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WhatTheyThink

Articles by Frank Romano

Frank Romano has spent over 60 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia. Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Displaying 1-99 of 727 articles

Frank Has Spirit (Duplicators)

Published June 11, 2021

Frank discovers an article that says that Jeff Bezos of Amazon prefers multi-page memos over Powerpoint and this prompts a discussion of office printing. Along the way, we are reminded of paper memos and phone call slips, some printed with Mimeographs, Dittos, Gestetners, and Xerox copiers. Today, almost everyone has a printer/scanner a few steps away.

Frank’s Enablers

Published June 4, 2021

A recent study shows that one-third of all newspaper subscriptions are for digital versions and that this could reach 100% between 2024 and 2027. But for digital subscriptions to be worthwhile, there needs to be an easy way to read them. Frank takes us on a quick tour of these digital enablers and how they evolved—from the Apple Newton, to the Powerbook, to the MacBook Air, and then to the iPhone and iPad.

Frank Takes Pictures

Published May 28, 2021

Photography and printing have always had a symbiotic relationship. Frank shows off the Museum of Printing’s collection of antique (and some not so antique) cameras. The challenge after the advent of photography was how to get photographs into a form that could be printed—hence the halftone and, eventually, scanners. Now images are digital from the start, since everyone has a camera with them and there is a glut of images.

Frank’s Paper Chase

Published May 21, 2021

Frank waxes nostalgic about the Compugraphic CompuWriter phototypesetter and how it helped expand the newspaper market. Working for Compugraphic at the time, Frank’s first book was all about how to start a profitable newspaper—with a CompuWriter that made typesetting easy. But now newspapers are trading paper for pixels and the traditional paper is sadly going away.

The Fabric of Frank’s Life

Published May 14, 2021

Frank excitedly recommends a new book called “The Fabric of Civilization” by Virginia Postrel. He learns that the words “text” and “textile” some from the same root, and the “Stone Age” is misnamed. He ties it all together with a letterpress press used by the Folly Cove Designers to print fabric.

Frank’s Tale of Two Books

Published May 7, 2021

Frank shows us two beautiful case-bound books. Both are histories of the Weyerhaeuser Paper Company produced in 1999. One was printed with offset lithography and the other with Xeikon toner-based printing at RIT using the same PDF file—and if not for a production note on the cover of the digital version, you’d never know it wasn’t offset. In the decade that followed Weyerhaeuser got out of the paper business and Xeikon flourished in digital printing.

Yes, We Have No Bodoni

Published April 30, 2021

Frank takes us on a quick tour of the only type specimen book done by type designer Giambatista Bodoni in his lifetime. Dedicated to Napoleon, it presents the “Our Father” prayer in 97 languages. The 1806 folio-sized book is now in the Romano Library at the Museum of Printing, as are the research materials that Valerie Lester drew upon for her definitive biography of Bodoni.

Frank Is on a Scroll

Published April 23, 2021

Frank pontificates about how we will see and interact with information as we move into the future. He goes from ancient scrolls, to the book, to the screen. How will information be presented in the future—and is there a future for text in the electronic age? 

Remembering Chuck Geschke, Co-Founder of Adobe Systems

Published April 19, 2021

Frank Romano looks back at the life of Charles “Chuck” Geshke, co-founder of Adobe, who passed away last Friday.

Frank on Display

Published April 16, 2021

Frank opines about museums that once had printing exhibitions and those that have them now, and it's a sad fact that major museums around the world no longer have printing on display. There are now specialized museums that emphasize printing—but they all have the same problems with space and public interest.

Frank Texts

Published April 9, 2021

Frank looks at vintage textbooks for printing and reviews how technology has changed graphic arts education. Early books covered letterpress but the change to offset and then digital complicated the teaching of print. Schools that are still teaching print are grappling with the problem of what specific digital equipment to teach, as there is no standardization the way there was with letterpress and offset. Frank also wonders who will run the printing devices of the future. 

Frank and the Ironic Praise of Scribes

Published March 26, 2021

Frank talks about Johannes Trithemius, the Abbot of Sponheim, Germany. His monastery had a large scriptorium of monks scribbling their way to Heaven hand-copying manuscripts. He wrote a book in 1516, some years after the advent of printing, called “In Praise of Scribes” in which he extolled the glory of handwritten books and urged monks not to give up the practice. But—in a great moment of historical irony—in order to get the book published in the quantities he needed, he had it printed. 

