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State of the Printing and Paper Markets
April 1, 2004

A new year is upon us, and again we peer into our crystal ball. The goal: to try and forecast where two of our biggest costs are headed. For two years it was strongly believed that printing and paper costs had to go up, because we were experiencing historically low costs in those areas. We endured a 1-2-3 punch: the dot-com advertising crash, the Sept. 11th tragedy and subsequent wars, and financial debacles at major U.S. corporations. Yet we were still standing. In the past, any one of these events might have been enough to drastically alter the economy. Here all three occurred in

Reversal of Fortune
April 1, 2004

Online reverse auctions are transactions where one buyer and many sellers auction over the Internet, and bids decrease ('reverse') over time. Use of reverse auctions is growing. People are purchasing major printing services, under the false assumption that excess costs in the system are taken out, and that the traditional marketplace is inefficient. The printing industry has seen margins erode significantly over the past few years. Implementing the use of online reverse auctions is, at best, spurring artificial competition. Our data, compiled from two years of bidding online, indicates 50% of winning bidders are, ultimately, not awarded the work. The end result is a negative impact on

A Proactive Approach
April 1, 2004

Intellectual property drives the software industry, fueling technology and innovation investments. Yet the same advances that drove the computing revolution of the past decade—the Internet, the Web, e-mail, faster processors, cheap memory—have made the protection of intellectual property more difficult than ever. While technology companies tried many techniques to protect their products, virtually all these past techniques were rejected by consumers as unreliable and unfriendly. Today, software companies are turning to 'product activation' as a workable extension of the end-user license agreement. With growing consumer acceptance of activation, it's increasingly clear that activation strikes the elusive, yet necessary balance between user experience and software protection. But all activation

CIP4 Pain or Paradise?
April 1, 2004

Action Printing is an early success story in the printing industry's efforts to implement an integrated CIP4 workflow. We are using Creo's UpFront software to create CIP4 files for re-use in their prepress department, as well as in the department bindery, on a flat bed cutter and a saddle stitcher. We are currently working to expand our CIP4 network to include a CIP4-enabled folding machine, and to use CIP4 files created by our RIP to pre-set ink keys on sheetfed presses. We're focusing on adding CIP4 technology in every scenario where doing so will increase efficiency or reduce waste. Action Printing arrived at this advanced stage of

Why Software Training Is a Priority
April 1, 2004

Many factors keep leading companies at the top of their game. But consider this little-known fact: top companies spend twice as much on training than their competitors. These organizations have insight that others don't. A study from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), titled Profiting from Learning: Do Firms' Investments in Education and Training Pay Off?, reveals that training directly improves business. Companies that spent more on training per employee had a 45% higher total shareholder return (TSR) than the weighted average of the S&P 500, and an astonishing 86% higher TSR than firms in the bottom half of the ranking. With the rapid pace

This Is Print
April 1, 2004

Everyone who has worked with color proofs knows that proofing systems are fundamentally flawed. A color proofer represents the output of the offset press. Logic tells us the ideal proof comes from the same press as the final piece: a 'press proof'. Ideally, it would also be a sample piece—an actual bound book, folded collateral, or multi-piece direct mail vehicle—rather than a color swatch, mock-up, or comp. The high cost of offset make-ready and short-run printing make on-press proofing virtually impossible on an offset press. But with digital color presses, it's not only possible … it's happening for high-quality applications. One example: the perfect-bound book

The NORM in Workflows
April 1, 2004

There's been a new trend in digital workflows over the past several years. 'ROOM' workflows used to be the norm. But now 'NORM' workflows are fast becoming the norm (say that 10 times fast). Perhaps this isn't the boldest statement, but there are definite implications for publishers and printers. And, for those PDF purists, to set the record straight, both ROOM and NORM workflows can accept PDF files. First, let's define these two different workflow frameworks. ROOM stands for 'Rip Once Output Many'. In this type of workflow, pages are RIPped into an intermediate format, either unscreened raster or screened bitmap. These files are then

Into the New
April 1, 2004

It is estimated that 42% of the global wood harvested for industrial uses goes to paper production. Is it possible that the book publishing industry, a sector that depends heavily on paper production, can implement policies that help preserve endangered forests and biodiversity? Over 120 North American publishers believe it is possible, and they're working with the non-profit Green Press Initiative (U.S.) and Markets Initiative (Canada) to implement innovative production practices that have tangible environmental benefits. Innova, the root of the word innovation, means 'into the new'. The 'new' in this case is a growing movement among businesses to include social and environmental considerations into their

Applying Smart Customization to Publishing
April 1, 2004

In 2003, custom publishing was again the fastest growing publishing activity for academic and professional publishers, with most enjoying double-digit sales growth. But some publishers saw little or no profit margin improvement in their custom publishing activities. Why, then, do some custom publishers continue to outperform the industry in sales and profits, while others lag in one or both of these key performance indicators? A Booz Allen Hamilton study, titled Smart Customization, Profitable Growth Through Tailored Business Streams, provides insight into how some companies convert incremental revenue from custom products and services into a better bottom line. Companies who were 'smart customizers' "focused simultaneously on value creation

No More Big Squeeze
February 1, 2004

Book manufacturers and publishers used to squeeze each other to cut costs at the other's expense. Now they are cutting costs together in partnerships of convenience. Welcome to 2004. It's like 2003, only the recession's grip has lessened. Production managers continue to shave a penny here, save a dollar there, while keeping up hope that the vaunted recovery will hit their employer's slice of the book publishing industry soon. Meanwhile, large retail and bookstore chains are returning books by the truckload, according to industry regulars. This dilutes revenues and increases costs for the publishers, leaving them with diminished cash flow and pinched

