Spring 1995

Volume 11 Issue 1


  • Here Is Our Latest Electronic Prepress Update... Version 6.0
  • Shipping Costs And What Do You Get For Your Money?
  • Customer Service Structure Changes
  • An Update On Paper Prices
  • Trivia
  • If You Are Remotely Interested In the Internet, Please Read This
  • Info on PI

  • Here Is Our Latest Electronic Prepress Update... Version 6.0

    Removable Media:

    We can now support several more removable media devices. The full list now includes 3 1/2" floppy disks; 5 1/4" SyQuest cartridges in 44, 88 and 200Mb; 105 and 270Mb 3 1/2" SyQuest cartridges; 128 and 230Mb 3 1/2" Magneto-Optical cartridges and all 5 1/4" Magneto-Optical cartridges. We are also experimenting with FrameMaker 4.0 on Macintosh. This is all in addition to FreeHand, PageMaker QuarkXPress and Adobe Illustrator.

    O.P.I. Swapping:

    This is what we believe to be a revolutionary new technique for handling books with from several to many halftones. We have been putting together our own system for doing this for about 3 months now and it is finally in place and we are proceeding with our first, trial job.

    O.P.I. (Open Prepress Interface) swapping is a technique where the customer furnishes photographs, we scan them in low resolution and high resolution files and send the low resolution files back to the customer to place, size and crop. When the file comes back to us, we electronically swap the cropped low resolution file for the high resolution file, duplicating the cropping, and output the corrected file into a fully imposed, 8 or 16 page, plate-ready flat.

    This technique for handling illustration reproduction is, we believe, going to be a dramatic improvement over existing methods. It offers significant benefits in production speed, the highest available option in quality of reproduction, squareness and cropping and placement of the illustration and, eventually, a lower price. At the moment we are a pioneer in this area and although we are not ready to do this on a full scale basis yet, if you would like to consider it or just learn more about it, give Larry Meilleur at Thomson-Shore a call. He'll be happy to answer any questions you have as well as give you an up-to-the-minute report on how we are progressing here. We think this is going to be one of the most significant contributions that electronic prepress will make to book publishing.

    EP Trouble Spots:

    In general, the electronic jobs we are receiving are coming to us in better shape with each passing week. Our incoming work is still running about 1/3 electronic and 2/3 camera ready copy but it appears that over 50% of the camera ready copy jobs were actually done on a disk and then the publisher chose to have hard copy produced from the disk rather than sending in the disk itself.

    The advantages of providing a disk vs. repro proofs are that you save the cost of creating the camera copy and you will get better quality reproduction of your copy from the disk because you are one generation closer to the original source.

    Here are some of the things that will help you provide disks that are error free and can take full advantage of these pluses:

    1. Read a copy of our latest EP Guidelines (version 6.0) and Electronic Prepress Data Sheet. If there are any questions about these, give us a call.
    2. If you are creating your file in a page layout program, be sure to create Master Pages. Your software manual will cover how to do this.
    3. Be sure all your fonts are included when you send your files in. Missing fonts continue to be a problem for us. Your fonts should be Type 1 PostScript Fonts. True Type Fonts are incompatible with most imaging systems. If you have graphics imbedded in your file, be sure the fonts for them are also included.
    4. Generally each chapter or section of a book has its own file. Be sure they are created consistently. You should double check "options" for each file before you tell the file to "save" to PostScript.
    5. If you are using a typesetter with a proprietary system (as opposed to desktop) there will almost always be an added $50 charge for us to get the page alignment flowing properly. This will not be the case if you are using QuarkXPress or PageMaker on a Mac.
    6. If your job is done on a proprietary system, the files our imposition software will be compatible with would be the Miles 33 System, Penta System or TEX. However, regardless of the equipment your typesetter uses, if it is other than our supported software, you should always send in a test file on the first job to be sure their system is compatible with your printer's software. At Thomson-Shore, we review test files daily and we do not charge for this. If the typesetter's system is not immediately compatible, alterations may be able to be made to work it out. For IBM platforms your typesetter should use an Adobe Print Driver and our guidelines for PostScript files. If they do not have this, we will supply it free of charge.

