15 Ways to Save Time and Money in Book Production
“Our suppliers came back to us with numerous suggestions, which we implemented,” says Maria Aneiro, director, manufacturing planning, Scholastic Inc. “We avoided price increases by extending contracts; we
increased volume for key suppliers to obtain price decreases; and we. reduced basis weight of some publications to lower costs.”
Educational publisher Cengage Learning also has worked with its paper suppliers to downgrade paper selections and, thus, reduce costs, according to Ken Brooks, senior vice president of global production and manufacturing services. “We’ve looked at lighter weight grades, papers with less wood content,” he says.
Brooks notes that Cengage monitored the paper selections of its competitors to ensure that any downgrades still would be on par with the competition.
Another important consideration when implementing changes that could affect the perceived quality of your product is your customer. “Our choices are customer-driven,” says Aneiro. “By closely managing our product specifications, we are able to optimize our value to our customers. Some customers are willing to pay a premium for a jacketed, Smyth-sewn, four-color hardcover book printed on 80-100# text stock, while others prefer to pay a fraction of the price for a saddle-wire, four-color paperback printed on 50-60# offset. [We] offer products for both of these customers.”
Brooks cautions that you must evaluate quality through your customers’ eyes, not your own. “Ask yourself, ‘How does the customer perceive quality?’ Some production and manufacturing folks’ standards of quality are very different than a customer’s,” he says.
The Importance of XML
Brooks also notes transitioning to an XML workflow—which Cengage initiated about four years ago—as a critical step in streamlining production processes. For publishers that have not yet converted to XML, Brooks recommends consulting with an experienced vendor.
One way that Cengage has been able to reduce costs as a result of having an XML workflow in place is through “mass customization” of book designs. Cengage now uses standardized templates to design its books; however, some variables within those templates, such as choice of color treatment or number of columns, enable a wide range of final products.