fee for this seminar will be set by the TBPA. If you're interested in this and would like to know more you can contact the TBPA at 520-624-4939 or fax them at 520-624-2715.
The New York Seminar is still tentative but it is our hope to hold in conjunction with, and just prior to the Book Tech '98 Conference on February 16th. The charge for this seminar will be $125.00 and that includes lunch and our Electronic Pre-Press Study Guide which you can take home with you.
These seminars have gotten outstanding response from participants who have attended them and we encourage you to give us or TBPA a call if you think you'd be interested in going to one or the other. Laurie Briegel and Sue Campbell are the T-S people who put them on and you could talk with either of them or with Jim Holefka at T-S.
You could pay for the seminar with the money you save when you receive the T-S discount of $.30 per page for jobs that come to us on an error free disk.
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Every three months when I get ready to write Printer's Ink I ask a lot of T-S people for ideas that they'd like to see written about. One of my best sources are the nine people who plan every T-S job that goes into production. It's these folks job to make sure they know what the customer wants and then put it clearly and logically onto an order that our plant can interpret and produce accurately.
After my most recent request the planners got together and came up with the following items that, if taken care of when the order comes in, can shorten the time it takes to get an order into production and can help insure that you get nothing but pleasant surprises when you see the finished books.
Here is what they suggest:
1. Be sure to give us complete specifications. Try to leave nothing for us to guess at or call you about. If you have a quote from us it will spell out most of this stuff but if there is anything you want changed from the specifications on that quote, indicate those changes clearly on the front of the quote and return it to us with your copy or disk and your letter of instructions.
2. The back side of the white copy of our quote form has a series of questions to be answered by you. These questions cover margins, proofs, shipping instructions, requested production time, etc. It's a good idea to turn your T-S quote over and answer those questions before you send your job in...and be sure to give us your book's top and bind margins. Also, the reverse side of our yellow copy of the quote lists most of the procedures we follow in our production cycle and there's some interesting stuff there. I wrote most of that and I'd find it helpful to know if I was the customer.
3. All color breaks on covers and jackets should be clearly marked. This one must be important because the planners ask me to mention it every time I ask for their suggestions.
4. If you use keyline boxes around halftones on your text (or cover copy or on a disk), we need to know if you want the boxes to print or are they just to show position only? This is another often repeated suggestion.
5. If your order includes both hard and soft bound books (what we call a"split order"), we need to know the margins you want for either or both of the binding styles...keeping in mind that notch binding and Smyth sewing can have the same margins but perfect binding will lose an 1/8" out of the gutter margin..i.e.it will be an 1/8" shallower than its Smyth sewn or notch case bound counterpart.
6. Stamping die art should be clearly marked with tic marks to show the position of the die on the spine or cover of the book.
7. If your cover or jacket is to be film laminated (and most of the ones that we print are), be sure you say whether you want matte or gloss lamination. Gloss is still the most popular of the two but matte is gaining on it. If you'd like to see a sample of either or both, give us a call and we'll send them to you.
8. And lastly, be sure you give us the name and phone number of the person at your address that we should contact in case we have questions.
or both, give us a call and we'll send them to you.
That's what I have at the moment. Maybe when our production planners see their ideas in print, they'll want to give me a new list of suggestions for the next issue.
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Starting off on a high note, as I write this the University of Michigan football team is 6 and 0 and ranked #4 in the country. Probably by the time you read this they'll be 9 and 0 and ranked #1. This is our year! Unfortunately, I also thought it was the Cleveland Indians year so I'm not completely error free in my predictions.
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Paper prices are in something of a movable state again. Our biggest paper user is Glatfelter's Supple Opaque Natural. That sheet has been at the same price since early July but on approximately September 1st it went up 6%. It is now back to where it was in February of '96.
White paper prices always seem to move more than natural and in July white paper went up 4%. It is now about 34% above its lowest price of the last couple years but still about 14% below its highest price. The "informed" word on the street is that the prices of both white and natural should stay where they are for while. We'll see.
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As you probably know, we offer a discount of $.30 per page for text copy that comes to us on a file (error free) instead of in camera ready copy form. Since we began offering that discount a year or so ago, we have given customers credits totalling more than $100,000. At the moment over 80% of all disk jobs are receiving the discount. The discount seems to be accomplishing what we hoped it would and it's saving our customers a lot of money...a win-win situation.
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Our customers frequently ask who writes Printer's Ink. Well actually I do...and my name is Ned Thomson. On the other hand, there's hardly anything that goes in this that is original with me...other than the occasional comment about Michigan. Practically every story is the result of a suggestion from an employee or a customer or both. I'm just the messenger.
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While we have never had a full time salesperson in the field representing T-S, we are starting to test those waters a little bit with Chris Shore beginning to spend some time in New York City. In September Chris (Chris is Harry's son and has been an estimator for 11 years...currently doing the estimating for the East Coast) went to New York City for three days and made sales calls on behalf of T-S. He went again in October and November and beginning in January he'll be there from Tuesday morning until Thursday evening twice a month. If you are in the New York City area and would like Chris to come see you, please give us a call.
