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Monday, 02 November 2009

Worldcolor has signed a multi-year deal which extends its relationship with publishing giant Macmillan. It will involve printing approximately 800 million trade bestsellers, textbooks and mass market paperbacks and includes related warehousing and distribution services.

"The Macmillan name is one of the most distinguished in all of book publishing, which makes us even more proud to be able to renew and extend our valued relationship with this important customer," said Kevin J. Clarke, President of Worldcolor's Publishing Services Group. 

Macmillan includes imprints such as St. Martin's Press, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Henry Holt, Tor, Forge, Bedford/St. Martin's, and W.H. Freeman and Worth Publishers.

"We are happy to renew our relationship because we know that Worldcolor has the capacity and resources to serve our needs, and the ability to help us adapt to changes in our markets, said John Sargent, Macmillan's Chief Executive Officer. "We see increasing demand for shorter-runs, quicker productions turns, better distribution and innovative technology solutions. We will partner with Worldcolor to continue to drive innovation and efficiency in book production and distribution."

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Accurate Impressions of Toronto has installed a Presstek 34DI to supplement its current roster of toner and smaller conventional offset presses. The company was established in 1930 as Accurate Distributing and in 1990 merged with A&R Advertising. The company currently has nine full-time employees.

“We founded our company as a distributor of door-to-door advertising materials,” said Richard Bergeron, President of Accurate Impressions. “By 1988, we realized we could print many of the materials we distributed ourselves, adding a new revenue stream, and our printing business has continued to grow.  We acquired the Presstek 34DI press to supplement our one- and two-colour offset and toner-based printing capability, bringing 80 percent of work we formerly outsourced in-house."

Bergeron says he also combines the output from DI press with the company's toner-based capabilities to imprint variable information in a hybrid manufacturing model. In addition to designing and printing flyers hangers and other promotional material, Accurate Impressions also helps businesses distribute them, either by Canada Post or through its own door-to-door distributuion services.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

After ForestEthics publicly challenged the credibility of Sustainable Forest Initiative in September, the Coalition for Fair Forest Certification, with many members part of the SFI, have fired back, claiming that FSC "engages in unfair and deceptive trade practices."

A New York Times report outlines the skirmish, which is mainly focused on certification of construction materials in LEED buildings. The U.S. Green Business Council is in the process of developing benchmarks for reasonably sourced materials, benchmarks which the Coalition says are just parroting FSC standards and which many Coalition members would not pass.

"They’re attempting to put a green label on status quo practices," Corey Brinkema, President of FSC's U.S. operations, told the New York Times. "FSC will fight that. Otherwise, the value won’t be there and we will all lose."
Thursday, 22 October 2009

ECRM founder Dr. William F. Schreiber passed away suddenly in late September at the age of 84. His work helped usher in a new generation of graphic communications technology, both in print and on screen.

Dr. Schreiber, along with Melvin J. Fennell from the Associated Press and fellow MIT professors Samuel J. Mason and Donald E. Troxel, developed one of the first commercially successful optical character recognition machines in 1969. ECRM (Electronic Character Recognition Machinery) was founded the same year.

Dr. Schreiber's professional interest was imager processing systems, including printing, facsimile and television.

In his lifetime, he was awarded the Honors Award from the Technical Association for the Graphic Arts (TAGA), the David Sarnoff Gold Medal from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the Gold Medal of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), and is a four-time recipient of the Journal Award of SMPTE. He was a devoted member of TAGA, an active member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as SPIE, and a fellow of IEEE and SMPTE.

"2009 marked ECRM's 40th year of service to the business communications industry and thousands of our customers which span the globe. Yet none of it would have become possible without the direct involvement of Dr. Schreiber," said current ECRM President Rick Black.  "His passion and tireless dedication to electrical engineering and digital communications have elevated theories to concepts, and concepts to realities. We will never fully appreciate the impact Dr. Schreiber has had on the technological advancements realized in the last 50 years. And his influence is further appreciated in the tens of thousands of colleagues, educators, and students who will carry forth his teachings and ideas for decades to come. We've all benefitted from Dr. Schreiber's work and yet we will never fully understand and appreciate how much."

Thursday, 22 October 2009

After talks broke down between Royal Mail employees and management, 42,000 mail centre workers have walked off the job in the U.K., in one of two planned 24-hour walkouts.

