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BookTech '99 Event Showcases Capabilities

May 1999
NEW YORK—Are we ready for Y2K? Is PDF ready for us? What is the impact of the Internet? These are just some of the questions asked and answered by speakers and attendees at the BookTech '99 show and conference held here recently.

Buyers of book manufacturing services whose principle question was: "Who will produce my next project?" roamed the trade show floor, searching for new sources of supply for special projects and renewing acquaintances with current suppliers.

With more than 130 exhibitors, there was plenty to check out, especially the digital printing portion of the show, where on-demand printing services were featured by many printing company exhibitors. In addition, Agfa, Scitex, IBM, Océ and Xerox displayed digital printing technologies.

In the conference sessions, speakers covered topics including PDF, composition, computer-to-plate technologies, digital printing and proofing, general management and financial decision-making. Session content targeted the book publishing manufacturing manager. (A list of all conference sessions is available on the Web at www.booktechexpo.com. Session tapes can be purchased from Professional Programs at 805-255-7774.)

So, what about Y2K? At the session "Y2K: Ready or Not?" representatives of Courier Corp. and R.R. Donnelley & Sons described great progress regarding internal checks and problem-solving. They also reported having much success in collecting readiness information from key suppliers and cited contingency planning as a current focus.

Speaker Virgil Horton, print media consultant for the Graphic Communications Association (GCA), sounded a note of confidence that printers would be ready to accept files, create film and plates, and print successfully by December 31, 1999, and he advised printers and publishers against creating a false crisis in transportation and supply arenas through excessive materials stockpiling.

At several scheduled sessions on the use of Adobe's PDF file format, exciting progress with PDF technologies was described, though many noted that there are still a few stumbling blocks and a need for preflighting and editing tools.

It was noted throughout the sessions that the Internet is changing the way publishers sell books, even as digital technologies allow processing of material in fast and flexible ways.

In a session called "The Publishing Budget Watcher's Fast Forecast," Robert Mathews, senior vice president and general manager of Quebecor Books, noted, "During this past decade, electronic digital technologies have and will continue to take the printing industry from its historical perspective as a mystical, craft production process with long production cycles, to a more precise, easily transferable production platform.
 

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