Publisher Perspective - Book Manufacturing Turnaround Times
By Rose Blessing
The top brass at printing companies insist that their top priority is finding ways to meet publishers' demands for faster turnaround times, an August feature in this magazine reported. Now, a look at how print buyers view this trend
Assistant Production Manager
Now and then Diane Grossman asks for a miracle from her printers--and gets it. Yet overall she has not noticed faster industry job turnaround times since joining Academic Press nearly two years ago, she says. On the whole, turnaround times have never been a problem area, possibly because she's able to give her suppliers advance warning, which helps her get good schedules, and also because, unlike college and high-school publishers, she usually has a few days' scheduling flexibility.
Grossman, who is based in Chestnut Hill, MA, buys print manufacturing services for both the Academic Press and the AP Professional divisions of Harcourt Brace & Company. Academic Press titles are mostly casebound. For those titles she has come to expect five-week turnarounds; for APP's softback products she receives two-to-three-week turnarounds for offset printing. For reprints, she expects slightly faster turnarounds, since with the files or film on hand, the printer already has a running start. Most of Academic Press' print runs are under 10,000.
"If we were to get a three-week turnaround for a case-bound book, that would be extremely fast," she says. Yet she has asked for it and gotten it; whether it is posssible for a particular book depends on the printers' existing customers and their cycles. "A few of our printers have been responsive when we've needed it, and we do give them warning."
Recently, in what she describes as not just a routine print job but an "episode," she needed nearly 2,000 copies of one book printed in three days. "They did it!" she exclaims.