RE: "Print on demand" and "Docutech"

Subject: RE: "Print on demand" and "Docutech"
From: "David Seid" <dseid -at- access-laserpress -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 16:53:10 -0700

> Subject: "Print on demand" and "Docutech"
> From: Gilda_Spitz -at- markham -dot- longview -dot- ca
> Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 16:51:05 -0400
> X-Message-Number: 33
> Our company has always printed our manuals in runs of 200, 300, or 400,
> depending on anticipated demand. Sometimes we guess incorrectly and have
> lots of books left over by the time we're ready to put out the next
> of the software.
> People always get upset about that. I've always had to explain that, due
> to economies of scale, it's not that much more expensive to print, say,
> instead of 200, so you might as well go with the larger quantity.
> our chairman of the board has asked me to research the concept of "print
> demand".
> I spoke to our printing house, and they mentioned that the "Docutech
> printer" would be cheaper than our current method. They told me they'd get
> back to me with more info later this week. In the meantime, I checked the
> techwr-l archives, and found some references to Docutech, mostly with
> reference to Word.
> While I'm waiting to hear from the printer, I'd like some unbiased advice.
> Here are my questions:
> 1. I always thought that small runs would be prohibitively expensive. Does
> the Docutech make it reasonable to print 10 or 20 books at a time?

That really depends on the amount of bindery involved with your documents as
well as their finished size.
If your finished products specifications are complex, then the bindery
setups and handling may make your unit costs unacceptably high.

There are cost (pricing) factors applied by various printing companies such
-your overall volume of work,
-do you order many titles at the same time with the same specs but differing
page counts?
-your lead times
-your (or your managment's) tolerance for a higher unit cost to avoid scrap
-your desire to make revisions

> 2. We use FrameMaker, not Word. I assume that Docutech works with Frame as
> well - is that correct?

We find Frame to be vastly superior...with few if any problems related to
printing or fonts.

> 3. Instead of providing the printing house with the printed pages, I would
> instead generate a ps file from Frame, and send them that ps file - is
> correct?
Acrobat 4.0 is far and away the best program to use...but your fonts must be
embedded! And you should use a preferences file optimized for printing.

> 4. We use the Acrobat Distiller printer driver to produce a ps file for
> Acrobat. Can we use the same printer driver, or do we need a different
> (I saw some references in the archives to a special Docutech driver.)

You should not need a special driver for the Docutech...but some companies
are still running very old DocuTech's that are a little more finicky.
Printing problems usually relate more to the skill of the technical staff at
the printing company than anything else.

> 5. Are there any major pros or cons that I should know about?
>Electronic (DocuTech) printing should always be more cost effective, even
runs up to 500 or 1000. We do runs up to 25,000 for certain 7" x 9" manuals
(we print them 2-up for efficiency). Any printing company that is selling
you black ink offset printing for the 200-300 qty range is probably charging
more than is competitive in today's world. Docutech quality is perfectly
acceptable for the vast majority of black ink print applications.

There are a multitude of variables to consider...they all interact and they
are intertwined with the management philosophies extant in your organization
and the economics of the products you are selling.
There are no hard and fast rules...every situation is unique.

David Seid
> Thanks in advance.
> Gilda Spitz
> Manager of Documentation
> Longview Solutions Inc.

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