Printing Software Manuals (was Printing in the UK?)

Subject: Printing Software Manuals (was Printing in the UK?)
From: Chris Gooch <Chris -at- lightwork -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 16:18:16 +0100

Last week I asked about people's experiences dealing with printing
companies, specifically for producing software manuals in the UK.

I received several replies, thanks all, and so thought I'd post a brief
summary. There were also some general points which may apply
to non-UK readers.

The best solution for shortish print runs seemed to be to find a
supplier with a Xerox Docutech machine---basically this is
something like an industrial-size laser printer. Litho printing
produces even better quality results but you need a certain
size print run (getting toward 300 or more) to bring the price
per unit down to the same as Docutech. Rhonda
in New Zealand mentioned a Risograph machine, which
apparently uses printing ink to electronically etch its own
master of each page - so it works out cheaper per page
impression than laser/Docutech technology, and also
avoids the set up costs associated with film and plates
(which is what makes a litho style process only economic
for larger print runs). I'd never heard of Risographs, but
will be researching this some more.

More than one person (myself included) use a litho
process to print a large run of covers, and use those
covers from stock to bind manuals produced from a
Docutech (overprinting the covers works quite well as
long as this is planned for when designing artwork).

It was also mentioned by more than one person
(David, Graham) that finding a single trusted supplier
and sticking with them is much preferable to
tendering for bids for each job. However
I'd add to this that sometimes important members
of staff at a printing supplier may move on and that
can be almost as much of a problem as switching
suppliers. These hidden costs to switching suppliers
need to be borne in mind (my boss is keen that I
shop around to "save money" for example, but may be
counterproductive if not handled with care).

I guess this point becomes even more important now
that there are so many B2B type companies around
that basically farm out your work to various different
companies. Best to use someone you trust who can
do everything in house (including QA).

Finally, here are some companies people have mentioned
they have used successfully in the past for this type of work;

Charlesworth, Huddersfield, UK.
LSL Press, Bedford, UK.
Elanders-Hindson, Tyneside, UK (also Sweden).
Powell Print, Dover, UK.

Somebody also mentioned Corporate Document Solutions
(CDS) who have sites in both the US and the UK, although
I must admit I didn't find them - apparently they are an
offshoot of Kinko's (a chain of photocopy shops in the US
who do have some shops in London). Apparently Lynn
had good results with the Omaha, Nebraska shop.

All can take electronic files (Postscript or PDF) and can
handle binding as well. They all have Docutechs, some have
litho capabilities as well, and I'll be asking some if they
have one of these Risograph machines. Sending PS or PDF
is preferable to MIF, Word, or any other "source" format
as there can be no confusion between versions of software,
missing fonts, etc. etc.

Thanks again for the feedback - this list really is a
valuable resource.

If anyone wants more details please mail me direct.

Christopher Gooch, Technical Author,
LightWork Design Ltd., Sheffield, England.
chris -at- lightwork -dot- co -dot- uk


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