The next walkout, planned for Friday, will involve 78,000 delivery and collection staff.

Royal Mail will remain open, using managerial and contract workers to keep mail moving at reduced service. Special Delivery and Royal Mail Tracked pieces will be prioritized, but will also be slowed.

The workers are threatening an escalation of mail service by striking three days next week if demands are not met. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is complaining about worsening job conditions and job losses due to Royal Mail modernization.

UK Mail workers last went on strike in June of 2007 over pension plans and caused major disruptions through rolling job stoppages. According to the government, almost one million working days have been lost due to industrial action at Royal Mail since 2000.

Royal Mail says the cutbacks are necessary: "Mail volumes are down by around 10 percent year on year as competition from email and the web accelerates, with every one percent decline costing Royal Mail around £70 million in lost revenues."

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

HP is diving further into the world of print-on-demand publishing of out-of-print books with the launch of a new service called BookPrep. According to the company, it is possible to "bring any book ever published back into print through an economical and sustainable service model."

BookPrep essentially takes scanned materials and automatically applies cleanup which otherwise would be a time-intensive task for operators. Usually this involves cropping, sharpening, colour correction and removal of artifacts or damage.

“People around the world still value reading books in print,” said Andrew Bolwell, Director, New Business Initiatives, HP. “HP BookPrep technology allows publishers to extend the life cycle of their books, removes the cost and waste burdens of maintaining inventory, and uses a full spectrum of technologies to deliver convenient access to consumers.”

BookPrep also serves as a web service for people to read scanned books online or order a printed copy.

HP's move to digitize out-of-print books and reproduce them on demand mirrors that of Google, which partnered with New York-based On Demand Books earlier this year. HP has partnered with the University of Michigan and it will make more than 500,000 rare and hard-to-find books available for reprinting. Google's database of scanned materials reached 10 million titles on October 9, but only a small portion is available for printing. HP is encouraging publishers to submit their back catalogues to be digitized and made available for reprinting "to make the concept of 'out of print' a thing of the past."


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

As the Canadian dollar inches towards parity with its U.S. counterpart, the Bank of Canada announced today it will keep the interest rate at its current unprecedented low level for the near future.

While this is good news for consumers and domestic trade, it means that the dollar will likely stay high, reducing the attractiveness of Canadian exports on the world market.

“Heightened volatility and persistent strength in the Canadian dollar are working to slow growth and subdue inflation pressures,” the Bank of Canada said in a statement. “The current strength in the dollar is expected, over time, to more than fully offset the favourable developments since July.”

The key policy rate is expected to stay at 0.25 percent until June 2010.

The Bank will update its Monetary Policy Report on Thursday, which will detail its outlooks and projections on the economy.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A joint study by the Financial Post and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has ranked the most business-friendly cities in Canada. This year, the second year of the study, had Saskatoon take the top position.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business ranks cities by "policy, which encompasses tax and regulatory policies; presence, which reflects the concentration of entrepreneurs and business startups; and perspective, which gauges the optimism and success of actual small business owners."

Cities in Quebec also ranked favourably along with cities in Saskatchewan in the study while Toronto was dead last, at 96. Toronto suburbs fared better, leading the National Post to call Toronto the "bedroom community of the 905." Markham ranked 33rd on the list.

High municipal taxes are a major factor determining the friendliness of cities. Toronto has a property tax rate for businsses roughly 4.5 times that of a comparable residential whereas Saskatoon's rate is 1.75 times.

Read the Financial Post story here.


Friday, 16 October 2009

Bruce Kenworthy of Rhino Printing recently spoke to members of the Alberta Graphics Arts Industry Network about the WorldSkills Calgary printing competition. Marvin Calderon, a journalism student at SAIT, reports on the meeting and why Kenworthy feels WorldSkills had such a positive impact on the industry. The October issue of PrintAction magazine includes a feature story written by Simon Beauchamp about his experiences at WorldSkills.


By Marvin Calderon
The past year of economic doom and gloom has many in printing worried about the security of their careers, but some are optimistic about the new wave of challenges and opportunities facing the industry. With a rising generation of professionals who are adaptable, resourceful and skillful, the sector is making a strong move forward in imprinting a positive outlook for the future of printing.

On Thursday September 24, 2009, members of the Alberta Graphics Arts Industry Network (aGAIN) heard from Bruce Kenworthy of Rhino Printing Solutions how the future of the print industry in Canada was in good hands.  