Frank Talk with Print Historian and Collector Patrick Goossens

Published March 19, 2021

Frank found a video from a past trip to Antwerp, Belgium, where he interviewed Patrick Goossens, noted print historian and collector. Goossens’ 2,500-square meter facility holds a vast collection of ancient printing equipment which is unequalled in the world. 

Just Frank’s Type

Published March 12, 2021

Frank takes us on a whirlwind tour of the history of photographic typesetting. Starting with the 1949 Fotosetter and progressing through ATF, Compugraphic, Linotype, Itek, and ending with the laser-based Linotronic. By the mid 1990s, computer-to-plate and digital color printing negated the need for separate typesetting machines.

Frank Strikes Out

Published March 5, 2021

Frank shows rare newspapers produced during the 1923 New York City pressmen’s strike. There were 22 daily newspapers and they combined to print a morning and evening paper. The New York Times only printed a single page—and only for archival purposes (not distribution), as they were “the newspaper of record.” Newspaper strikes increased in frequency in the 1960s, usually involving new typesetting technologies.

Frank Says, “PS, I Love You”

Published February 26, 2021

Frank describes the advent of PostScript fonts with the Apple Laserwriter 1 and the Linotype Linotronic 300 photo imagesetter. PostScript allowed jobs to be typeset in PageMaker, proofed on a Laserwriter, and then output on film on a Linotronic. P.S.: Adobe has announced that support for authoring PostScript Type 1 fonts will be discontinued in 2023—although it’s not all that clear what exactly is being discontinued.

Frank’s “A Tale of Two Types”

Published February 19, 2021

Frank tells a tale of two types: the sans serif font called Arial (let’s be honest, Helvetica, really) and the serif font called Times (New) Roman. It is said that Times will cut your ink use when printing. Frank, of course, investigates further, and what follows is a twisting tale of mistaken point sizes and shady serifs.

Frank Takes Issue with Newspapers

Published February 12, 2021

Frank waxes nostalgic about newspaper issues from the past. He relates how many newspapers have cut back on the number of issues per week that are printed—and points out that we will someday no longer have iconic front pages announcing major events, such as the sinking of the Titanic or the death of JFK. He shows a copy of the NY Times from the day he was born, proving that print had been invented by then.

Frank Sees Little Justification in Early Newspaper Typesetting

Published February 5, 2021

Frank uses the retirement of a former Linotype operator at the New York Times as a jumping off point to trace the evolution of newspaper typesetting, from the advent of paper tape, to computerized hyphenation and justification (H&J)—and to the great New York City newspaper strike.

Frank Catches Up On Some Reading

Published January 29, 2021

Frank reviews “The Creation of the Media” by Paul Starr. His long, detailed, occasionally ponderous, but completely fascinating book touches on technology, literacy, capitalism, and other factors to ultimately explore what led to the news media that we understand today. The book was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

Frank Provides a Backdrop for Book Sales

Published January 22, 2021

Frank comments on reports that 2020 was a great year for book publishing. Book sales were up, and some of them may even have been read. More often than not, Frank muses, they were bought to use as backdrops for Zoom calls.

Frank Catalogs Catalogs

Published January 15, 2021

IKEA announced that they will no longer print their catalog, so Frank takes a nostalgic look back at the history of mail order catalogs, from 1872 and the first Montgomery Ward catalog, to Sears, to JC Penney, to IKEA. While there are still printed catalogs, most marketing is online these days.

Frank Gets Lost in the Good Book

Published January 8, 2021

Here we get up close and personal with the Gutenberg Bible. Frank becomes part of the book and takes us on a walking tour of a typical page from the 1455 masterpiece. He comments on the type, layout, and illustrative material. 

Frank Romano Remembers John Peterson

Published January 5, 2021

John Peterson, a major figure in the typesetting industry, passed away last year. Frank Romano offers a remembrance.  

Frank to the Future

Published December 18, 2020

In this episode we meet “Future Frank,” a hologram from the year 2100 that reports on what life and technology are going to be like over our next 80 years. We get a glimpse of our future, but maybe we don’t want to know. (Hint: Start to look into printing food.)

Frank Goes In Search of The Lost World of Typesetting Services

Published December 11, 2020

The Museum of Printing has one of the largest collections of specimen books from typesetting services, a business classification distinct from type foundries. At their peak around 1990, there were more than 4,000 typesetting services in the U.S. They set type for ad agencies, book and magazine publishers, and graphic designers. When word processing came along, these businesses lost the income from keyboarding, and desktop publishing finally did away with this once-vibrant industry.

