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Noel Ward

Real World Digital

By Noel Ward

About Noel

Noel Ward is Managing Director of Brimstone Hill Associates, which specializes in marketing communications in the printing industry, including video production. He can be reached at 603-672-3635 or via email at His website is, and he has a YouTube channel.

Value-added in the Convenience of the Printed Page

Just so you know, this is me, in 200 words.
I've been banging around the print biz wearing various hats since the late '80s. I've bought print, run mail programs and managed data-driven print long before it was called that. Been a marketing director. Won a Caples Award. Helped a bunch of quick printers get rolling with electronic publishing and digital print. Edited three print magazines and two websites. Ran a fly-fishing magazine. Wrote a book. Written a bazillion articles, columns, case studies, interviews, white papers and given lots of talks on the power of putting specks of toner and drops of ink on a page. Shot a lot of video, some of which shows up on my YouTube channel, RealWorldPrint. I've evolved into a marketing guy who helps industry vendors and print providers tell the story—in print, on the web and on video—of how they can help customers make more money and be more successful.

So, I travel, write, speak and shoot video, all focused on how digital print works in the real world. Hence the name of this blog, where I'm going to wonder, worry, comment, rant and ruminate. And I welcome your feedback because this should be a two-way communication. Let’s have some fun.

Wikipedia Does Books
Wikipedia is often the first stop on the web for basic information on people, places and things. But with all the links and details it can be unwieldy to gather and read all the stuff you collect. It's no fun to have 30 or so tabs open and flip back and forth, even on a nice big monitor. And even if you print out all the pages, you just wind up with a stack of single-sided letter size pages that may not be all that convenient to read and use.

But suppose you could combine all those pages into a customized, perfect bound book, digitally printed and delivered to your door in about 48 hours?

That's the idea behind PediaPress. Already up and running in 17 languages in 33 countries, it's now available in English and seems like a compelling way to aggregate a lot of content that may only be relevant to you, and in a more portable format than a bunch of loose pages. If an electro version is your preference, you can also create a PDF in book form.

You can read about it and view a short video here.

The video example uses a fictional planned trip as the foundation for creating a custom travel book. This seems like a perfect application and I'll actually try this out and report back on how well it works. I'm doing a cross-country trip next month with my daughter and will pull together Wikipedia info on some of the places we want to stop and things we want to see. I've already poked around the websites for details on some of the places, but there's no convenient way to extract and compile all the info I want. Maybe PediaPress will do the job.

So, one might ask, "What's wrong with just pulling all this info wirelessly and paper-free on a smartphone or iPad?" Good question. And the answer lies in the convenience of the printed page. Reading from even a great screen can be tiring and not every place has Internet or cell phone reception. And a book is a lot friendlier than the screen of a smartphone, laptop or iPad while cruising along the interstate at 80 mph or negotiating a dirt road in the desert. And for the two of us, a bound book will also be a great memento of our trip.

I can see this kind of truly personalized publishing being expanded and creating a vast new range of one-off titles. Imagine being able to go to a couple dozen websites, say of national parks, and select the information you want to have with you when traveling or researching a given topic. Then that info could be saved, stored, compiled and formatted into a custom book. OK, there are rights issues to work out, and probably payment for content used, but that's mostly logistics. While hardly a killer app, this could be a great link between the web and print, and is another way these two media can be very complementary.

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