    EP Data Sheets:

    We have just developed a new set of PostScript and Application File Guidelines and a new Electronic Prepress Data Sheet. They are our version 6.0 and replace version 5.1. If you do not have a set you could access it through our Internet Web server, FTP or call us and we'll send you a set.

    It does not require black magic to work successfully with electronic files. More of our customers are doing it each week and plenty of help is available for you if you would like to learn more. Publisher's conferences, specialized training workshops, journal or magazine articles, or just a conversation with your printer are all viable ways to get yourself or your company going in this exciting new publishing technology. The rewards can be significant.

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    Shipping Costs And What Do You Get For Your Money?

    Ever since de-regulation of motor freight by the Federal Government began several years ago, shipping costs have been a mysterious and easily manipulated ingredient in the cost of virtually all merchandise. Under government regulation only certain carriers were given the right to make deliveries between fixed points and the amount they charged was approved by the government. A fine example of how free enterprise is not supposed to function.

    With de-regulation, competition blossomed and prices dropped dramatically. Freight haulers still refer to rates set by a tariff commission but open competition has created discounts on those rates of up to 45% or more.

    Up until recently, because of some remaining regulations...some bureaucracies last ditch effort to "keep things under control"... we could only get up to a 38% discount on freight in the Midwest and even less when it stayed within Michigan. However, now the last of these regulations has been blown away and both our Michigan and Midwest freight discounts have gone up to over 60%.

    This is actually a higher discount than we get for the rest of the country but those have also gone up a bit.

    At any rate, the amount we will be billing you for freight will be significantly lower if you are in one of the 7 Midwest states and a bit lower if you are anywhere else in the country.

    And now, with all that clearly explained, here's the point of what I wanted to say in the first place. I'll be repeating some of the things I've mentioned in earlier Printer's Ink issues but it seems worthwhile.

    While there are no written rules about what you, the publisher should pay for motor freight, you should certainly be receiving some of the "discount" off the published rates or tariffs the motor freight lines use. Any printer that ships anything is getting large freight discounts and, hopefully, at least 80% of that discount gets passed on to the customer or publisher. However, that is not always the case.

    There are printers that actually keep the entire freight discount, billing the publisher for up to twice the amount they pay the freight carrier... and sometimes even more than twice that amount. This creates a situation where they bid low to win the work then "make it up on freight".

    There is an argument for the printer keeping some of the discount because freight bills have to be paid by the printer within 1 week and there is an expense related to making out the bill of lading, the shipping labels and dealing with the shipping company, but when you profit more on the freight bill than on the printing and binding of the book, that's going overboard.

    You can identify this potential abuse by asking for a collect shipment or by asking your printer just how much of their freight discount will be passed on to you, or by getting a freight estimate with your quotes, then comparing various printer's freight estimates and then by complaining if they ultimately miss that estimate by more than 10% or so.

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    Customer Service Structure Changes

    We are making a change in the way we handle customer service and by the time you read this it should be in place.

    In an effort to cut down on the number of incoming calls to our Customer Service Reps that go to voice mail (because the CSR is already on the phone) as well as lower the awesome number of hours the CSR's put in, we are adding to our personnel in that area.

    For the past year or so we have had 5 CSR's and two (more recently it has been three) Assistants. The CSR's were on the phone a lot and the Assistants, while doing much of the nuts and bolts work of the department, rarely were on the phone with customers.

    Now, however, we will have 5 CSR's and each will have an Assistant and both will be on the phone. This should, we feel, create a big improvement in our ability to receive phone calls directly and to respond to customer inquiries quicker.

    It is our goal to directly answer over 75% of our calls and to respond to any that do get into voice mail within an hour. Each CSR and their Assistant will be in an office together and they will have access to all the same information files and computer data.