Frank Reads the Fine Print

Published December 4, 2020

Frank discovered these tiny editions of the Boston Herald that were printed in the mid-1940s. These were special editions that were reduced in size photographically for shipment overseas to members of the armed services during WWII to give them a slice of home—primarily for the headlines as the text ended up about four points. These editions were sponsored by the Jordan Marsh department store and printed using offset lithography at a time when letterpress was the dominant printing technology.

Franks Cabinet of Wonders

Published November 20, 2020

Frank showcases some items in an eclectic display case in the library at the Museum of Printing. Not fitting in anywhere else in the museum, these items range from an Indigo commemorative stamp issued in Israel; to the font for the first phototypesetter to set Chinese; to the pins that Boston Globe Newsboys wore; to a set of rescue doorknobs from the Printing Crafts Building in New York City.

Frank’s Rise and Fall of the Paper-Based Office

Published November 13, 2020

Frank talks about office communication and shows some of the vintage machines that helped offices run on paper. There was the Mimeograph, Gestetner, and Ditto machines. He then shows a clip from a speech he gave at the XPLOR event in 1993 that predicted today’s work-at-home world, the decline of the office per se, and perhaps the decline of the need for paper.

The Digital Trade Printer: A New Approach to an Old Idea

Published November 11, 2020

Harvard Pinnacle Group in Waltham, Mass., is a digital trade printer. Owner Greg Wallace started the company as a Macintosh training center, and his need for training materials moved him into printing. The company was born digital and has stayed digital.

The Elephant in the (Bath)room?

Published November 6, 2020

From Egyptian papyrus, to today’s handmade papers, to paper made from stone and hemp, Frank looks at the evolution of writing and paper—as well as one recent paper made from an…unusual but all-too-common material.

Frank’s Reading Rainbow

Published October 30, 2020

Frank reviews two books this week. The first is “A Place for Everything—The Curious History of Alphabetical Order” by Judith Flanders, which provides an interesting look at how the alphabet evolved. The second is the more technical “Printing-Process Control and Standardization” by RIT’s Robert Chung, whose students have become the "apostles of color" around the world. Every printer should have a copy.

Frank Plays with the Stones

Published October 23, 2020

Color printing began with Alois Senefelder, who developed the process we now know as lithography, printing using a variety of limestone. Before there was process color with offset lithography, there was chromolithography, color printing using litho stones which overlaid different colors. Frank provides a short history of chromolithography, Louis Prang, its most famous practitioner, and shows some beautiful samples of this colorful printing art produced from 1900 to 1910. After 1910, CMYK inks were formulated and offset began the path to color printing.

Frank Turns the Rules

Published October 16, 2020

Frank shows some newspapers with large, black inter-column rule lines. This was called “turning the rules” and was used to indicate mourning when a president or some other prominent personality died. The practice continued until the Kennedy era.

All the News That’s Fit for Someone Else to Print

Published October 9, 2020

Frank uses a giant 1880s Hoe rotary flatbed press—the machine that revolutionized the printing industry—as a jumping-off point to talk about how newspapers are getting out of their own printing. As newspaper circulation has gone down, newspapers can’t afford their own production, so newspaper printing—and often of rival newspapers—is being consolidated in a single production facility.

Frank's Training Video

Published October 2, 2020

Frank holds his version of the Holy Grail of newspapers, one of the rarest items you can find in the printing industry: an issue of “The Transcontinental.” This was a newspaper printed on one of the first passenger trains to go from Boston to San Francisco in 1870. It was typeset in the baggage car and was printed on a Gordon platen press installed on the train. Content for the 12 editions was essentially a travelog, as the train stopped in various cities during its cross-country journey. The issue Frank has was printed at the summit of the Sierra Nevadas.

Frank Gets Framed

Published September 25, 2020

Last week it was hardware, this week’s it’s software. A graphic designer donated some software to the Museum of Printing, and reviewing it was like a trip back in time. Extensis Suitcase? Adobe Type Manager? And then there was FrameMaker, the donated version of which dates back to circa 1995. Installed from 11 floppy disks (!) and coming with a two-inch-thick user manual and all kinds of other printed documentation, FrameMaker was the standard for the production of structured documents like manuals. FrameMaker was later acquired by Adobe and is still around.

