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Magazines publishers

Production specifics

Magazines and other colour periodicals as well as product catalogues and elaborate advertising booklets are prepared by very different publishers. From large media holdings with their rich know-how and experience to small editorial offices employing several persons and specialising in niche titles usually with small resources and no specialists – all of them aim at maximising the end product quality while taking care of the production cost.

Printing product such as a colour magazine or catalogue, even though it seems to be quite a general product is an effect of work by many persons who must create essentially valuable content and impeccable artistic form. From the technical point of view preparation of such product is very often quite a challenge, mainly due to connection of various technologies of print and paper, types of binding or care for proper reproduction of the graphic concept. Prioritising content and artistic form visible mainly in the luxury sector publications make the process standardisation quite important. It helps in obtaining repeatable effects and in preparing material in uniform manner.

In the case of periodicals available in distribution also the important issue is the attempt at satisfying the advertising accounts needs – the key element of this business model. The agencies put a lot of pressure on protection of the advertised brands and enforce constant quality improvement – especially with regards to colour mapping.

The contemporary publishing houses very rarely have their own print shops and the process is usually commissioned to the external specialised printers. In many cases machine facilities of one print shop are shared between several publishers who compete between themselves. Such model of work in connection with large publications makes proper observing the contracted schedule of works very important and therefore, also enforces care for delivery of materials on time and in the proper form.

Creation of next issues of TV guide or many hundreds of pages of product catalogue is group work. It requires necessary coordination of team work made of persons with various predispositions. Publishing project management means constant struggle with time and with the print shop production schedule, with the quality of delivered material and coordination of works of editors, graphic designers, reproduction studio and print shop as well as advertising agencies. Knowledge about progress of works and possible discrepancies which could affect the end results is therefore crucial. Also important is the communication between the team members who most often operate in dispersed locations.

Problems and Challenges

Planning and organisation of work are the key challenge. During coordination of work of many persons in the editorial office and during preparation of adverts it is necessary to be in control of time limits and to ensure proper assignment of duties related to delivery of content and materials of proper quality and on time.

With regards to technical solutions the key challenge for an editorial office is to achieve the best results while bearing in mind the costs issue. This may for example mean choosing worse quality paper in the case of periodicals oriented at the less demanding recipients who will not however accept very bad colour reproduction, while technical requirements enforce the necessity of using additional processes of ink reduction and trapping. In the case of publication of more luxurious character the quality of colour reproduction and the print precision are of key importance. Also important issue is the pressure created by the advertising accounts who care about the quality of products published on the periodicals pages.
 
By standardization of production in a preparation room the necessity of establishing the material preparation method for each time is eliminated. This is crucial when the production ends up in a print shop not related directly with the publisher. Such approach allows for fast adjustment of material to the changing conditions and enables change of print shop from issue to issue and even for production of material (e.g. cover or publication content) in two separate print shops.

Replacing the traditional hardcopy proofs with soft proofing system creates significant savings and at the same time gives preview of the same material in various locations. The optimal solution is given by the system allowing for preview of material both at the advertising agency, at the editorial office, production section or in the print shop all in the same way. It helps in visible reduction of logistics costs and speeding up the acceptance process.

The new challenge for publishing houses is transformation from the print era into the new electronic publications. The process has many possible implementations, both by total change of material preparation system and utilising the already existing production system of material for print. In many cases the second system is economically justified – due to the material character and its costs of preparation. In such a case a method is needed allowing for fast and cheap creation of editions in the form of replica of printed content enhanced by the interactive elements.

Solution

The PuzzleFlow Publisher is a solution ensuring maintenance of current printing production in large scale publishing houses: from small specialised editorial teams to large media holdings. The system tasks include: production planning for many titles and many target production works (print shops), edition planning – the electronic editorial order, delivery, verification and conversion of production material in the form of PDF files, advertising agencies support, soft-proofing system and support for trial print outs on equipment, internal communication in the editorial teams, preparing materials for e-publishing needs and archiving.

The Print Manager – is a MIS system applicable in large publishing houses and print shops operating for publishing purposes. It offers support to the production planning process based on the data obtained from orders and on manually inserted corrections of the Gantt’s chart. It visualises the production process, machines utility and enables precise scheduling of production taking into account the probability of unpredicted stoppages. Thanks to the electronic process charts the whole publication may be described in an uniform manner. Monitoring the order processing stages in large edition production enables ongoing reaction to the occurring threats of shortages in raw materials.

InfoCRM is a completion of the above systems, it provides efficient support of business processes related to orders and communication between contractors, both inside the publisher as in a print shop and in distribution. The InfoCRM allows for inserting business processes workflow while ensuring compliance with quality management procedures.

Production Planning

  • Production planning system with time limits support and notification system
  • The edition planning system allowing for establishing the distribution of articles and adverts within the publication (electronic outlay)

PrePress

  • Automatic verification of technical side of material during its forwarding from the graphic designer to the system, allows for elimination of errors, e.g. related to incorrectly specified page sizes
  • Conversion of materials to PDF/X and GWG standards (including transparencies flattening)
  • Taking into account the ink saving process and conversion for the particular type of paper – colour management based on ICC profile
  • Remote proofing system – enables sending material to any device in the publisher’s infrastructure in order to make the hard proof
  • Soft proofing system – allows for showing the exact mapping of colours of the published material on calibrated monitors and proofing stations with the ability of limiting acceptance only to such stations
  • Ability to archive editorial material and adverts.

Management Board

  • The analytical module – enables finding information on many production aspects such as the amount of the processes works, pages, versions, delays
  • Clear specification of responsibility for all levels from title and its production parameters to a single page and an advert
  • Monitoring the work progress – enables indicating potential threats and risk evaluation.
  • Authorisation system – allows for verification and limiting authorisations of the particular persons and therefore they have no access to the unpublished material

Solution Advantages

  • The electronic editorial order and edition planning system unifies and reports any discrepancies from the assumed schedule, indicated the responsible ones for potential delays
  • Using the modern PDF/X and GWG standards.
  • Automatic delivery of material to the indicated print shop with the possibility of verification the transmission correctness
  • Immediate verification of the delivered material during the process of its forwarding into the system – preflight on the customer side
  • Support for the soft proofing system – eliminates the need of hardcopy proofs
  • Adverts assembly system enables sending the advertising material completely independently from the editorial pages
  • Unification of the communication system between the persons at the publisher’s.

Implementation Benefits

  • Work organisation and communication improvement both in the editorial teams and in the relations with the external customer and with print shop
  • Reduction of time necessary for preparing material and shortening preparation process by automation of the process
  • Improvement of colour reproduction process and elimination of technical errors by standardisation of material conversion process into PDF/X and GWG and the possibility of material verification from the graphic station
  • Ink cost savings while using the reduction and ink optimization system
  • Reduction of preparation costs by using replacement soft-proofing system instead of the traditional hardcopy proofs
  • Elimination of production errors by implementing the system of substantive content acceptance (correction) and technical content acceptance (reproduction)
  • Optimisation of  the decision making process with regards to management – thanks to engagement of analytical tools
  • Reduction of preparation costs of electronic issues thanks to the immediate conversion of material for printing