Archives for the month of: November, 2011

In the olden days I’d have gotten out the paste pot, but I recently got a Mac at work, so now I can venture into the world of Quark, InDesign, Photoshop and correcting PDFs.

We have a 5 volume work, converted from an original 6 volume set by taking the final volume — Notes and Index — and dividing it between the 5 text volumes, which are now more convenient as five self-contained books. The Introduction was reproduced in each of the five volumes, but nobody thought to transfer the notes to the Introduction into each of the individual volumes. So now only the first volume has the notes to the Introduction. It only took about 18 months for anyone to notice this. The Intro Notes (conveniently less than a page) would handily fit onto the last page of the Introduction in the other volumes. So I had to get the PDFs, extract the page with the Intro Notes from Volume 1, and extract the final page of each of the other volumes’ Introduction. I then opened InDesign and imported the target page for Volume 2 into a layout I had prepared for it. Into that file I then imported the page of Notes from Volume 1, reduced the text box so that only the material I needed was showing, and positioned it. When all was ship shape, I saved it as a PDF, and then replaced the old page in the original PDF with the new page carrying the Notes. Step and repeat for Volumes 3-5.

I was my first venture into this sort of thing, but it took me all morning. If I had gone with the pot of glue and the Xacto knife, I could probably have done all 4 volumes in about half an hour. Of course I would need to have destroyed 4 copies of volume 1 and one each of the other volumes, and would then have needed to ask the printer to scan the pages and place the pages in the PDFs they have. We’d have paid something for that work. I guess that doing it the way I did may actually have saved some money. With luck I will become more efficient with experience. I am enjoying learning new tricks.

[I should acknowledge Dan Earley, without who’s help I couldn’t have done any of this.]

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Look out. It’s coming.

Really there’s nothing to prevent a publisher from setting up every reprint for automatic ordering today. Well, that’s not quite true: preventing it is the fact that many printers don’t have EDI capability, and nor of course do many publishers. But once you get that taken care of — as we will quite quickly — then the way is clear to avoid spending any staff time debating whether or not to reprint the vast majority of your backlist, and then executing the decision. You just need to program your system with a minimum stock level, and a reorder quantity. When the stock level is reached an order is automatically sent to the printer via EDI. Of course both numbers need monitoring over time in order to keep them aligned with sales rates; of course you’d be right to object that in theory your computer could use some algorithm to factor in varying sales rates. All this is being done today.

Going beyond that, there is the prospect of turning the whole shebang over to the printer: give them access to your sales and inventory information, and tell them to keep you stocked. How they do it and exactly when would be up to them. You’d need agreements on avoiding overstocking of course.