Special Report: Today’s Global Sourcing Market
“Most books that we print overseas are full-color books,” notes Cathy Craley, head of production. “It’s just more cost-effective to print them overseas … [and] China is still pretty much the place.”
There are signs that China’s hold on the manufacturing market may be loosening just slightly, however. Countries like Vietnam are said to be beginning to benefit from rising prices in China—for labor, paper and oil—and are getting a second look from some companies.
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Manufacturing aside, India, with its well-educated, English-speaking workforce, has expanded as a site for outsourced content management services and seems to be the place best assured for continued rapid growth.
When it comes to production and content, “India has an advantage over China,” Singh says. “English became the language that unified the country. China will eventually catch up, but China has a manufacturing mindset that’s colossal.”
Aquent Offshore’s typesetting, indexing, proofreading, image editing and design services are all outsourced to India—Mumbai and, beginning this year, the high-tech hub of Bangalore (or Bengaluru).
Schaefer says that India has proven ideal for Aquent’s labor-intensive keyboarding and typesetting work, such as updating educational materials to include the mandated Department of Education Braille system, and rekeying long-out-of-print books for electronic formats. More recently, the company has moved into Flash animation, image editing, 3-D modeling and some graphic design and illustration work from its India offices.
Schaefer says the limits of outsourcing usually come with highly conceptual projects that require brainstorming and close collaboration between parties, such as those involving the establishment and execution of a brand.
“We wouldn’t have that over a conference call with someone [thousands of] miles away,” she says. “We’d need to be there in the office to understand the products, the colors and what the goals are.”