Frank Goes Down Read-Only Memory Lane

Published September 18, 2020

The Museum of Printing gets tons of donations, and Frank shows some recent computer hardware equipment that the Museum recently acquired. There were three smaller-than-laptop computers and a host of plugs, cables, connectors, and converters to get you from SCSI to USB to even FireWire (if you need a cable, give him a call). A ZIP drive and even a CD-ROM unit were included.

Frank’s Mysteries at the Print Museum: Print and the Pandemic

Published September 11, 2020

Why did the Ludlow Typograph Company see an 800% increase in sales to printing companies in 1919, right in the middle of the Spanish Flu pandemic? While researching a book on the history of the Ludlow Typograph, Frank gains some insight into the 1918–1920 influenza pandemic and connects the dots between that pandemic and the printing industry.

Frank Visits Waltham’s HPGprint

Published September 4, 2020

Frank visits Greg Wallace at HPGprint in Waltham, Mass. HPGprint is a trade printer, a descendent of the “gang” printers of the past, and specializes in “value-added” printing, such as gold and silver, spot UV, etc. HPGprint is all digital and also acts as a dealer or reseller for equipment. Take a look.

Frank's Flashback: 1995

Published August 28, 2020

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of what was a watershed year for the printing industry. 1995 was the year that the industry was at its peak (65,000 commercial printing establishments!), but the advent of the first Web browser and the maturation of the Acrobat PDF combined in that year to change the very nature of communication. Meanwhile, a paper shortage—which led to the Paperwork Reduction Act—hastened a switch to electronic media, especially among government agencies.

Frank’s Back to the Future

Published August 21, 2020

Frank was perusing an issue of “Inland Printer” from June, 1973, and discovered an article that he had written. In it, he summarized many of the typesetting trends that were taking place at the time as hot metal was transitioning to phototypesetting. Many of the technologies emerging at that time would play increased roles in the printing industry—and lay the groundwork for today.

Frank’s Mysteries at the Print Museum

Published August 14, 2020

While poking around the Museum of Printing’s archive of more than 5,000 Linotype Company font designs, Frank discovered that they had once created a font for Cree, the only Native American language for which there was a Linotype font. Why Cree? The search for the answer takes Frank back to World War II and the US military’s use of Native American “code talkers” to convey classified military information.

Frank’s Summer of 68

Published August 7, 2020

When PIA and SGIA merged to form PUA, they donated a huge carton of memorabilia to The Museum of Printing. One of the items was the show directory for PRINT 68 (hardbound! signed!). So as we enter the era of the virtual trade show, Frank waxes nostalgic about PRINT 68, the first major in-person printing show of the modern era.

Frank Turns Over an Old Leaf

Published July 31, 2020

Frank shows several examples of print that have survived the centuries. Books, newspapers, and other documents from 1300, 1350, 1493, 1781, and 1901 show how print has endured and is still accessible and readable after 700 years—or more. Will today’s digital files be as accessible and readable in the future?

Frank Is Looking for Work in All the Wrong Places

Published July 24, 2020

Frank came across an article about the fastest shrinking jobs in the U.S. for each state, and he speculates on the causes for the loss of those jobs. Telemarketers in Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota? Motorboat operators in Florida? Telephone operators in Illinois, Michigan, and Utah? Word processors and typists in Mississippi and North Carolina? Private detectives in New Mexico? Fortunately “WTT commentator” was not on the list.

Frank Digests Edible Paper

Published July 17, 2020

Frank tries out his new stand up (or perhaps sit down) routine as he tries to digest the concept of Edible Notepads—a Japanese company has introduced pads of paper that can be eaten. This will not save trees as they now become a food group. Frank then riffs on the potential for other kinds of edible office supplies.

It’s All About the Benjamins

Published July 10, 2020

In the course of Frank’s travels across America, he has tried to seek out every statue of and monument to Benjamin Franklin. Take your mind off the pandemic for a while and watch his “home movie” of Franklin memorials. More than once, he had to ask someone “Where’s the Ben Franklin statue?”

Frank and Fitzgerald

Published June 26, 2020

Frank discovered a book about the WWII publishing program for the military called “The Best Read Army in the World” which discusses how F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby”—which upon its release got mixed reviews and sold poorly—became a beloved classic. Frank segues into a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to a cousin written during the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic. Somehow it’s all related.

Frank Gets Lost in the Good Book

Published June 19, 2020

Frank previews an upcoming Museum of Printing exhibit showcasing original leaves from famous Bibles, including every Bible printed in Colonial America. The King James became the best known English translation—even if a printer’s error changed one of the Commandments to read “Thou shalt commit adultery.” The first Bibles printed in America were not in English—they were in Algonquin.

