Published April 3, 2020
Frank argues vociferously that print is an essential industry and print businesses must remain open during this very difficult time in our history. Our trade associations have been active in contacting government representatives to plead our case.
Published March 27, 2020
Frank comments on the postponement of drupa and its effect on the printing industry. Vendors who were planning to introduce new technologies in Dusseldorf will now use fall events like Brand Print America and PRINTING United to do so—or, like HP, host their own virtual events. Regardless, the COVID-19 crisis is going to make this a challenging year for the industry, but hopefully we will come out on the other side.
Published March 20, 2020
Frank takes us on a short tour of the venerable Mergenthaler Linotype machine, which Thomas Edison called “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” It revolutionized typesetting in the early 20th century and was only supplanted by the advent of phototypesetting. The Museum of Printing has a Linotype Legacy Program to help preserve this device, as well as provide training and education programs on its operation and maintenance.
Published March 13, 2020
Frank talks about the Government Publishing Office’s move to rollfed inkjet presses to print the Congressional Record and other publications. He goes back in time to review the history of the production of the daily, ~1,000-page Congressional Record and how the technology has changed over the years.
Published March 6, 2020
Frank shows highlights from the Museum of Printing’s recent exhibit of “typographic ephemera,” specimen books and promotion pieces for typefaces. Researchers come from all around the world to delve into the MoP’s extensive type collection. The exhibit also included a 1930 magazine article from The Linotype Company called “Typographic Sanity,” bemoaning the fact that there were too many typefaces.
Published February 28, 2020
Frank offers a recommendation for WhatTheyThink’s “Printing Outlook 2020" special report, providing some historical context for the challenges of getting good data about the industry. He also comments on the sense of industry optimism conveyed in the report.
Published February 24, 2020
There is a surge in demand for printed books, driven by two trends: self-publishing and on-demand printing, both enabled by digital printing technology. Of the 700 million books produced in the U.S. last year, about half were printed on demand using digital technology. Frank Romano profiles Lowell, Mass.’s King Printing Company, which takes on-demand book printing to the next level.
Published February 21, 2020
Frank interviews Tom Campbell of King Printing in Lowell, Mass. King has been a pioneer in short-run book printing and now provides a major service for publishers big and small. Campbell discusses the trends in book printing and publishing today.
Published February 14, 2020
Will apps replace printed show directories? Frank shows off his drupa 1972 show directory and some other recent directories—and an app that served as the directory for a recent show. He has had his drupa directory for 48 years. Will today’s trade show apps be readable in 48 years? He feels that any trade show with the word “PRINTING” in its name should have a printed directory.
Published February 7, 2020
Frank has a shout-out for a company called InkPixi, a company that produces on-demand, personalized specialty items. Most importantly, they have great customer service. He recounts his personal experience with a recent order for a Christmas gift. If you’re looking for weird gifts for your family—and who isn't?—they are a go-to company.
Published January 31, 2020
Newspapers are moving to electronic versions and cutting back on or eliminating their print editions. As a result, they don’t need large headquarters, especially if they no longer have to house a printing press. So, many are selling their often-iconic buildings, which are then converted into high-priced condos and luxury apartments. You can buy a condo in the classic Chicago Tribune building for a cool $7.6 million.
Published January 24, 2020
While at PRINTING United, Frank stopped by the Kodak booth and was impressed by Kodak and Uteco’s development of an inkjet technology that can print on flexible film. He was especially impressed by the quality of the fleshtones—one of the limitations of flexography was its shortcomings in being able to print photorealistic images. He thinks that inkjet is now able to challenge flexography for certain jobs. He is also predicting that drupa will be the “Inkjet On Anything” show.
Published January 17, 2020
Frank talks about his three latest books which essentially comprise a history of his years in the industry—a personal, yet encyclopedic trilogy that covers the history of hot metal, the phototypesetting era, and desktop publishing.
Published January 10, 2020
Frank visits with Tom Furrier of Cambridge Typewriter in Arlington, Mass., one of the last typewriter repair services in New England. Over the past 15 years, he has seen a resurgence of interest in mechanical (but not electric) typewriters—in particular among young people. His business is booming; his repair services have a two-month backlog.
Published December 20, 2019
Frank is in a colorful mood this week, reporting on some color-related stories that caught his eye. First, Opaque Couché is declared the World’s ugliest color, for some reason, and in 1692, more than 200 years before PANTONE, an artist described every color imaginable—and even assigned them numbers. He also exposes “The Secret Lives of Color” via a recent book by Kassia St. Clair that traces the history of every color.
Published December 13, 2019
In part 2 of a two-part series on the future of the printing press, Frank visits Dallas, Tex.’s Summit Direct, which has one of the largest arrays of printing equipment—offset and digital—Frank has ever seen. He talks with president John Barber and VP of Business Development Mike Robinson, VP of Business Development, about their equipment portfolio, including the Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 inkjet sheetfed press and the different kinds of work they are running on it.
Published December 6, 2019
In part 1 of a two-part series on the future of the printing press, Frank visits AM Solutions in Egerton, Wis., and talks with Dean Gille, president, and Mike Henning, vice president, about their Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 inkjet sheetfed press. AM had been an offset shop that had to make changes as they adopted inkjet, and the two technologies literally sit side by side.
Published November 22, 2019
Frank provides his eagerly anticipated 2019 Tote Bag Review, a critical evaluation of the branded tote bags that he has picked up at recent trade shows. He even picks a winner.
Published November 15, 2019
Frank visits the original Chicago location of The Oliver Typewriter Company, the edifice of which remains intact—even the logo of the company which appears about 40 times. Some of the architectural features of the structure are iconic and have long outlasted The Oliver Typewriter Company itself, which declared bankruptcy in 1928. In its heyday, the company was highly successful, as it was among the first to make typewriters that let typists see what they were typing as they were typing.
Published November 8, 2019
Frank talks to Chris Manley of Graphco as the company sets up the RMGT 9 Series, the only offset press on the show floor at PRINTING United. There are more than 70 of these presses installed in the US today. In 2014, when they first exhibited the press, there were only 3.
Published November 1, 2019
Frank reports from PRINTING United in Dallas, one of the largest domestic trade shows he has attended since 1997. He talks about how big printing trade shows have changed as print and print technologies have changed.
Published October 25, 2019
Frank met up with Shoshana Burgett, who is launching Colorkarma, a new website for graphic designers. Today’s creative professional must combine design with production skills. Although there is an emphasis on color, many aspects of the creative process for print or pixel are included. There is also a "safe space" where designers can post their past "fails" to help others improve their design skills.
Published October 18, 2019
Frank previews next year’s drupa 2020, taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany, June 16–25, 2020. It is his 12th drupa (you do the math). There will be 1,800 exhibitors from 50 countries, and 30% of them are new exhibitors. Frank offers his travel advisory.
Published October 11, 2019
Frank celebrates the life of PRINT, a show that had been a major part of his life for the past 51 years, and summarizes the print milestones that made their debut at McCormick Place over the years.
Published October 4, 2019
Frank talks to the extremely famous Daniel Dejan of Sappi at PRINT 19 about his travels, educating people about design, graphics, print, and a new haptics book he and Sappi are launching. They also discuss the challenges of designing for variable-data printing.