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Letters to ODJ: More readers write about education and printing

May 4,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: May 4, 2005

May 4, 2005 -- Letters continue arriving regarding the issues surrounding making printing careers attractive to high school and even college students. This week we hear from Kathy Lauerman, President of the Printing & Imaging Association Mountain States about a gap in how the printing industry is described. Then Bernd Blumberg from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Germany comments on Michael Josefowicz's letter last week. And Michael responds. All these touch on the evolving business of printing that is becoming increasingly linked to electronic media. This shift is changing the types of jobs, the skills required to do them and the very business models needed for success. Finally, FedEx Kinko's PR agency talks about wide format. Do you have something you want to get off your chest? Is there an ODJ columnist you want to throw praises--or rocks--at? Just shoot us an email and you'll likely find your words in the Letters column. Onward! Noel Ward Executive Editor -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear ODJ: With respect to informing students about print as a career option, another issue many of us were unaware of is that the information which educators and counselors glean about our industry comes from a government site called O*NET, which gets its information from the Department of Labor's SIC codes. These codes are quite old and do not reflect the industry of today. On behalf of PIA/GATF, Printing & Imaging Association Mountain States and Mountain States Printing Education Foundation have been working on correcting that antiquated information. It is difficult to troll for students when all the posted information on our industry is so incorrect. I would be happy to talk to you about what we have discovered and what we are working on to correct it. Sincerely, Kathy Lauerman President, Printing & Imaging Association Moutain States Sec/Treas, Mountain States Printing Education Foundation Denver, CO -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear ODJ: Variable data printing is not the only innovation that attracts the end user. There are plenty of offset applications which greatly amaze the target group I have read Michael Josefowicz 's article "Print is Cool and Print is Back" with great interest. It seems that we all have the same goal to promote the emotional appeal of printed products to improve the image of print in public. Here is my answer to Michael’s letter: Dear Michael: With your long-time experience in the printing industry you surely agree that variable data printing is not the only innovation that attracts the end user. There are plenty of offset applications which greatly amaze the target group like: high gloss and dull varnishing effects, scented coatings, lenticular printing, MetalFX, fluorescent inks, Iriodin, inline-die cutting, embossing, exciting substrates, etc. Such effects digital can hardly offer today, and many more will be seen in the future. Variable data printing can actually be done by every end user on their personal ink-jet printer (in a limited way) which can reduce the attention to such applications. Also the growth of individualization has not taken place as predicted in the recent years. We rather see an increase of versioned products which are tailored to certain user segments (probably similar to the student text books you mentioned). In most cases such demands can be fulfilled with offset presses most efficiently. The electronic media clearly have the strength of interactivity to provide dynamic information instantly, reflecting the exact requests of the user. This level of interactivity can never be reached with digital printing in a print shop (time- and content-wise). In the battle to obtain the awareness of e.g. advertising customers it is necessary to differentiate from the new possibilities electronic media offer. Only the combination of the offset process together with new possibilities in digital printing has the power to oppose the benefits of electronic media. Kind regards, Bernd Blumberg Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael Josefowicz Responds: Dear Bernd, Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Can a business model that calls it a major success when only 94% instead of 98% of its product to go into the waste stream really be sustainable? In general, I agree with everything you say, and in fact might go even a little farther. My argument turns on the issue of access and empowering the user. The Internet is cool because regular people can use it to communicate, buy stuff and make virtual things. They can do it from the comforts of their home, when they want to, how they want to. At the end of the day it makes their lives easier and more fun. I've seen how we can have the same experience with print. Producing posters overnight, or edition bound books without leaving my desktop. But instead of making virtual things, we can make physical things. Now that's very, very cool! Since I love physical objects, it makes my life easier and more fun. I agree 100% about variable data. In fact I think the whole 1-to-1 approach is going to turn out to be a short lived bubble. I believe that the best way to do 1 to 1 is the web. The industry is taking what they know -- direct mail -- and adding a new functionality. It's okay, but can a business model that calls it a major success when only 94% instead of 98% of its product to go into the waste stream really be sustainable? My own feeling is that a National Do Not Mail list is only a matter of time. As for your comments about versioning, again I agree. Hybrid products are for me a very interesting application. How neat would it be to have an 8 page executive summary of TheEconomist, highlighting what interests me, wrapped around the normal version. That might be cool! What I think you don't emphasize enough are the special social attributes of print. Attitudes change in groups, not 1 to 1. The treasured printed object naturally becomes part of our environment, even when it is not being "used"-- from the posters in a teenagers bedroom to the collections of coffee table books that help define who we are. And unlike movies, or moving displays, in print the user is empowered to control time - to reflect, browse and absorb the information at their own pace. Part of our problem is that for the last 80 years or so, we've been defined by the point of view of advertisers. I think part of our problem is that for the last 80 years or so, we've been defined by the point of view of advertisers. But, it's becoming pretty clear their business models are broken. Yes, it's probably true that's where most of the money is coming from today. But given that most people hate most advertising, is this really sustainable? And, if we listen carefully, advertisers are coming to same conclusion and developing all kinds of "community creation" strategies. But what if the industry started looking more seriously at other sectors, in addition to taking "community building" marketing, more seriously? The movement of information throughout large enterprises is a pressing issue for every large enterprise in the U.S. and the world -- health, education, large scale organizations, government on the local, state and national levels. They are all being pushed very hard to find efficiency and efficacy --all within a context of compliance and transparency. Tough problem. One of the few places left for them to save money is in their dysfunctional information systems. The better approach might be to develop the unique properties of print, and encourage the technology that gets the real job done Up until now we've left this problem to the IT people. But imagine if the communication industry took everything we know and applied it to these communication problems. I saw a hint of what could happen from the results of the fully personalized workbooks I mentioned in my first letter. They were not versioned. Each page of each workbook was unique to each student. What might be the result if the communication industry designed classrooms? Just one last note, in an already too long reply. You describe a "battle" between print and web. You say "Only the combination of the offset process together with new possibilities in digital printing has the power to oppose the benefits of electronic media." NOTHING will oppose the benefits of electronic media. The better approach might be to develop the unique properties of print, and encourage the technology that gets the real job done -- communicating ideas to make our lives easier and our society more sustainable. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear ODJ: I found Nancy Ingalls' article "The Short Guide to Wide" very informative. It is an exciting time to be involved in wide-format printing with its great growth potential as well as the expanding applications for wide-format that was discussed in your article. I believe the changing dynamics in the wide-format industry warrant an evaluation of the players that are emerging in the marketplace. I do not know if this is a direction you already plan to pursue with future articles, however many companies have already embraced this growing sector in the printing industry and have benefited greatly from its success. FedEx Kinko's is one of these companies. Just two years after introducing its first sign and banner dedicated departments in FedEx Kinko's Office and Print Centers, FedEx Kinko's has exploded into the large-format scene and is poised to become the largest retail sign company in the industry. In 2004 FedEx Kinko's launched its first flagship Signs and Graphics center in Austin, Texas. Building from this success FedEx Kinko's plans on unveiling three more Signs and Graphics centers this year that focus solely on signs and graphics services. Here are a few facts that your readers may be interested to know about FedEx Kinko's wide-format services: It is the largest print-for-pay provider of signs and graphics and largest retailer of vinyl banners in the industry. There are more than 1,200 company-owned digitally connected wide-format capable centers. The breadth of FedEx Kinko's wide-format printing options is extensive: vinyl banners and signs; magnets and decals; aluminum and plastic signs; backlit signs and boxes; form-board mounting; durable laminating; art-quality studio canvas; photo-quality full color; and much more. Dominic Pannone Ketchum PR

 

 

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