Just Frank’s Type

Published June 12, 2020

Frank discusses an old report he wrote in the 1980s called “The Evolving Markets for Type,” about changes in the typesetting industry. Typesetting used to involve dedicated typesetting companies setting metal type and delivering it to printers. Phototypesetting then allowed type buyers to do their own typesetting, and ultimately desktop publishing finished wiping out what had been an $8 billion typesetting marketplace. Technology changes everything.

Frank’s Alphabet Soup

Published June 5, 2020

This episode wins the award for most acronyms used at one time. Frank traces the evolution of American printing associations from UTA to GATF to PIA, from NPEA to NPES to APT, from SPA to SGIA to PUA. WHEW! (That’s not an acronym.)

Frank Catches Up On His Reading

Published May 29, 2020

Frank has lots of free time on his hands nowadays and is getting caught up on his reading. This week, he reviews two books. “Death of a Typographer” by Nick Gadd is a murder mystery with loads of typographic clues and gags. “Merg: The TRUE story of a WWII soldier's selfless act of valor and sacrifice that one town never forgot” by Peter Lion is the story of Ottmar Mergenthaler’s grandson George Mergenthaler, who joined the US Army during World War II, was sent to Luxembourg, and was ultimately killed by the Nazis.

Poll Position

Published May 22, 2020

Frank reviews a new book “This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot” by Alicia Yin Cheng, timely because of the current talk about mail-in voting and support for the postal system. Frank uses examples from the book to show how printed ballots evolved as printing technology changed over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Small Wonders

Published May 15, 2020

Since the Museum of Printing in Haverhill, Mass., is, at present, closed to visitors, Frank is showcasing some highlights of the Museum’s collection. This week, Frank explores the Museum’s collection of miniature books including what Frank contends is the smallest book in the world. Smaller than a Tic Tac, it was bought at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany.

All the News That’s Fit to Not Print

Published May 8, 2020

Frank comes to praise newspapers, not to bury them. Starting with the front page of a 1923 New York City newspaper—a time when there were more than 20 newspapers in NYC alone—he comments on the decline in newspaper circulation and readership, which started around 1954 with the popularity of television. The erosion of printed newspapers accelerated around the year 2000 with the massive growth of the Internet. But what is really sad about the decline is newspapers is that it really marks a decline in local journalism.

Raymond J. Prince, 1944–2020

Published May 4, 2020

Frank Romano remembers Raymond Prince, who passed away last week.

Frank Is Artless

Published May 1, 2020

Frank takes a trip back to a time before email and PDFs negated the need for in-person contact and old-time artwork and mechanicals, and waxes nostalgic for rubber cement. If there is one good thing about today’s self-quarantining, printers and their customers no longer need face-to-face contact in order to deliver artwork, see proofs, or deal with other issues. Special bonus: watch Frank email a file!

Frank’s Character Assassination

Published April 24, 2020

Before Comic Sans, there was Souvenir. Seeking something cheerful to say, Frank reminisces—with documentation—about the typeface that was the target of his “character assassination” back in the 1980s.

Frank’s March of Time (Magazine)

Published April 10, 2020

Newspapers. Periodicals. Directories. Books. Catalogs. Direct mail. Frank spans the print world and gives an update and overview of the printing industry by product category, and how the current COVID-19 crisis has impacted each—and the printing industry in general.

The Wrath of Frank

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.

Frank Goes Viral

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.

Frank Sets a Line o’ Type

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.

Frank Speaks On the Record

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.

Frank Talks Type

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.

Frank Looks Out to 2020

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.

King of a Changing Bookmaking Paradigm

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.

King of On-Demand Book Printing

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.

What’s In a Name? Printing!

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.

Frank Doesn’t Cut the Apron Strings

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.

Frank Gets Real (Estate)

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.

Frank Flexes

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.

Frank Makes Book(s)

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.

The Typewriter Revolution

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.

Frank's Reading Rainbow

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.

Frank and the Future of the Printing Press (Part 2)

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.

Frank and the Future of the Printing Press (Part 1)

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.

Frank: One Tote Over the Line

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.

Frank’s Short Architectural Tour of Chicago

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.

Frank at PRINTING United: RMGT “Commits to Print”

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.

Frank in Dallas

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.

Shoshana Burgett Launches Colorkarma, A Resource for Designers

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.

Frank's drupa 2020 Vision

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.

