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McIlroy--Publisher's Newsletter Pays Tribute to Printer

March 1999

Well, that certainly confirms my impression of what's happening for most printers. Electronic prepress is really settling down. He goes on to say: "1998 was the year we finally threw out our last camera. Yes, the once 'can't do without' OPTICOPY was finally made redundant and removed from our plant." I think 1998 was a year when a lot of printers sent their last cameras packing.

But wait. "Interestingly," he continues, "it was bought by another printer." Well, I guess the industry is not yet 100 percent digital! At Friesens, David writes, "We do still receive some camera-ready material, but it is now scanned and turned into digital data."

Honest, Informal Update
In the "Electronic Prepress Update" section, David points out that "in the press area, we can buy a new piece of equipment and expect it to perform well for 10 years. In electronic prepress, after 24 or 36 months, whatever we have is outdated."

I think most printers can identify with that, although I'd offer an observation that printers are starting to stretch the life of their imagesetters and scanners. At Friesens, they're gearing up for computer-to-plate, which is expected to take place later in the year.

Another section of the newsletter deals with "Acceptable File Types." Apparently Friesens, like most printers, is getting a lot more Microsoft Windows files, although, as David explains, "Macintosh has been the leader in the graphic arts field, and many, including ourselves, still think they are."

The Windows files are causing problems. Friesens advises that, while color files produced from the Windows versions of QuarkXPress (version 3 only) and PageMaker (version 6 only) output without problems, just about every other Windows application (including Ventura Publisher, Frame-Maker and Corel Draw) are rated either "X," meaning that "jobs tend to be very problem-prone," or "C/R," meaning that camera-ready lasers are the only certain output. This corresponds with what I'm still hearing altogether too often.

I've impressed by Friesen's Publishers' Newsletter. It's a great example of a simple, informative, personal newsletter that helps to bring really good customers closer to a really good printer.

Many printers could take lessons from its format and content.

—Thad McIlroy

About the Author
Thad McIlroy is a San Francisco-based electronic publishing consultant and author, and serves as program director of Seybold Seminars. He welcomes comments at


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