The Simple Life? Not for Printers! –Waldman

The complexity of typesetting and page makeup were simplified by desktop publishing, ending a whole subset of the printing industry—typographers. Need I go on about color separators, stripping departments, the lost printing of flyers due to the ease, cost efficiency and speed of broadcast e-mail, and so on.

Looking at Vince’s report and talking with printers in the field further convinced me that printers were burying themselves under Robert’s porch or more likely under their own. OK, maybe you have been hammered by hearing the big picture, the challenge of electronic media, from too many industry pundits. You’re bored and perhaps I am getting too repetitive. So I thought I would give you the tiny picture.

Hopefully you are not too far under that porch to realize that digital cameras have taken over. According to TrendWatch, 82 percent of all U.S. commercial photographers use a digital camera, as do 75 percent of all creative professionals. And it’s growing as digital cameras continue to get cheaper and better, which means millions of amateurs out there producing digital pictures.

Obviously we have all felt the impact on scanning. Still many in our industry have Photoshop experts that color correct and sharpen for the customer—a small revenue stream, but profitable nonetheless.

Unfortunately, newer tools and plug-ins in Photoshop have made color correction simpler for those working with non-critical color images. Thus many of these pros and some amateurs now edit their own images and have become fairly good—of course, further eroding that small revenue stream.

But anyone who has ever used Photoshop’s sharpening tool, Unsharp Mask, probably has found it as difficult to use as the old stripper’s technique it was named after. As a result, some printers and service bureaus have been able to maintain at least a small portion of that revenue by providing this service. Unfortunately, once again that will soon start to dissipate because new technology has dramatically simplified sharpening.

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