Elegy for a Trade Show

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.

Frank Talks to Daniel Dejan at PRINT 19

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.

Frank Charts the Industry’s Course

Published September 27, 2019

Frank animatedly looks at an old industry segmentation chart he created ~12 years ago showing the overlap in services from many printing industry sectors—and finds that it is still relevant. It appears that everyone is getting into everyone else’s business.

Frank Tours His Library

Published September 20, 2019

Frank takes us on a quick tour of his extensive library of books, periodicals, and other memorabilia at the Museum of Printing. If you are ever in the Boston area, be sure to visit Haverhill, Mass., and peruse this unique collection. Information about the museum and upcoming events can be found at https://museumofprinting.org.

Frank Surfs the Victorian Internet

Published September 13, 2019

Frank recommends a recently reissued edition of Tom Standage’s classic 1997 book “The Victorian Internet,” all about the telegraph, which had the effect of changing the world in very much the same way as the Internet. Fun fact: How did Samuel Morse develop the Morse Code? He went to a printing company and counted the number of letters in a typecase to determine the least number of dots and dashes needed for a letter.

All the News That Fits

Published September 6, 2019

Frank comments on the decline in printed newspapers and the rise of digital editions. He shows that printed newspapers have been changing in size and circulation for the last 100 years. He laments not so much the loss of paper newspapers as the loss of independent local journalism.

Frank on Industry Predictions from the 90s

Published August 30, 2019

Frank talks about two studies from the 1990s that attempted to predict the future of the printing industry. He predicts that predicting the future is not easy.

Frank Talks to Linotype Maintenance Specialist Dave Seat

Published August 23, 2019

Frank talks to Dave Seat, one of the few Linotype maintenance specialists. Dave travels America repairing the last group of working Linotype hot metal typesetters. He estimates that he repairs around 100 to 200 machines a year, a lot of them in museums eager to get them up and running as there has been a resurgence of interest in Linotypes in recent years.

Frank Goes In Search of Old Printing Equipment

Published August 16, 2019

Frank takes an archaeological excursion through a Charlestown, Mass., warehouse, built in the late 19th century in an attempt to compete for freight traffic with the Port of New York. Much later, when the Museum of Printing was searching for a home, the warehouse served as a storage facility for historic presses, metal type, typesetters, and early computer equipment—much of which still remains.

“New Print” Will Prevail

Published August 12, 2019

Where will printers make money in the future? Some say it will be from digital printing. But digital printing is usurping analog volumes and analog volumes are not growing. In order to grow, the printing industry must find new products and new services.

Frank Holds All the Cards

Published August 2, 2019

Frank tours the National Playing Card Museum in Turnhout, Belgium, located on the site of an 18th-century printing plant that produced the original playing cards for Europe and other parts of the world, such as China. The museum’s collection includes commercial and private brand cards, as well as antique presses from the plant’s history as it moved from letterpress, to lithography, and eventually film. The production process required special finishing equipment (to add rounded corners to the cards) and the company even produced its own packaging.

The Scariest Phrase Frank Has Ever Heard

Published July 26, 2019

Frank bemoans the loss of ebook access by Microsoft users who were told that “The books will stop working.”

Frank Is Singin' in the Purple Rain

Published July 19, 2019

Frank discusses a batch of miscellaneous items: the time we spend on mobile devices vs. TV, the new Pantone color in memory of rock star Prince, and the sale of the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain. As you would expect, he has opinions on all these items—and would even like his own Pantone color.

All the News That's Fit to Digitize

Published July 12, 2019

Many newspapers are seeing more digital subscribers than print subscribers. Frank bemoans the fact that printed publications are archived in digital form and the printed versions may be discarded.

Frank Has Some Choice Words

Published June 28, 2019

Frank goes off on a mini rant about the latest buzzword in the industry. The industry trend toward diversification of printing services is evident—we print on more than paper. We need a better term that describes that trend.

For Frank's Eyes Only

Published June 21, 2019

Hoefler&Co at www.typography.com just released a new “security” font that has all black boxes for do-it-yourself document redacting. They also offer a typographic citation book so you can shame those whose type use offends you.

Frank Talks Type with Paul Shaw

Published June 14, 2019

Paul Shaw is a noted designer and design historian. For three decades, he has researched and written about the history of graphic design with a focus on typography, lettering, and calligraphy. He recently gave a talk at the Museum of Printing in Haverhill, Mass. He talks with Frank about type and type trends.