    At the moment, we are giving our employees the chance to apply for these two new positions and, if we get this organized as quickly as we plan, we should have a picture of the entire group of 10, as well as all our other people who have customer contact, to put in this issue.

    If you are presently a Thomson-Shore customer, we hope you'll be pleased by this and if you're not a customer, we'd like to have the chance to get to know you in the future.

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    An Update On Paper Prices

    If you have been anywhere near the Western world in the past year you have most likely heard about the dramatic increase in the price of paper.

    As a matter of fact, this is the 4th straight issue of Printer's Ink that has had an article about this unfortunate fact and generally we have concluded by predicting that we felt the worst was probably over. So far every time we've been wrong.

    Natural text stock has gone up 35% and white has gone up 65% since sometime in March of 1994. This includes a new natural price increase that's effective May 1. White is now about 6% less expensive than natural and just last year it was about 33% less. The paper companies probably think they've died and gone to heaven. The printers and publishers have a different point of view but I don't suspect paper companies ever worried about what we thought anyway. Their concern about us is if we can pay the bill.

    There is a huge new paper machine coming "on stream" in early summer and there are those in the industry who believe that machine will provide the straw that breaks the back of these price increases... but I'm beyond speculating anymore. At this point only the shadow really knows and he's not talking.

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    A couple issues ago we mentioned that we occasionally received bar codes from bar code printers with no identification of customer or title. This obviously can cause a problem but, with your assistance, that seems to have been cleared up. Now, we have another similar situation to ask for help on and that involves receiving unidentified text negatives in a tube, from another printer. This one isn't quite the puzzle that bar codes are but it really would be a time saver if, on those times when you ask a printer to send your negatives to us, if they would indicate somewhere on or in the package who the publisher is and what the book's title is, it would really help. When you ask for quotations on covers and jackets, in all situations except for 4 color process it is a good idea to tell the printer if one of these colors is black. At T-S, and very possibly with everyone else as well, the charge for printing black is going to be lower than the charge for a PMS color. If you say black and one color your quotation will be lower than for two PMS colors... by about $25.

    X X X X

    If you called T-S in early March, left a message and never received a call back, there was very possibly a reason other than inattention. For a 4 day period we lost use of our voice mail system as well as every message that was in it at the time. A hard drive... which supposedly has an average non-fail life of 13 years... failed after 18 months and left us in the embarrassing position of losing all our messages and not being able to receive new messages for 4 days. Then in April, in another display of the wonders of modern technology, we lost the power supply to our PBX and our entire phone system (with the exception of the switchboard and a couple direct line phones) was inoperable for the better part of one working day. I suspected Edwards Brothers was using a cat burglar to sabotage us but they have consistently denied it.

    X X X X

    If you do a split run of hard and soft bound books, you could save on shipping costs by asking that they ship together. A combined shipment will generally hold up the soft bound books, which should be finished first, about one week while they await the finish of the hard bound copies but all the books ship at the total rate weight, creating a lower cost. As an example of the savings, if you publish 1500 copies of a 256 page, 6 x 9 soft bound book along with 500 hard bound copies, and ship them from Michigan to New York you would save approximately $60 if they go in one shipment vs. shipping separately. To ship to California the savings would be about $90.

    X X X X

    We have some customers who have their local printers print their covers and jackets and send them to us to film laminate. We are happy to do this but we do have problems if the printers use sheet sizes that do not fit on the size of the webs of film that we stock. Here is how we run covers and jackets and how we prefer to laminate them.

    For 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" and 6 x 9" covers we use a 14 1/2" by 21 1/2" sheet and run them 2 out. On virtually all jackets we run one out (if jackets are run 2 out the sheet gets too large for us to laminate easily and without wrinkles) on sheets 23, 25 or 29" x 14 1/2". For printed cloth, we use 17 1/2 x 23". In each case, the laminating film roll is the width of the 2nd or larger dimension, not the 14 1/2" or 19" dimension.

    If your printer has any question about this please have them call us and ask what we need. It will help prevent problems later. A rule of thumb here is for covers to be at least 2 out (more out is ok if they will fit on one of the sheet sizes listed here) and jackets no more than 1 out.

