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Momentum Building for Green Books
October 1, 2003

The U.S. book publishing industry consumed approximately 1.1 million tons of book paper in the year 2000. That required cutting down an estimated 25 million trees. Figures for 2001, published in 2002 by the American Forest and Paper Association, report 914,000 tons of paper were used for U.S. book publishing. Trees required to meet demand: 19 million. Yet the average recycled content level (by fiber weight) across printing and writing grades is only 5%. The disparity between the ecological impact of publishing versus the meager levels of recovered materials in paper is driving responsible publishers to be part of the solution, instead of the problem. To date,

How to Deal with Problems at Your Printer
October 1, 2003

The author has turned in the final manuscript. The editorial and design work are complete. Marketing efforts are under way. The proofs looked great, and the book has gone to the printer. The F&G's (folded and gathered signatures) of your new title arrive in the morning overnight package. That's when the real fun begins. You discover, to your horror, that all the pages slant downhill away from the spine. And the halftones didn't reproduce properly! Now what? No matter how careful we are or how thoroughly we plan, occasional printing problems are inevitable. As print buyers, we're tasked (indeed, challenged) to deal with these shortcomings. And we

Antarctica Bound
October 1, 2003

With an emphasis on computerized design and workflow; increased use of digital, on-demand and cross-media output; and populist—indeed, personal editorial standards, modern book publishing bears little resemblance to the craft practiced a generation ago. Some in the industry worry that the joined-at-the-hip crafts of publishing and printing are epochs approaching an end. In the future, anyone with an Internet connection and digital cash will be able to publish a nice looking (and, hopefully, nice reading) hardbound, softbound, or e-book. One, some, or all three. Readers will buy them online, for an e-pittance, in numbers unthinkable today, along with the classics, pop titles, textbooks,

Binding Race Heats Up
October 1, 2003

Books-on-demand (BOD) systems have long promised a more convenient, responsive, and cost-effective way to get titles to readers, especially when dealing with short-runs or backlists. Now one BOD system manufacturer, Powis Parker Inc., is saying its thermal binding technology is more productive, too. Powis Parker pitted its recently upgraded Fastback 15 binding system against Ibico's Ibimatic. In an in-house test, Powis Parker officials say their thermal binding equipment performed five-times faster than Ibico's punch-and-bind system for meeting perfect binding requirements. "As books get larger, it takes longer to bind them, and thus it costs more," says Kevin Parker, president of Powis Parker, in Berkeley, Calif. "For a

California Mandates Lighter Textbooks
August 1, 2003

A hefty challenge to create lighter textbooks is on deck for publishers next year. A law recently passed in the trend-setting state of California calls for maximum weight limits on all elementary and secondary school textbooks. The deadline for these limits to be set: July 1, 2004. The law was drafted in response to parents who were "incensed over the heavy backpacks their children have been forced to carry to school each day," says Elise Thurau, a senior consultant to Democratic California Senator Jackie Speier, and a principal co-author of the legislation. The legislation was supported by chiropractors, pediatricians, and the United States Consumer

Reach for the Top
August 1, 2003

As the world turns, so does the book manufacturing industry. International affairs brought both pessimism and hope to an industry still in the throes of a sputtering global economy. On the upside: a new Harry Potter title and Hillary Clinton's memoirs have legions of readers shelling out cash at bookstores nationwide. Indeed, the Association of American Publishers, Washington, reports U.S. book sales rose 5.5% in 2002, to $27 billion—proving once again that, no matter how bad things seem, you can't keep a good book down. Or a good book manufacturer. Despite competitive market conditions, high unemployment, war in the Middle East, a dearth of

Cover Up
August 1, 2003

There's a reason one of the world's most popular maxims is, "never judge a book by its cover." That's because everybody judges a book by its cover. Traditional or fancy, plain or electric, simple or three-dimensional, a cover says a lot about the text inside, and the imprint (and printers) behind it. Last issue's cover story on how publishers are using eye-catching covers to boost sales and improve positioning on retailer's shelves was an instant hit with readers, because publishers know that great covers sell great books. That's why they design them to stand out and be judged. The high level of enthusiasm for

