More Than 'Ink on Paper'
When expanding its service offerings, R.R. Donnelley & Sons looked at what it could do to help customers reduce costs and waste and improve cycle times. "What services could we offer beyond the printing and binding? We looked upstream and downstream to determine where the needs were," says Steven E. Zuccarini, president, Catalog and Retail Solutions. "Our goal was to help our customers capture the entire production supply chain." The company has met the demand for increased services through a combination of inhouse facilities and strategic alliances.
Prepress and Photography
The biggest area for printers' recent expansion efforts has been prepress. R.R. Donnelley's non-printing investment has focused largely on prepress capabilities. It established a separate business unit, Premedia Technologies, which offers conventional and digital photography, scanning, file conversion, color correction, digital asset management, and creative and workflow consulting. Others such as Quad and Banta also offer myriad prepress and digital content management services.
Phil Minix, managing director of catalogs for Reiman Publications and a former catalog consultant, recommends catalogers take a close look at their printers' prepress operations before turning over those responsibilities. "Working with multiple parties provides the best results. You may get fine quality working through your printer's services. I've worked with digital photographers who know how to work the equipment fine." But, he continues, "So much of photography is solving problems with lighting, etc. Same in the prepress area. I want the color work to be done in a framework of what can be achieved on press. I don't want it to be done in the framework of what is easiest on press, cheapest or fastest to produce. I want to get stunning color and then challenge the printer to match it."
For some catalogers, giving the printer a crack at providing these services is a good idea, Minix admits. "I would think for a smaller company, it would be more cost-effective. The other services that printers are offering to lure customers, like digital asset management, can make sense for many companies."