One for the Books

The client was Pearson Education and the project is Tambora, an open-source development effort that is building a business-to-business, Web-based application designed to facilitate the exchange of information between book publishers and printers. This information includes job specifications, purchase orders and invoices. Despite its initial targeted scope, Green doesn’t foresee any problem with adapting the technology to other types of commercial printing.

As an open-source project, Tambora is open to all interested parties and is not specific to any company or software, Green says. So far, two other U.S. printers have signed on—Courier Corp. and Phoenix Color. Open source also means there are no fees associated with the program, but all participants are expected to invest sweat equity toward its completion, points out the company exec.

Green believes the cooperative nature of this effort is key to its acceptance. “The e-business marketplace in book publishing is still very new,” he notes. “For any solution to be successful, it must have a broad base of support among both print customers and vendors.”

For its part, Von Hoffmann is first working on Web-enabling firm order (reprints only) and quote/pricing requests from major educational customers, according to Green. “We will follow this with capabilities for job planning/first print orders and advance shipping notices. Clients will also be given online access to job status, schedule and inventory information.”

The book printer is using PRIMAC business management software as the underpinnings of its Tambora implementation, Green says. “The software provides an easily customizable environment and creates an open and highly scalable management system,” he explains. ODBC provides the link that enables data to be pulled from the PRIMAC system into a secure Web server, he adds.

Von Hoffmann also has started down the path of electronically linking its internal business management and production systems. “We have developed an electronic job ticket tied into our PRIMAC software and accessed via our intranet. It’s basically just the paper ticket we were using before now in an electronic format,” Green says. “We don’t intend to set up equipment with this digital data, however. We might possibly create that type of link in the future, but it’s not high on the priority list right now.”

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