12 Profitable Book-Production Tips for Publishers and Printers
Book-production management is, in many respects, an act of faith. For some, faith in the universality of Murphy’s Law—if something can go wrong, it will. Or, faith that virtue is its own reward—if you do everything right, things will always come out right. Old hands come to realize that “trust but verify” is probably the most prudent maxim to apply in managing workflow. Without systems in place and proven procedures, we’d have to reinvent the wheel every time. But without an occasional revisit to the last batch of XBIT transactions or Job Definition Format (JDF) specifications sent through, that error in the PMS color or oversight in paper surface specs might not be caught.
It is also good to bear in mind that publishers are in a manufacturing business—and our physical plant is managed by our vendors of choice. Good communication and collaboration is an essential basic principle. Profitability in plant operation means efficiencies that translate into cost benefits for the publishing operation.
It is valuable for the print buyer to keep abreast of developments in technology and to network with other professionals and vendors: Attend industry expos at least once a year (the upcoming annual Publishing Business Conference and Expo, March 10-12, 2008, is the major one); go to targeted printing trade events and regional book-builder educational programs (Bookbuilders West, Chicago Book Clinic, Bookbuilders of Boston, and the Bookbinders’ Guild of New York); and follow trade publications such as Book Business and Printing Impressions.
Be on the lookout for print industry webinars and familiarize yourself with the resources of Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF) and TAPPI, the printing and paper industry trade associations. Send your production staff to relevant workshops and conferences hosted by the Book Industry Study Group, International Digital Publishing Forum and PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, and to summer publishing courses such as those sponsored by NYU, Stanford, Columbia, University of Iowa, University of Denver and Simon Fraser University in Canada.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.