    X X X X

    One nice thing about being out in the country and having our own lake on the property (we own 28 acres of which 1 is under water) is the wild life we see at work. In the past I've mentioned seeing deer, muskrats, minks, hawks, and blue herons from my office window. Well, now I've added a fox. A magnificent red fox came out of the woods at one end of our property and loped about 250 yards across our yard, (within 20 yards of my window) and into the woods on the other side. It was a really special experience.

    X X X X

    I'm sure you sports fans out there are aware that The University of Michigan just won the National Championship in Men's Swimming and came in 2nd in Women's Swimming. It ain't football but it still counts. And besides, when's the last time Ohio State won a National Championship in anything.

    X X X X

    In the last issue of Printer's Ink we mentioned that we have been sending several of our people to New Horizons for training in all sorts of areas of desktop publishing and electronic prepress. We suggested that publishers might want to look into something like this and we have had a big response to that. New Horizons is a national training organization with branches in over 20 cities. If you are interested in learning more about this technology they might be a good source. We could fax you a list of their locations if you like. Also, there are organizations that put out training tapes on desktop publishing and this is another interesting way to learn.

    X X X X

    Thomson-Shore will have a booth at the A.B.A. show. June 3rd through the 6th. It is #591. We will have a lap-top computer there with a modem hook up back to our estimating program so we could actually do a quote for you while you are visiting the booth.

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    If You Are Remotely Interested In The Internet, Please Read This

    A few months ago when our people first talked about getting a Thomson-Shore presence on the Internet I thought that sounded nice. I didn't know exactly what they meant by "presence" but it seemed like it should be worthwhile.

    Now I have had a demonstration of what we created and I am very impressed. If you have access to the Internet, dial up www.tshore.com. Here's an outline of what you will see.

    We have a menu that includes:

    1. Welcome: A picture of one of our two plants, a picture of Ned & Harry and a company history.
    2. A Plant Tour: This includes color photos and biographies of each person a customer is apt to talk with at T-S (each bio was written by the person), a description of operations that are done in each department and the equipment that does the work. You can move right from the reception area through the shipping department, meeting the people and learning about them and their work.
    3. Library: Here we include a reproduction of Printer's Ink (at least 4 weeks before it gets in the mail), all of our electronic prepress guidelines and ideas, our complete facility brochure, tips about how to work with printers, how to prepare halftones, paper specs, etc.
    4. Green Pages: Here we outline the T-S commitment to helping the environment, use of soy ink, recycled paper and our own T-S recycling program which, we believe, is the most extensive in the industry.
    5. What's New: Here we will feature everything that we've added to our Internet pages in the last 60 days.
    6. Quote request: This is a quote request sheet that's about identical to the card that is attached to Printer's Ink. You could fill it out any hour of the day and it is immediately transmitted to our Estimating Department.

    I think you will find this very interesting and very personal. As we get more experience with it, we should get still more useful stuff on the Internet and I believe it will become a very useful tool in communicating with customers and providing up-to-the-minute information on our capabilities. In addition to its use as a disseminator of information, you can use the Internet to send or receive electronic files or to send e-mail messages. To send or receive files, please give us a call and we'll tell you the procedure that accomplishes this.

    If you are not on the Internet but would like to gain access, most of the on-line services like Prodigy, America On-Line or CompuServe can provide this for you. You need to use a "Graphical Web Browser" and these services have that. Actually, performance over modem lines with the graphics switched on will probably be disappointing unless you can connect at 28.8 Kbps. If you don't have this (and you probably won't), you can turn the on-line graphics off and performance is much better. You can then selectively look at the graphic pages so you could still see what a particular person looks like.

    If you check out the T-S offering on the Internet, let us know what you think about it. We can add or delete things easily and we'll be happy to include anything on there that you feel would be helpful.

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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:

    Or you can check back here at our Web Server and always be able to download the latest electronic version of Printer's Ink.