Cost of Manuals--Interesting Phenomenon

Subject: Cost of Manuals--Interesting Phenomenon
From: George Schober <gschober -at- CINCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 11:58:22 -0500

On Monday I sent a question to the list concerning
the cost of producing manuals. I asked people to
respond directly to me, because I thought the topic
would not concern many people.

Since then I've gotten only two substantive letters, one
of which said that they'd used roughly the same method
as the one I described to calculate the costs of their
manuals, and one that suggested an outsourcing possibility.

But I've received quite a number of letters saying that the
topic is indeed of interest to others, and asking me to
forward any replies I've received.

Instead of responding to the individuals who asked for
forwarded letters, I'll resend my original letter along with
the two responses I mentioned. I've deleted the names
of the senders, since I'd object on some paranoid level to
my name circulating in cyberspace without my express permission.

George Schober
gschober -at- cincom -dot- com
I don't know if this is the appropriate forum for
this question, but I'll try. Don't post responses
or suggestions for a better place to ask; send
them to:

gschober -at- cincom -dot- com -dot-

The software company I work for is trying to document
its order fulfillment process, including costs. The
Publication Services department has calculated the
average cost of our manuals using the following items:

1) Cost of impressions (photocopies from masters)
2) Packaging costs, consisting of
- Covers
- Perfect binding
- Vinyl slip case for documents and product
- Color inserts for slip case

The total is then divided by the total number of manuals
produced. The current figure is approximately $8.91 per manual.

We know that this calculation method has problems.
Most obviously, it doesn't calculate anyone's time.
Nevertheless, that's what we're currently working with.

Does anyone out there work for a company that's done
a similar calculation? Would you be willing to share
your results in the most general terms?

Again, I don't think this is a matter of general interest, so
please e-mail me your responses.


George Schober
Translator and Senior Technical Writer
Document Solutions Group
Cincom Systems, Inc.


Off the top of my head, I don't remember the exact cost of our
manuals, but they are somewhere in the vicinity of $10 per manual.
We, also, calculate the cost of printing and binding the manuals
(including the quick reference cards, which are printed 2c and
laminated), but don't include the costs of writing. We print our
manuals (versus photocopying them).

If you really, really wanted, I could go dig up the pricing and work
up the actual costs for you. But I think the 10 bucks is pretty
George, you don't indicate is you are fulfilling from inventory or in some sort of print-on-demand. Are you fulfilling via
800 number? The company I worked for oursourced fulfillment to a company specializing in on-demand printing (docutechs).
Their proposal to us included postage costs, fax costs (should the consumer prefer that method), customer service (taking
orders, finding correct document, processing order), and a "per click" cost of each impression taken off the docutech. Any
bindery and/or overpacking was considered direct cost similar to your system. The "per click" cost was inflated to provide
them their margin of profit. Some fast-moving, but relatively static documents, were inventoried based on monthly demand

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