Archive for August, 2009

Here’s a POD, There’s a POD, Everywhere a POD POD

Friday, August 28th, 2009

First what is POD? This is really confusing. There are iPod’s for music, pod casts for recording, pea pods, pod people from the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Printing on Demand (pod).

Since I’m a print broker and this blog concerns itself with printing, publishing, and [other] observations you could guess that the pod I’m concerned about is Printing on Demand. By the way, that’s a darned good phrase. Whoever came up with it should write political slogans, you know, the kind of things that sound good but have no real substance. After all, if you wanted something printed why not have it done on demand?



“My good sir, I demand my printing.” Wha? What does it mean? The phrase by itself is meaningless, but it has impact. It lets the customer feel that they are in charge by being able to demand it. How often if life do we get to demand anything? Demands usually cause trouble, but here’s the printer giving you permission to DEMAND something. That’s refreshing, don’t you think?

First, printing on demand is a misnomer. It is not a printing method at all. The method is called digital. Think of POD like the term quick print. Quick printing is offset printing utilizing faster turnarounds, smaller runs, and cheaper methods, like using paper plates instead of metal. There is no printing process called Quick Print. And there isn’t a printing press called an “on demand.”

Digital printing burst onto the printing scene just a few years ago. The computer industry spawned it, and in fact, the printing you do on your office laser jet is digital printing. The difference between the commercial digital “press” and your office printer boils down primarily to speed and sophistication.

So what’s the big deal? Oh my friend, it is a very big deal because Printing on Demand is revolutionizing the field of publishing. Until it came around, it wasn’t economically feasible to print just a few books. To prepare an offset press for printing requires several steps that we call “make-ready” in the biz. The time and materials, such as plates,  and file prep, have front-end costs. With POD, many of those front-end costs don’t exist. if your electronic file is right, the setup is virtually done. Now is the beginning of the golden age of short-run publishing.

If the price is better why isn’t all printing POD? Because, it isn’t always better. For all the hoopla, POD has a serious weakness. It is great at micro print runs, like quantities between one and five-hundred, but can’t keep up with offset printing at around one-thousand. If you wish to print say 2,000 books, offset printing will offer a much better price, but if you only want 50, POD beats offset, hands down.

What’s the future of Printing on Demand? Who knows? I suspect that someone, somewhere soon will figure out a way to make digital printing more economical for longer runs and offset presses will quickly disappear like dinosaurs. That day isn’t here yet. For the time being I recommend digital printing for short runs and offset printing for larger.  Here’s a pretty simple guide: 500 or less = digital, 1,000 or more = offset, between 500 and 1,000, get a bid.

P.S. If you have self-published a book and want to learn how to totally master the power of Internet marketing check out The Author Platform.

Finally–Free Speech That’s Really Free!

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

14,400 hits, 94 countries, 7 months

I find it fascinating that this modern Internet age has brought both its opportunities and challenges. For example, I began writing this blog in January of this year. So far, I’ve had 14,400 hits in over 94 countries. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to express amazement that this Salt Lake City, Utah lifetime printing broker who has only been two foreign countries in his life, Mexico and Canada, has through the Internet been able to reach out to the entire world.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Now, my progress is not spectacular. I’m not an Internet shooting star. What I am is a person sitting at my desk on the lower east slope of the Wasatch Front in my eighty-year-old home overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. I’m a publicly-educated, middle-class guy, raised in a middle-class family, without any particular social advantages. My only real leg up is that I have a better-than-average capability to see the forest for the trees and a strong work ethic. With these abilities, I’ve managed to make a lower-upper-middle-class income over the past twenty years by selling my knowledge of printing and offering my services to help customers get their printed projects delivered on-time, at competitive prices, at improved quality levels.

What I’m trying to say is that I really haven’t achieved any more than millions of other Americans in similar circumstances.

Writing the Great American Novel

So what is it that this unspectacular, pretty average guy brings to the table that  people throughout the world might want to know? Obviously, my understanding of printing and how to get things done efficiently has proven to have value. It has been that knowledge that paid my bills for 20 years. What else? I wrote a novel and that experience brought me to the edge of my knowledge chasm.

Reaching my knowledge chasm

Reaching my knowledge chasm

I looked down and realized that I had no idea of how to cross to the other side. In the real world a printed book makes a poor bridge across a wide gulf. In the mind, however, a book can be anything. It can give you wings.

Could I produce a book? You bet. I could do that in my sleep. Did I know what to do with it once it was created? No way.

