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Mark Levenson of Sage gives a buyer's perspective on offset versus digital

Published on December 4, 2012

Mark Levenson, Manager of US Manufacturing at Sage, talks to Cary Sherburne about the mix of digital versus offset in their print buys and what is important to him as a buyer of print.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink, and I’m here with Mark Levenson, who’s the manager of US Manufacturing and Composition for Sage, and you guys are in the educational publishing business, right?

Mark Levenson: We are.

Cary Sherburne: So you buy a lot of printing.

Mark Levenson: We do buy a lot of printing.

Cary Sherburne: So, obviously, book printing has been one of the areas that’s migrated – is migrating pretty quickly to digital because of the high production of value inkjet as well as the requirement for shorter runs, right?

Mark Levenson: Right.

Cary Sherburne: So how are you seeing that play out in your business? I mean, do you have an idea – a rough idea of what gets printed offset versus what – percentage wise – versus what gets printed digital today, and where do you see that going?

Mark Levenson: It really depends on the quantity. I mean, it used to be that – you know, large runs and then you’d warehouse. But unfortunately if you don’t sell the books, then those are being recycled. So, therefore, we are lowering our quantities, whether it’s run digital or if it’s run to tradition; whatever the best fit for our quantities.

Cary Sherburne: And I know that it’s really important to you personally to stay up with the technology so that you kinda know what the possibilities are, right?

Mark Levenson: Right.

Cary Sherburne: But, in the end, do you really care? Do you kind of leave the decision up to your printing partner as to where they run?

Mark Levenson: Right. Well as long as the price is there, if the quality is there – the quality is very important. You can’t show somebody one thing and then give them something less afterwards, but, yeah, so it’s whatever’s the best fit.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah, and then also on the backend, on finishing, there’s a lot happening there in terms of the binding, right?

Mark Levenson: Right, which is great because that’s kind of where the bottleneck is, is in the production, we find. You know, we’ve also – we’ve reduced our production schedules down, and with these automated binding lines, you know they’re – the printing companies are able to even provide shorter schedules.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. I know that, for example, companies like Muller Martini have just made huge strides in the automation.

Mark Levenson: Absolutely.

Cary Sherburne: You know, and I was talking recently with the product folks over there and I understand that, you know they’ve – a lot of the finishing companies are designing machines that can be used in-line but also near-line, off-line, right?

Mark Levenson: Right.

Cary Sherburne: So you can have stuff going in but at the same time you can be feeding it in from another device.

Mark Levenson: Definitely productive.

Cary Sherburne: Takes away the whole argument, doesn’t it? Near-line, off-line. So, well, that’s great ‘cause it’s always great to hear the buyer’s perspective on this thing.

Mark Levenson: Right. Absolutely. Any time.

Cary Sherburne: Thank you.

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