RE: Issues with distribution of technical documents

Subject: RE: Issues with distribution of technical documents
From: "Mike Starr" <writstar -at- wi -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 10:45:49 -0500

No doubt about it, the potential is there for documentation to become a
profit center. While the wild-eyed idealist in me would love to be able to
tell upper management that customers should always be able to order a
no-charge copy of the latest version of the printed manual, the realist in
me understands that the objective of any business is to make a profit.

Every company has its own unique approach to how they want to deal with
this type of situation. <generalization> Small companies tend to be more
user-focussed than large companies. My feeling is that when a company
achieves that critical mass where they begin to employ cost accountants and
have public shareholders that the user focus can fall by the wayside to be
replaced by an approach that attempts to minimize costs and maximize
earnings. </generalization>

Unfortunately, we as technical writers don't generally have enough internal
leverage to override the profit focus in larger organizations. We have to
acknowledge that we can't always get our way and that's just the way it

Demand printing allows a business to cut out inventory costs. If the
company decides to turn that into a profit center it's usually beyond our
control. Of course, if documentation becomes a profit center it may tend to
elevate the status of the documentation function within the organization.


Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - Technical Illustrator
Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - MS Office Expert
Office: (262) 697-6333 - Pager: (414) 318-9509 - Fax: (262) 697-6334
Home (262) 694-1028 - mike -at- writestarr -dot- com -

-----------------------Original Message-----------------------
>From: David Berg [mailto:dberg -at- dmpnet -dot- com]
>> From: Mike Starr
>> Another idea that I think will be a big thing in coming years is book
>> printing on demand. Cost per unit may be somewhat higher but that cost is
>> offset by the cost savings inherent in not having to print hundreds of
>> books and stack them up on shelves in the company stockroom. Being able
>> have one manual printed on demand and drop-shipped to the customer will
>> solve a lot of problems.
>For better or for worse, in this situation then the documentation becomes
>another profit center. That manual that costs $5 to produce will be sold to
>customers for $30-50. On-demand printing will benefit the company, not the


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