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In the September issue of Tech Directions magazine there was a story about the "Graph X Academy" which is a collaborative effort of Thomson-Shore and the Dexter School System. In the Graph X program six high school students come to T-S and work everyday with a "mentor". Eventually each student will have spent time in most every department. Their day at T-S consists of two hours and the program runs for 110 days. The program, in this form or something similar, has been going on here for about ten years.
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Once again this year we had a successful vegetable garden at T-S. We raised tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc. and had a pretty good harvest. This year we also planted flowers and bushes all around the building and put in a sprinkler system that covers the whole thing so the vegetables didn't have any excuses. All in all, we should be contributing to the overall quality of our people's diets. However,in our "wellness" efforts we took a step backward this year when, for the first time in 12 years, we are not doing aerobics at T-S. It died because of a declining participation.
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We have had continual requests to publish a list of all the E-Mail addresses for T-S people who have contact with our customers. Well, here it is: Example: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Christine Blanke - email@example.com
Laurie Briegel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lee Broat - email@example.com
Tammy Burke - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Campbell - email@example.com
Sue Campbell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Dawson - email@example.com
Todd Gaffner - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Holefka - email@example.com
Renee Holly - firstname.lastname@example.org
Julia Jensen - email@example.com
Renee Krull - firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Smith - email@example.com
Ned Thomson- firstname.lastname@example.org
|Mark Livesay - email@example.com
George Metzner - firstname.lastname@example.org
Marge Mills - email@example.com
Diane Fadden - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lana Paton - email@example.com
Dave Raymond - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chuck Schiller - email@example.com
Chris Shore - firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Shore - email@example.com
Mike Shubel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Skrzypek - email@example.com
Kay Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanne Trinkle - email@example.com
Sue Trisdale - firstname.lastname@example.org
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While we are admittedly biased, seeing this from a printer's viewpoint and not the typesetter's, I do know that a lot of typesetters will agree with us that the suggestion in that headline is not too much to expect from your typesetter.
You should ask (maybe "insist" is a better word) that your typesetter or designer, or whoever prepared your file, provide you with a full size and current laser proof of all the text pages. This seems pretty basic but surprisingly, it does not always happen. And in addition to text laser proofs, we also need current, full size laser proofs for cover and jacket files as well as for stamping die files. If we don't receive them your job will be delayed while we contact you about getting them.
At the moment we receive this proof about 90% of the time for text pages but only about half the time for covers and jackets and less than half the time for stamping dies. In each case where we don't receive them we go back to the customer to get it before we proceed with the job. In several of these cases we got a typesetter upset enough to tell the publisher that there was no reason on earth why the printer needs that proof and we were just being obstinate.
Well there is a reason why we want the proof and here it is.
One of several quality checks we go through before printing any job that comes in on a disk is to place the "full size, current laser proof" down over each negative to be sure all is well. That may sound time consuming but it really only takes a few moments and we believe it is good assurance that the copy will be printed the way the customer wants it.
For covers and jackets, (where the bulk of the problem lies), the designer or typesetter can pull a color laser that contains the color breaks but if you just have a black and white printer, that will be fine as long as all the color breaks are clearly marked. When the people were asking me to write about this, they showed me examples where people had taken several black and white, 8-1/2 x 11" laser prints and taped them together...at the appropriate spot...and ended up with a full size, well marked proof that give us everything we needed.
We have had cases where we received a set of laser proofs of the text pages but changes had been made to the file and the proofs preceded the changes. The job is delayed while we ask for current proofs only to be told by the typesetter that they're too busy to waste their time with another set of proofs and to just take their word that everything is OK. If this happens, we make our own lasers and send them to the typesetter, along with a bill for $.25/per page and we suggest they check and OK each page.
Obviously this is not an attractive scenario and it can lead to an unnecessary confrontation so we would only do that as a last resort...and it's only happened a couple times in the past year.
We are not trying to do this to avoid getting blamed for a mistake. We're trying to do this so we are sure we're going to print the job correctly and avoid pain on everyone's part. We believe most typesetters appreciate this and realize it will save them...as well as the publisher and the printer...in the long run.
Up until now if a job came in without proper laser proofs, we'd still give it our $.30/page discount if it met our other criteria and if the correct proofs were supplied after we asked. However, Laurie Briegel, who is the person who makes the call on the discount, says she's about to stop giving the discount if we have to stop the job and ask for corrected proofs.
We believe all this is both reasonable and well intentioned and we think even those few obstinate typesetters who may still exist out there will agree with us once they know what we use the proofs for.
If you have any thoughts or concerns about this...or suggestions about how we can improve the system...please give me a call. We'll be delighted to receive help here.
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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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