“Printing is going to be around for a long time,” said Kenworthy. “It’s sustainable, it’s renewable and we’re damn lucky to do what we do.”

Kenworthy was a guest speaker inside the historic Lougheed House in Calgary, Alberta, and was invited by aGAIN to share his take on the recent WorldSkills Calgary 2009 event in which he was a workshop supervisor for the offset printing competition, a volunteer position he was offered last minute. He told the audience of 26 people – compromised of industry leaders, educators and students – how WorldSkills had a positive impact on the industry.

The event, held over the first week of September, showcased the talent of hundreds of international competitors in their respective trades to approximately 151,000 visitors and revealed the versatility of the competitors.

He explained competitors in the printing competition were scored on five tasks: Printing with Sheetfed Offset Training Simulators (SHOTS) from Sinapse Print Simulators; print job (CMYK and one mixed colour) on Heidelberg SM-52 press; cutting of products; digital printing; and density measurements.

“This was the first time in the short history of offset printing in WorldSkills that we used print simulators,” he said – the event has only been in the competition for three years.

He recounted how some competitors found it difficult to work the simulators because they had no previous experience using them. Canadian bronze-medalist Simon Beauchamp had some experience on such systems, he said, and skillfully adapted to the unforeseen situation. As a result, he received a perfect score in the task.

Development and training
Willem Sijpheer, academic chair for the Journalism and Digital Graphics Communication (DGC) programs at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Polytechnic, reinforces that it is absolutely vital for new workers in the printing industry to have access to the training needed to manage evolving products and services.

For this reason, according to Sijpheer, SAIT acquired a new Heidelberg press to use in instructing its future students. He explains that Heidelberg has been very supportive in helping the DGC program acquire up-to-date technologies because they understand that future SAIT grads might become major decision makers in the future.  

“The new press will give SAIT that recognition for many years to come in the printing and graphic arts industry,” says Sijpheer, “and will ensure SAIT graduates are well prepared for many employment opportunities.”   

According to Kevin Henderson, a WorldSkills ambassador, many former industry workers who attended the event were surprised by the advancement of technology in the industry. These were people who came out of school over 20 years ago, he said, and sought out jobs in the oil industry because that was were the money was. 

“But they still had an anchor to the print industry to come back and see what technology is doing to the industry, and anyone I talked with had their eyes opened that it’s certainly changed.”

Emerging youth in printing
aGAIN members also heard from Kenworthy about the other competitors’ training in their home countries, and the remarkable skill level of these young industry workers. One competitor stood out from the rest with his incredibly trained eyes, said Kenworthy.

When it came to mixing the ink in their second task, the competitor from Japan “just looked at the colour in his Pantone book and never used anything else after that,” he said.  

“He mixed everything by eye.” 

He said his colour was one of the closest matches of all the colour tests. 

Kenworthy said, above everything, he’s learned that “after seeing the quality of the competitors from around the world, there’s good printers all throughout this world and the industry is in good hands. 

“Not only here in Canada, from what I saw from what we were doing, but [also] around the world.”

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Heidelberg Chairman Bernhard Schreier responded to the collapse of merger talks between his company and manroland in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Frankfrut General Newspaper) today.

When asked why the merger talks failed between the two companies, Scrheier did not answer the question directly, instead saying, " Let me put it this way, I was extremely surprised at the way the whole thing was reported in the media. In our ad hoc announcement on Friday, we confirmed that sales appear to be bottoming out at a quarterly level of around EUR 500 million, but we predict that it will take a little longer before there can be any talk of a recovery."

When asked again regarding the merger talks, Schreier was reluctant to acknowledge talks were even underway. "We have not been commenting on speculation and that will remain our policy," said Schreier.

He also expressed surprise at the reaction from the company's financial forecast last Friday. "We recorded a positive free cash flow in the second quarter, which means that our position for the year as a whole will be better than the previous year. If anyone feels this can be interpreted as an indication of new risks, I have no comment to make."

Schreier mentioned that Heidelberg were in talks with Koenig and Bauer, but only regarding possible manufacturing agreements.

When asked whether or not the company will be stepping up efforts to seek a new investor, Schreier said, "We never relaxed our efforts so there is no need to step up our activities in this area." He also said he was confident the crisis has bottomed out at sales of EUR500 million per quarter and annual sales will return to EUR 3 billion.

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