Inking a Better Cover
August 1, 2003

Whether through unique substrates, sizes, shapes, or finishing processes such as foil stamping or embossing, publishers need to create distinctive covers that stand out in a competitive marketplace. Today's book buyers, including those in the educational market, see unique effects as the norm, not the exception. Book covers need to be remarkable enough for customers to pay attention. But buyers don't want to pay more to get more. With trade book buyers pinching pennies, and school districts cutting budgets, publishers must deliver these dazzling cover looks for less cost and effort. Publishers are forced to find inexpensive ways to produce unmatched effects. Several innovative printing options, such

Cover Story
May 1, 2003

The numbers tell the story. There are 145,000 book titles vying for attention on bookseller's shelves. That's up a mere 3% over last year, according to market researcher R. R. Bowker, with little prospect for growth in this stalled economy. Book publishers have limited options to capture the attention of buyers. One tactic is increasingly popular: a striking cover. Vivid colors, metallic foil and inks, ultraviolet-cured compounds, 3D holograms, lenticular motion graphics—all are techniques finding favor with book designers and marketers. Intended to grab the eye or titillate the touch, these design techniques stand out, attracting readers to the detriment of lesser-styled competing

Demand for Recycled Grows
May 1, 2003

The drive for recycled paper in the book industry seems to be picking up speed. Twenty-five U.S. publishers have signed a letter of intent to begin phasing in post-consumer recycled paper over the next three to five years. Indeed, publishers throughout North America are beginning to take strong stands on recycled paper. Canadian firms, such as Broadview Press of Calgary, Alberta, are making similar commitments. The U.S. effort is spearheaded by the Green Press Initiative (GPI), a non-profit effort dedicated to preserving forests and natural resources. "We're trying to mobilize the book publishing sector," says Tyson Miller, program director for the

Hands Across the Water
May 1, 2003

Integrated Book Technologies Inc. (IBT Global), a leading U.S. digital book manufacturer, is partnering with Biddles Ltd., one of Great Britain's top book manufacturers. The companies hope pairing their organizations will provide multinational marketing advantages. The cost of manufacturing and shipping short-run books overseas is around $2.50 per unit, decimating a title's earning potential. And the costs of managing unsold overseas copies make expenses even more onerous, says Mark Tracten, director of American operations for Crown House Publishing Ltd., in the U.K. Tracten was IBT Global's first customer, when he owned and operated publishing company Brunner/Mazel Inc., in the U.K., a decade ago. Tracten

E-Books Check Out
May 1, 2003

Public libraries are embracing e-books, thanks to technological advances that solve rights management issues, and soothe publisher fears. In March, the Cleveland Public Library, in Ohio, became the first public library to offer an e-book system. About 1,000 books, ranging from new releases like Michael Crichton's Prey to classic literature, are available as e-books. They can be checked out exactly like non-electronic titles. The service is available inside a library branch, or over the Internet. It lets readers download publications onto personal computers and digital assistants. New digital rights management (DRM) software is managing the downloads. After two weeks, the downloaded e-books expire, and

Time Machine
May 1, 2003

There's only one way a print shop makes money: When the presses are running. When presses are idle, jobs are delayed, worker productivity plummets, and customers start screaming. Excluding system failures, the biggest culprit behind downtime is the make-ready process. That's when operators shut presses down to adjust paper size, ink settings, and feeders. Make-ready limits how many jobs printers can fit in an eight-hour shift. But some press manufacturers offer technology that cuts make-ready time to zero. They're called, appropriately enough, zero-make-ready (ZMR) presses. "The time it takes from form to form, plus how many signatures of waste you create form

