12 Profitable Book-Production Tips for Publishers and Printers
For some insight on the tried-and-true as well as the new, I got in touch with a cross-section of vendors to offer some reminders of what works and why it is valuable to be both virtuous and skeptical.
Courier (www.Courier.com) is the third-largest book manufacturer in the United States, and last year shipped 200 million books from its six networked U.S. plants. It is unique in the industry since it also owns (and prints for) Dover Publications, Creative Homeowner and REA, with 10,000 titles in print among them.
Vice President Peter Tobin shares his tips for optimizing workflow management:
1. Take advantage of one-stop shopping. Whenever possible, cut a single purchase order to a single vendor to deliver all the manufacturing services you need every step along the way. This is especially true, for example, for placement of component orders—covers, jackets, etc.—for which you will pay only for the quantity delivered on bound books.
2. Utilize automatic Internet data exchanges with your trading partners—using XBITS, a set of book industry standard specifications for encoding business transactions (developed by the IDEAlliance; www.IDEAlliance.org/xbits). Typically, Tobin observes, the variable cost of processing an XBITS order is 1 percent the cost of a paper-based order!
3. Use online proofing and file approval. Collaborate with the manufacturer and train production staff to use soft proofing/approval. Publishers can customize the approval process to be managed entirely online.
Setting up online data exchange and online proofing/approval with your book manufacturer “places transactions in real time, enabling both the publisher and the printer to save time, cost and effort in the exchange of information, as compared to FedEx, mail and phone calls,” Tobin says.
Founded in 1997, Lightning Source (www.LightningSource.com)—an Ingram Industries-owned printing plant in LaVergne, Tenn.—is known for its book-at-a-time, toner-based digital-printing prowess. To date, it has delivered more than 45 million books, now producing them at the rate of about 1.2 million/month on 19 black-and-white lines and 12 four-color lines. It also handles conventional offset printing. With more than 500,000 titles in its digital library ready to drive its presses, it has shipped as many as 44,000 different titles in a peak day.
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.