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Commentary & Analysis

Letters to ODJ

GASC Comments on GOA /

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 24, 2005

GASC Comments on GOA / Xplor Alliance In response to your "Editor's Chair" column regarding the evolution of tradeshows in the graphic arts industry, there are some assertions made that may need some correction. While many of the general points you make in the article I find to be valid, especially those regarding industry convergence and the idea that maximizing attendee value and exhibitor ROI through co-location of events is a good idea. Some assertions made in the name of Graphics of the Americas are a little further a field. You are correct in the assertion that education is a key to advancing the value of tradeshows, although it is not the only one, and that this education sometimes takes the form of Pavilions and specialized conferences. In fact, pavilions at Graph Expo and Converting Expo, specifically the Mailing & Fulfillment Center and the Wide Format Pavilion have both shown phenomenal growth over the last four years since their inception. These types of displays help expose large segments of the general printing population to new technologies and show how they represent business opportunities for print professionals. The larger issues related to the article are in regard to GOA's "International-ness," and prospects for the future. While GOA has gained a reputation as being an international event, a quick check of the attendee database indicates that while much of the Caribbean basin would seem to be served, most of the attendees are actually based here in the US. (The fact that a large number of attendees speak Spanish, one should not assume they are from a foreign country.) The level of effort required for them to attend is minimal, compared to representatives of foreign corporations actually getting on a plane and making the trip themselves. Most of what you see there are actually US-based distributors or representatives, who don't have actual buying power and are there only to investigate and eventually make recommendations on technology, as well as for the social aspects of the event. To actually capture buyers in the Latin American market, an event like PRINT & CONVERTING is a better bet for exhibitors. At PRINT 01, international attendees numbered in the many thousands, and over 25 percent of those were actually from Latin American countries, not the US representative office. Of the 19 Latin American countries included in Central and South American continents, 17 were represented by buyers at PRINT 01, and more are expected for this year's event in Chicago. Enticing US reps to get on a plane from Georgia to Florida, is nowhere near the feat required to entice foreign corporate buyers from Sao Paulo to Chicago. The draw is there, and the Latin American market can be reached more effectively there. Regarding GOA's journey to "come surging back" from hard times, and to be "clearly successful with increased vendor support and over 22,000 visitors," I would suggest that all things are relative. In reality, that "increased vendor support" resulted in the event contracting significantly in size, using only three small halls as opposed to four in prior years. Attendance density seemed at a low point this year, even when compared to the relatively fuller 2004 event. While that "success may have been hampered by a lack of a strong conference," I suspect it had more to do with the lack of anything interesting to see or learn that can't be had elsewhere to a greater degree. While Xplor has indeed offered quality programs in the past, that has not been enough to keep it afloat, and in the face of severe decline, (their tradeshow no longer exists) the co-location with GOA is likely not enough to reverse that trend in today's climate. While the "merging" of the educational component of Xplor and the trade event of GOA may be beneficial to the organizers by keeping them both solvent by playing to their strengths, for real return on exhibitors' investments in money and attendees' time, a better deal can be had elsewhere. Dave Poulos Director of Communications Graphic Arts Show Company Response to John Giles December article Are You Up to Date? With regards to John Giles' article "Are You Up to Date," (ODJ, Dec. 13, 2004) your comments about operating systems and applications are right on point but I have to differ with you on PDF. My company is a digital printer that has been in business for 8 years. We deal with a wide variety of customers who use many different applications to build files so we are proficient in all of the mainstream art and layout applications, both Mac and PC. Most of our long term customers send us native files for their work. We accept PDFs from very few, and only after we have spent quite a bit of time with them. Why? Because customers make mistakes and PDFs are extremely difficult to edit compared to native files. Though Adobe and others promote PDF as a format that makes things easier that is only the case when the customer is willing to accept the output they submitted to their printer. If the file needs work, missing bleeds, pictures that don't fill boxes, spelling corrections, color work, trapping, etc., they will usually be much better off if their printer has the native files, assuming the printer is willing to make the changes. You say PDF has become the standard format to solve the customer-related print problems. How? Try changing the format of a paragraph of type in a PDF. Then try in InDesign or Quark Xpress. How about opening an image box to create bleed. Type changes and missing bleeds are two very common customer-related print problems and trying to correct them in a PDF eats up a lot of time compared to using the native files. It seems to me that on demand delivery of printing has put the designers in a time crunch because their bosses think with computers involved everything can happen quickly. Smaller staffs and shorter deadlines mean even the best people make mistakes. Poorly calibrated monitors and color laser printers can lead a designer to expect different colors from what a properly calibrated CMYK printer produces. PDF may be a better way to transfer information but it is not the way to deal with many problems that occur in the normal process of getting files ready to print. I don't know about other printers but if a majority of my customers submitted work as PDFs my turn around times would increase, along with my processing costs. PDF does not make things easier, either for my customers or for me. John Roberds President Odyssey Digital Printing John Giles Responds: I'm sorry you disagree about how PDF files can help when accepting customer-created files. You may want to check out www.gain.org for information on how to fix those problems you said you were having with the PDF files. Those issues can be addressed with a number of PDF plug-ins. PIA/GATF has a number of publications that offer step by step solutions to numerous PDF issues. As to the industry standardizing on PDF, that's the reality for many printers. In fact, the industry is moving past PDF and is now working toward JDF workflows. The trade shows this past year were full of vendors showing off their JDF systems. Every major vendor is designing equipment and software around a JDF and PDF workflow. If you don't have the right tools or the trained staff, PDFs can be a hassle. If you don't control how customers create a PDF, the chances of file failure is high. When a customer creates a file, he becomes part of the printer's workflow. The printer is responsible for providing the customer with the standards and information that will help them avoid problems. If the customer is educated by the printer and knows what is expected, then there will be very little problems with their files. I hope you will continue to explore the PDF workflow. My clients are moving in that direction and are enjoying increased profits and less production time because of it. --JG



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