Prepress Bloopers
May 1, 2003

Digital prepress, the conversion of electronic information about text and graphics into output-ready form, is a crucial aspect of book manufacturing. But it takes more than looking good on a computer screen for titles to translate from bytes to ink on paper. When things go well, prepress production reflects modern technology at its best. But incorrectly prepared electronic files wreak production havoc, and are the top cause of production delays, surcharges, and missed delivery dates. Here are the most common causes of prepress problems, as nominated by a team of technical experts at R.R. Donnelley, in New York. If your organization hasn't been tripped

Borders, Costco Kiss Off Sterling
May 1, 2003

The acquisition of Sterling Publishing by Barnes & Noble led two major retailers to terminate their relationship with the niche book publisher. Costco Inc. and Borders Group Inc. stopped carrying titles published by Sterling. They say Sterling's purchase by bookseller Barnes & Noble transformed the publisher from vendor to competitor. Barnes & Noble acquired New York-based Sterling for $110 million in December. "We had a good relationship with Sterling, one that worked well for both companies," says Jenie Carlen, public relations manager with Borders Group Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich. "However, there is a fundamental business conflict. Barnes & Noble is a competitor.

Ames Eases Content Conversion
May 1, 2003

Ames On-Demand has released a new version of its popular BookBuild online ordering and content management system. The new release helps publishers better communicate with creative staff, and more easily reuse content across multiple publications, company officials say. It remains directly connected to Ames' high-speed digital presses, allowing custom publishers to manage content, order, and printing entirely online. The update, dubbed version 3.0, provides publishers and writers with a centrally shared, secure publication repository. Users can upload and store content as separate elements, such as chapters, tables of contents, and graphics. Using an online form, publishers can drag+drop the content into templates, get

TV Host Puts Supply Chain to the Test
May 1, 2003

Book editors, publicists, and marketers sent a collective "thank you" to media queen Oprah Winfrey, when the Association of American Publishers presented her with its AAP Honors award. The reason for the award: Oprah's Book Club, a wildly popular segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The segment routinely turned titles into bestsellers. But while publishers love the show's impact on revenues, dealing with massive, often unexpected surges in demand can vex even the most efficient supply chain. The format of Oprah's Book Club was simple and effective. Winfrey chose a novel, then broadcast a reader discussion and author interview. The first book featured: The

Publishing Mean and Lean
March 1, 2003

We've always known it's smart to collaborate. Now we're realizing it's stupid not to. This is one of the profound effects of the digital publishing revolution. Before the digital era, it was easy to talk about cooperation and teamwork, and then go about our business much as we always had. Graphic designers didn't have to care about how an editor did their work. Editors didn't have to care about production technology. The printer didn't care how the publisher created those stacks of repro, the publisher didn't care if the printer "fixed" mistakes found at the last minute. And those shadowy figures at the periphery of the

Growth on Demand
March 1, 2003

When the industry's final results are in, 2002 won't rank as one of publishing's best years. With few bright spots to point to, publishers across every segment are wondering what catalysts will reignite growth? Publishers used to know the answer to that question. Growth was created by acquiring authors who, in turn, wrote great books. This year, the question is hard to answer. Sure, acquiring competent authors and great content are as important as ever. But thanks to industry consolidation, there are usually less than five major competitors, within nearly every publishing segment. This means fewer publishers are fighting for a few great authors, and fighting

Creating the Right XML Workflow
March 1, 2003

Technology is changing publishing faster than ever before. Today we need to publish more information faster, and deliver it in many ways: print, PDF, HTML, XML. Paper-based workflows can't do it. But radically overhauling a paper-based system to digital workflow can traumatize an organization and its publications. To be successful, publishers must re-evaluate their workflow, and consider the organization's business goals. Without clear business goals driving technological advancements, projects can and do veer off course, and fail to produce anticipated benefits. Consider this example: A publisher develops a new digital workflow around XML, and includes a DTD with many elements (DTD stands for "document type definition,"