Digital Paper Pitfalls
February 1, 2004

The paper selection process for books printed digitally differs radically from that of books destined for offset. What designers and production managers should know. Choosing the right paper for a book printed digitally can make or break such on-demand publishing projects. Digital paper has unique reflective, color, sensory, and operational characteristics compared to paper destined for, offset or other printing technologies. For example, digital paper has increased moisture, is smoother, and more dimensionally stable. The more precisely the edges are cut, the more efficiently the paper moves through the press. Digital papers are smoother than offset papers for good toner

A 'World's First' for 'World's Oldest' Bookbinder
February 1, 2004

Acme Bookbinding's newest worker can't get injured on the job when doing back-breaking work. The reason: It's a robot. One of the most labor-intensive and expensive tasks in our industry is the chore of cutting cover materials for hardcover bindings. Generally, cutting cover materials is not a problem for large edition bindings. Kolbus and Crawley have furnished the industry with equipment where cover materials cut from rolls are de-curled, and are either sheeted or cut to size, with remarkable efficiency. Still, lifting a 54" roll of covering material, and mounting it into a cloth cutting machine, is hard, back-breaking work. These days, with larger edition runs increasingly

Inside the Digital Paper Labs at Xerox and HP
February 1, 2004

Scientists compete to make certain their company's papers don't stick, curl, jam, or smear. But even the finest papers can send a print job amok if environmental conditions are ignored. We take paper sheets for granted, never giving a second thought to the ream of paper we load into the short run digital press, laser printer, or copying machine. But the company that sold the paper is probably obsessed with every scientific detail there is to know. That, in a nutshell, explains why digital press and related vendors are going to great lengths to develop, manufacture, and sell paper that doesn't foul

The Cyberschool Challenge
February 1, 2004

With few electronic textbooks to choose from, cyberschools are forging ahead with efforts to develop their own courseware. Traditional textbook publishers stand to lose. New book markets are emerging on the Internet that don't require readers 18 and older. Among them: education. The explosion of 'cyberschools' (also known as 'e-schools') is revolutionizing how educational materials are manufactured and distributed. Cyberschools have been growing in size and scope since they first appeared in the late 1990s. The Distance Learning Resource Network, a non-profit agency dedicated to improving education, pegs the number of students in online classrooms between 40,000 and 50,000 for the 2002-03

The Book Is Written. Now What?
February 1, 2004

A Philadelphia conference helps writers and publishers find their audience. Writing a good book is never easy, even for prolific authors. Just getting thoughts from brain to DOC file can take months, years, even decades. And that's just for starters. The writer has to get a publisher's acquisitions editor to take it on. Then there are rewrites, edits, indexing, photo shoots and illustrating, design and layout, and proofing. Even then, the hardest work remains to be done: finding an audience for the finished work. Without it, the author keeps a small advance as a consolation prize, but royalty checks for life? Forget

HarperCollins Borrows from DVD Model, Adds Bonus Features
January 10, 2004

One of the biggest advantages that comes with viewing a DVD is the behind-the-scenes features that makes buying the disc worthwhile. Now, HarperCollins and its Perennial imprint have integrated the concept into the realm of literature. A series of paperback books have been released as "P.S. Titles," and each contains a 16-page supplement with 'behind-the-pages interviews,' essays, articles, photos and illustrations that give readers a deeper understanding of the author's inspiration. Each P.S. Title is easily identified by a logo on its front and back covers, and the P.S. section itself has shaded edges. Ten well-known titles, such as the critically acclaimed "The

E-books' Impact on ROI
January 10, 2004

After several reboots, e-book publishing is seeing signs of growth. Recent sales figures compiled by the Open eBook Forum (OeBF) have given publishers an indication of what the future holds. And that future might be now. For the first quarter of 2004, e-books posted double-digit growth (28 percent), and though revenue is projected to be a modest $13 million for the year, sales are rising, and the OeBF, an international trade and standards organization for the electronic publishing industry, began tracking sales of trade titles via a monthly bestseller list in March. Given all the optimism, publishers have taken a harder look at their

Scholastic Tells Readers, "Expecto Paperbackum"
January 10, 2004

It seems as if a certain Phoenix is rising from gold rather than ashes. On Aug. 10, Scholastic released "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in paperback, after the hardback edition had already earned the title of the fastest-selling book in publishing history. To support the paperback release, Scholastic launched a $1 million marketing campaign that tackled all ends of the advertising spectrum. By partnering with Internet search engine giant Google, Scholastic reached millions of Google-goers throughout the summer. Radio promotions and billboard advertisements along the routes to popular summer destinations also helped to announce the news, and the campaign didn't

Inroads for the Electronic Slush Pile
December 1, 2003

Historically, an unpublished fiction author packages his manuscript in a cardboard box, mails it to one or more book publishers, and waits (and waits and waits) anxiously for a reply. The response is typically months away. Publishers can take nine to 12 months before they finish the process of reviewing a manuscript, giving copies to the poor saps who read the slush pile submissions, and usually sending a polite rejection letter. That's all done with paper, even now. But a few forward-thinking publishers are starting to modernize that process, visualizing the electronic slush pile as the tip of the electronic workflow. Science fiction publisher Baen Books, Bronx,

Potholes on the Road to Recycled
December 1, 2003

Committing to recycled paper is not an easy decision for a publisher. Here at New World Library, a 25-year-old publishing company known for books by personal growth pioneers Shakti Gawain (Creative Visualization), Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now), and Deepak Chopra (Seven Spiritual Laws of Success), it's been an incremental process. But each step forward has resulted in a more Earth-friendly product. Committing to use recycled paper was the first step. We became a member of the Green Press Initiative (GPI), a non-profit environmental advocacy group, to take advantage of their information, contacts, and planning assistance for converting to recycled and environmentally friendly publishing. GPI's planning