Print or not to Print seems to be the question on the minds of many these days, but there is no black and white answer to that question. Being a printer my answer would have to be Print with out question, but I am also a technology geek and the digital offerings of e-books & digital publications are very cool. As a consumer and an avid magazine and comic collector for many years, having a tangible piece of material is essential. You could collect digital comic books but there really is no way to showcase them and where is the collectible value.
The magazines that can afford to have their subscriptions delivered to you on your tablet or smart phone in seconds offer some very cool features printing just doesn’t have. On December 13, 2012 Newsweek magazine released it last printed issue and will be 100% digital for 2013. Not only can you read the articles, but also you can interact with the articles and watch videos link to pages while reading this publication. Pretty cool stuff, but I would much rather go to a newsstand and pick up a copy and read it the old fashion way. And if you don’t have a tablet or a smart phone, I guess they lose you as a customer.
So how do you choose, what is the right fit for you or your company? I think it is a combination of both, print for those of us that want to collect or just be old fashioned & slick and technical for those who have the technology to view it.
Either way I say PRINT!!
Coating questions always are coming up during the day. Should this job have varnish, aqueous coating, spot or overall, gloss, satin or matte? Well there are some options so let’s list them.
Standard Varnish and Coating options
Gloss Coating or Varnish – Will increase the gloss
Satin Coating or Varnish – Will maintain a similar gloss to the paper on most gloss papers
Satin Coating or Varnish – Will increase the gloss of the paper and ink slightly
Matte Coating or Varnish – Will dull the ink and maintain the finish of the paper
Matte Coating or Varnish – Will protect the print but not be visible (it’s level of protection may vary on the type of finish)
The above is a good basis for most jobs; some applications require a different effect and should always be discussed to achieve the expected finish.
Even though my prepress department is full of people with degrees in graphic design, only a small portion of our hours at the office is devoted to actual design work. We’ve chosen to work in the slightly less glamorous side of design known as prepress. And we love it. Each prepress operator in my group has a mac and a pc on their desk with all of current design apps loaded on them. We also have some heavy duty equipment in our arsenal, namely our PDF editors – Pitstop and Neo.
While the design world has trended toward online and digital media, some schools have dropped prepress from their graphic design curriculums. While that is great if someone only intends to build websites and products designed to be read by e-readers, it can make the transition to print challenging. That’s where prepress departments come in. Prepress operators know how to prepare files so they are print ready. Or how to take a non-print-ready file and do the necessary fixes that will allow it to print correctly.
Some of the tasks we perform regularly are: adding or extending bleed to files that don’t have them, adding crop marks, changing rgb or cmyk files to spot colors, resizing documents, adjusting panel sizes for folded pieces and more. In most cases, these adjustments are made in PDFs. There was a time when these changes required the native files, which added time to the job and pushed the print schedule out. Now with programs like Neo and Pitstop that’s often not necessary. So, the next time you have changes to a job and all you have is a PDF, give us a call – chances are we’ll be able to fix your file.
It seems that when we look at the cost of a typical printing job most of the focus is on the actual “print” production cost, when in fact a recent study performed by Infotrends showed that on average only 30% of the total cost is actually the print. The majority of the cost involved in producing a printed document is in the design, collection of assets, edits, revisions, internal approvals and the distribution of the printed product. All of these labor intensive steps need to be calculated into the total cost of producing a document for either online use or for print. The most neglected area of cost consideration is the aftermath of the printed product, how will it be distributed, how will it be stored, who manages the inventory, what is done with left over product, etc. We will call all this soft cost the “print job management” or “PJM”. (Just what the world needs is another acronym). So when considering the cost involved in producing a document all the PJM costs must be included to realize the true financial impact for evaluating a return on your investment.