Those Who Sort the Avalanche

That’s when I discovered some interesting facts. I believed that writing a book was unique. Wrong, some 80% of adults would like to write a book. Of that 80%, many, like me, actually do it. I also believed that publishers would be anxious to get their hands on my special novel. Wrong again. I learned that most publishers aren’t interested in a manuscript that hasn’t been presented to them by well-connected agents, so I contacted a lot of agents. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them. They seemed oblivious to the particular genius of my book, then I discovered that both agents and publishers face daily avalanches of manuscripts. Far more than they could ever get through. How could anyone deal with this mass of paper? They take short cuts and make primary decisions on arbitrary things. Oops a misspelling–you’re out. Darn the manuscript was bound when the instructions said unbound–you’re out too. And so on. I was told that less than 4% of submitted manuscripts ever become books. Getting a book traditionally published isn’t an up hill battle, it is a vertical climb without a rope. I didn’t like the odds and began to seriously consider the concept of self-publishing.

Pre-build the Audience

That’s where I am now. I am learning everything I can as fast as I can about self-publishing and marketing. This blog, example gives me an opportunity to introduce myself to the world. So far this year, as I said earlier, over 14,000 people have checked in. By the end of the year, could that number double? What about the year after that? At some point, and I’m not sure when that will be yet, I will feel ready to invest in producing my book and offering it to my readers. My reasoning is that if people like my blog they will likely like other things I write.

Free, Free, Free

Again, I’m not a shooting star. I’m just a regular guy who has the ability to express myself fairly well in the medium of the written word. I have hopes and dreams just like any other person. I’m thrilled with the response to Talking Through My Hat–may it continue to grow. The reason I wrote my story here is to give others hope too. The Internet provides a platform to talk to the entire world. If you aspire to be an author, and apparently, 80% do, write a blog. If you don’t know how to get started look into The Author Platform by following this link. Talk to people and tell them who you are. Let them get to know you. It’s free or nearly free. It’s the First Amendment to the US Constitution in action. Free Speech for Free how could you get more democratic than that?

P.S.If you already have a self-published book and would like to enter it into a no-fee contest with winner chosen by reader votes go to Wake Up Celebrity Author on The Author Platform. The winner becomes the Barnes & Noble. com Best-Seller. Cool.

Will Offing the Middle Class Kill Small Business Too?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

80% living on 20% leftover’s

Déjà vu?

Déjà vu?

I learned just this year that the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) publishes a report (link) on the Internet about the United States. I was reviewing the section on the economy that was updated on August 13, 2009. In the middle of the report is this statement, “Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households.” Furthermore, “The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a ‘two-tier labor market’ in which those at the bottom lack the education, and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits.”

No middle class–no small business

For 34 years the American middle class has been steadily shrinking. Where will we be when the middle class is gone? Will we be safer, healthier, or wealthier? When you think about it, small business, the backbone of the American economy is in serious danger. As the split widens between the haves and the have nots, who will buy the products and services of small business? It won’t be the big corporations, that’s for sure. What will this country be like when the splitting stops and 20% of the population control 80% of the wealth, and 80% have to live on what’s left?

Americans slipping slowly down the drain

The CIA report also says, “Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade a budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.”

Printers probably the first to go

Why do I bring this up? My career has been spent in the printing business. Most printing firms in the United States are small businesses. When the middle class is gone, and small business owners disappear, what will happen to printing? The answer is obvious.

How can government help turn the tide?

  • Educational Needs. Provide educational opportunities to all citizens who want it. A college education shouldn’t create a lifetime burden of student loans. Free education would benefit us all.
  • Health Care. Make sure all citizens have access to good health care. We have the most expensive health care in the world and some of the most unhealthy citizens. One reason is because care is delayed until the need is critical.
  • Ban Lobbyists. Cut access of  corporate lobbyists and make sure they have only the same access to lawmakers as any other citizen. Our survival as a nation depends on fairness for all. Special interests cannot be allowed to rule. When special interests rule, the public loses.
  • Regulate Compensation Packages. Create an Executive compensation commission to review and regulate public corporations. Companies who are vital to the national interest and deemed too big to fail have to be subjected to intense scrutiny. Just as the SEC requires annual reports, compensation must be examined and regulated if necessary, to protect our common interest.
  • Recover Pension Funds. Create a collection mechanism to recover money from executives of corporations who raided or otherwise harmed vested pension programs. It is unconscionable that an employee be left penniless after working a lifetime for benefits, while the upper echelon retires comfortably.
  • Banking Transparency. Make sure publicly held corporate executives cannot secrete their fortunes in secret accounts. Transparency in banking is necessary only for those who have the power to wreak havoc on the economy and cause recessions.

I know, some of these suggestions will strike some as being un-American. Maybe you are right, but when any sector has the power to harm the whole, it has to be considered a public threat. The demise of the middle class is a public threat and must be treated as such.

The Easy Way To Reach Bill Ruesch
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