The Future Is With the Ladies, Anne and Carly --WaldmanMarch 2002
A few years back my wife took me shopping for a new kitchen table. Of course, I was ready to buy the first table I saw and get back to the football game. But, as you might imagine, she dragged me into every furniture store and design center on the planet. Each place we visited had catalogs and color brochures showing styles of tables that were not on exhibit.
My first thought was that's good for us printers. However, since so many catalogs were out of date, missing or just buried in a disorganized mess of printed materials, it wasn't easy to find the specific brochures she needed.
One store, however, was an eye opener. They had copied the catalog pages or got available PDFs and computerized most of their literature. The salesperson flipped through a computer screen and simply printed my wife's choices on an HP office ink-jet printer. It was in color and included a picture and the specs.
OK, I know what you're going to say. The quality wasn't as good as a commercially printed brochure, and you're right. But my wife was happy because she got what she needed. It was more than fit for her purpose. Most important, the furniture dealer had everything at its fingertips and didn't have to worry about stocking or sorting through countless brochures.
This was my first real experience with the distribute-and-print concept. It made quite an impression on me as I realized that the amount of printing this could eliminate was staggering. Plus, I knew that ink-jet and laser printers were going to get faster and better. And "oh boy" have they, and "oh my" will they.
Let's flash forward to Graphics of the Americas 2002. I was in a booth at the show with Adobe. Adobe was introducing InDesign 2.0 which, by the way, is the most significant new software introduction in our industry. (At some point I will write a column as to why it is so good.) I shared the booth with Adobe because I represented The CADD Institute of Miami, owned by my good friend, or amigo, Ernesto Infante, where I do Adobe Certified training.
It is one of my many ventures because I love to train people and I especially like spending more time in South Florida. I live in both
Villanova, PA, and Boca Raton, FL, and being of sound mind "Boca" is better. Obviously, we needed handout materials for the exhibition. I have a Xerox Phaser 7700 in my
Villanova home office. When I referred to the transfer of power earlier, this is what I was talking about. I had the ability to print my color handouts and posters instantly, and the quality was excellent.
This was true power as I did it right by my desk—desktop digital printing, if you will. For color posters up to 12x18˝ and a few thousand two-sided 81⁄2x11˝ color handouts, it was like having the power of that Komori press right in my home.
As we move into the future, ask yourself if you were a manufacturer why would you want to print and distribute countless numbers of brochures that get discarded or lost when you could send out current, well-organized PDFs? And as a dealer, why would you want to have mountains of out-of-date brochures cluttering up you showroom, when you can easily find what you want on your computer and then print it on your HP 2600?
And, if you're a car dealer or real estate agent who needs short-run color printing of 500 to 1,000 pieces, the Xerox Phaser 7700 can deliver right on your small office network. Plus, with programs like PrintShop Mail, you can customize or address automatically in one pass. Even large companies could use the 7700 for custom runs instantly.
OK, you counter, finishing is still a problem. Even though there are desktop folders, I simply went to my local Office Depot and they folded 1,000 brochures for me for $10. As desktop or desk-side digital printing catches on, there will be further innovations in desktop finishing equipment.
Anne and Carly, I said the future was in your hands, but it may not be in the way you think it is.
Carly, you bought a fine company with a good product when you bought Indigo. But your ink-jet printers are the answer for distribute-and-print scenarios that require only several copies.
Anne, I am not questioning Xerox's leadership role in digital printing. But take a trip to Wilsonville, OR, sample some of the region's fabulous Pinot Noirs, and then listen to the fine people that have produced and are working on what I think is the most innovative, exciting new product to come along in years—the Phaser 7700. I can't wait to see where it goes from here as it gets faster and better.
About the Author
Harry Waldman is a consultant and has been in the printing industry for 30 years. As a former company owner, he was well-known for implementing cutting-edge technologies. He has been on many advisory boards and received several honors for his industry contributions. Waldman is also an author. His book, Computer Color Graphics, published by GATF Press, enables readers to learn today's graphic software quickly by teaching the essential concepts. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.