One clear way to mitigate the cost involved is simply not to produce the document at all. Well for those of us who have a true internal, customer request or marketing need to produce a document there is the solution of Print-On-Demand. POD (o.m.g. another acronym) can help to cut out much of the soft cost involved with PJM (Print Job Management). By creating a central web portal that houses your documents and allows for document editing, much of the PJM costs will be reduced. Picture in your mind all the steps involved with submitting files, proofing, editing, approving proofs, forwarding emails, securing print quantities, etc. Now picture taking all those steps away or at least streamlining them into an efficient online work flow. With online print ordering, online inventory management, data list uploads, tracking history, automated PDF proofing are just a few of the tools that will help to reduce that nasty PJM cost.
There has always been a trend to also justify the PJM costs by increasing print run length so there will sure to be documents left over for future use. Well we all know how that goes, they never get used and turn to waste (we have a warehouse of obsolete product to prove it). In a POD program that obsolete inventory rarely happens. You only print what you need with no waste, unless a field rep over orders for a trade show. So now think about the PJM again in relation to the print cost, what happened? The print cost is now actually a smaller part of the whole, but more importantly both expenses are down. The PJM cost is reduced by using an online POD portal and the print cost is also reduced as you will be printing smaller quantities only when needed.
All this food for thought does not apply to every situation but it does apply if you are using repetitive documents of any kind over and over. For the direct mailer who launches one or two large bulk mailings a year this logic does not apply.
So, if I leave you with anything it would be to be careful when evaluating “print” costs and be sure to calculate in all the “soft” costs needed to produce a document. I am sure that if you weigh in all the steps, time and labor you will find that the amount is significant and opens an area for cost reduction discussions.
In response to Elaine’s post about the value of print, it’s worth noting that not all people under 40 hate print. My daughter Emily actually wrote and presented an essay extolling the virtues of print for her freshman Speech class last year. In her speech she made several arguments against the use of e-readers, including the carbon footprint left behind by various tech devices. I suppose I should also mention that she is working on her Library Science degree.
She’s not the only 20-something who feels that way. In an interview on NPR on January 29th, Facebook Co-Founder and publisher of The New Republic Chris Hughes (29) had this to say about print, “We make money off of print. And in addition to that, I personally love print. I mean, I tend to read on my phone and my iPad, but on the weekends in particular, I love sitting down with a print magazine and going page by page. So, it makes business sense for us, and it also is something that I love. So we’re committed to print for the foreseeable future.”
So, don’t believe all the gloom and doom. There is definitely hope for paper and print. The best part is when you pick up a book or a magazine you know it won’t start going dim or stop working after 3 to 8 hours. No batteries required.
Read the full NPR interview with Chris Hughes here:
So you have been tasked with writing another corporate blog. Why not make it the “BBE” Best Blog Ever? Here’s some simple Top 9 tips for writing your BBE.
1. Make it brief – 1000 words or less.
2. Write in short snip-its of information.
3. Content should be useful and interesting. Your reader should benefit from the information.
4. SEO – optimize your blog to be SEO friendly.
5. Prompt the reader to action – whether it’s to post a comment or direct the reader to another place.
6. Well written and easy to follow. Proof it! Proof for content, grammar, and ease of reading. Remember, you only have your readers attention for a few short minutes.
7. Format & Image
Keep a consisent format to your blog design and add an image if you can. Images can make a great impact but you don’t necessarily need one in every blog.
8. Name your blog. BBE – Best Blogs Ever have powerful headlines or names. It should be something that’s easily searchable and attracts the readers’ attention.
9. Have fun with your Blogging! Smile while writing it. It shows through your blog.
Just received an email this week from Michael Makin, the President and CEO of the Printing Industries of America, where he informs us that yet another major corporation- Google- is bashing the print industry. Now, I personally love Google – it is my search engine of choice but come’on guys let’s play fair.
Here are some excerpts from Mr. Makin’s letter:
“Once again our industry is under attack, and this time it is from Google, which has launched an initiative titled “Go Paperless in 2013.” It is joined in this effort by a number of digital companies which clearly have a vested interest in a non-paper communications stream.
Needless to say we find such a proposal ridiculous and an insult to the almost one million Americans who owe their livelihood to our industry.
The primary raw material for printing is paper, which comes from trees, which are a renewable resource—so renewable that today our country has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Earth Day, which was held more than 40 years ago.
Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint—all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic devices, which Google produces, for example, require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources.”
Visit our Linkedin or Facebook page to read more on the Value of Print.
written by Jim Stiles, CEO
It is not uncommon for a school, with a well known image and look, to want to stay with the images and message they have used in the past. If the picture of the clock tower on campus has become the mainstay image then why change it up. If the past dozen mailings used the clock tower image then why can’t the new cross media campaign just repeat it as well? Have you ever heard the saying “What is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. Unfortunately, I find that schools frequently fall into this trap. In today’s advertising world our readers are getting barraged with information and marketers must capture the reader’s attention in less than 6 seconds with a printed piece and 2 -3 seconds with a web landing page. So, is it possible that the old clock tower could be failing at the job?
Most marketing managers faced with this dilemma need to focus on what the goal of the campaign is. If the goal is simply wider brand recognition then the clock tower may be just the thing. If the goal is to get attention and solicit response from the reader then the clock tower needs to be replaced with a great “Call to Action” and some very eye catching quick bullet point messaging. My point is, if you are going to experiment and test new marketing tools like a cross media campaign then you may want to think about dumping the old tag line and image for a new look with powerful content.
This is especially true when you integrate variable content and imagery into a campaign. Now the message and imagery can be tailored to the recipient’s personal interests. How powerful is that? So, next time let’s try to lose the clock tower and stay away from the school logo or crest centered on a direct mailer. Be creative! Be diverse!
Here’s the scenario – a customer or designer sends a file, usually an ad book or something with sponsors and the logos used are pixilated and fuzzy. Often the person who created the piece grabbed a gif or a jpeg from the sponsor or advertiser’s website. In almost every case – these images are low-res and I am asked the question “Can you do something to make it look better?” The answer is usually yes, but it may take some time.
Here is where I look when I am asked to find a good logo:
1. The first thing I do is look in a folder we keep on our server where we store commonly used logos.
2. If it’s not there, the next place I look is in our dvd archives. If we have printed something with that logo before, it should show up on a search – providing that the image file was given a name that I can easily find, not something ambiguous like logo.tif.
3.If I have no luck with the first two options, then I go online. There are a couple very good sites that offer high quality vector logos for free.
4. The fourth place I look, and this one is my personal favorite, is on the advertiser’s website. I don’t go after the low-res jpegs and gifs, but I search newsletters, catalogs or press releases. In many cases companies post PDFs of printed pieces online, which have high-quality logos on them. If I can find a good logo (preferably vector art) I extract it with either Illustrator or Pitstop.
5. As a last resort, we can recreate a logo from scratch in Illustrator. This is the most time consuming and therefore most costly alternative.
So, don’t settle for poor quality logos for your printed project, there is almost always a way to make a low-quality piece look sharper and more professional.
Have you ever received a pdf proof from your printer (say that 5 times fast) that doesn’t look quite right? Maybe the color is so far off that you couldn’t believe that they used the right file. It might not be wrong at all, it could be that you need to change a setting in Acrobat.
Sometimes, your printer will use a technique when preparing your file that may make your proof appear incorrect if a setting called Overprint Preview in Acrobat is turned off. And, of course, off is the default setting for many of the older versions of Acrobat Reader. The technique I’m referring to employs the use of remapping one or more process colors to Pantone colors in a pdf editing program such as Pitstop or Neo. Or, in other words, telling one color to be something completely different. Through this process either Cyan, Magenta, Yellow or Black is assigned to print as a Pantone color. This can also be used for grayscale images.
Below is a screen capture from a pdf that has a grayscale image of a truck remapped to Pantone 370 C in Pitstop. Both sides are the same pdf but the image on the left is what the pdf looks like with Overprint Preview turned off, the one on the right is when it is turned on.
In your Acrobat preferences you can specify whether Overprint Preview mode is on only for PDF/X files, never on, always on, or set automatically. I recommend having it set to always on. Hopefully this tip will help eliminate a headache or two.