Who Should Handle Your Catalog Prepress?
By Alicia Orr Suman
In the pre-digital era, most catalog production followed a natural workflow with content moving from the agency and photographer to the prepress house and then on to the printer.
This is no longer always the case. The lines have become blurred regarding who among these vendors can provide each of the necessary production services, and often it's the color houses that are getting taken out of the loop.
Now, thanks to advances that make the necessary technology more accessible, a growing number of design firms, photographers and printers are able to fulfill catalogers' prepress needs.
Here are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether your catalog should work with a traditional color house or go with an alternative prepress service provider.
The major reason for using a separate prepress service vendor is quality. And it is for this reason that Susan McIntyre, of consultancy McIntyre Direct, still prefers to purchase prepress and other services individually.
"For most catalogers, using a separate color house may produce better results," says Phil Minix, managing director of catalogs at Reiman Publica-tions. While at Reiman it makes sense to keep all prepress in-house for its 13 magazines and many catalogs, inserts and direct marketing efforts, Minix says that in his experience, "the place that does this for a living will produce a better product than a vendor who does prepress as a sideline."
Another point to consider: Minix believes that using a separate prepress house will challenge the printer more. "When the color is produced at the printer, they may proof something that they know is achievable on press. With a third party, you'll be more likely to produce something that might be a stretch to get on press."
Of course to get such results, he notes that the prepress house needs to know a good deal about what is possible to get on press and have the proper profiles applied for the paper, equipment and inks that will be used.