Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Printers & Publishers Prepare to be Amazed!

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Seeking Glimpses of the Future

I have my crystal ball out. It is sitting right in front of me on my desk. I’ve been searching its depths for some clue about the future of printing, publishing, and related industries. You know what I get? Nothing.

The only thing I know for sure is that things will change. This little prophesy doesn’t mean much, except to say that time is a river and we can either find a way to float with the current, or test our strength against it. (Pretty poetic wouldn’t you say?)

I’ve spent a lifetime, so far, learning all about offset printing. I now know quite a lot, but what is that worth? What is it worth really? When I think back, I can remember people who were expert typesetters and others who were great with scanning drums for four color separations. Their hard won knowledge became irrelevant almost instantly with the changes in technology.

I used to laughingly pontificate that someday Bill Ruesch Print Broker, would consist only of an equipment filled Winnebago. Customers would provide me with art files. I would drive over to the paper merchant’s warehouse, load-in the stock, and by the time I arrived at the customer’s dock the job would be completely printed, folded, and bound.

Book in a Box

That used to be my weird vision of the future. It made me and my customers chuckle at the absurdity. It isn’t so funny anymore now that the Espresso Book Machine exists. In one machine a whole book is created; from file to finished product in less than seven minutes.  Seven minutes–printed, bound, and ready to read. That is if you have hot pads. I understand that the books come out pretty warm and need to cool down a bit.

My vision of the future has come true. What do I see in the future now? I haven’t a clue. I think my predictor must be on the blink. I’d be willing to go out on a limb by stating, “It doesn’t matter what crazy, ridiculous, impossible notion we conceive, someone is probably already a step or two ahead of us, and are right this moment building something to make it happen.”

I’m prepared to be amazed. How about you?


Authors! 12 Easy Ways to Select a Non-Fiction Subject

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Never Too Many Diet Books

Never Too Many Diet Books

So you want to write a non-fiction book. Maybe you have an idea and maybe you don’t, but choosing a topic for your non-fiction book should be easy. Start with what you know, love, or care about, but always, always, always search for the unique angle. Simply rehashing the same old, same old won’t cut it.

Talking about a new angle–how many diet books were in the market prior to Dr. Atkins entered in 1989 with his high-protein, low carbohydrate diet? More than you can name, I’m sure, from the infamous Grapefruit Diet to the Scarsdale Diet. Every new diet idea has to have a book, or two, or three. Diet books were already a huge market. The field was crowded, but his new angle was a breakthrough and changed the diet scene forever.

Shortly after it became a smash hit, other protein diet books appeared. He spawned a whole new way too look at diets and this motivated other authors. There were books created to support his point of view, other books to tweak it, and others to challenge it. Then along came the cookbooks. High-protein, low carbohydrate recipes were all the fad. I don’t know the total number of books created directly as a result of the Atkins diet, but I daresay it is in the thousands. Do you think the publishers said, “Oh no, not another diet book?” Or did they rush it to print to take advantage of the buzz?

  • What do you know that is a little different from what has been published before? Bookstores and libraries are chock full of self-improvement books. How many ways are there to find your inner power, create success, sleep better, be happier, stop smoking, find God, and develop irresistible powers of attraction? Yet, with all of this information truckloads of new self-help books hit the market every year. Each of them say essentially the same things, but they all seek  a different hook. Will new angles ever be depleted? It doesn’t seem so, but if you have one, don’t sit on it or someone else will come up with it too while you are languishing in the starting gate. A good idea is too valuable to waste.
  • Is there new information you can bring to the table that may have been overlooked? Research and discoveries are continuing in every field of endeavor. If you are keeping up with the latest information, your book by hitting the market first could propel you into the spotlight.
  • Has technology changed the landscape? How? There are few subjects that don’t benefit from improved technologies. Even in fields like restoration of old paintings technology is used to discover what is unseen to the naked eye but vital to the correct restoration.
  • What do you expect will happen to your topic in the future? Project yourself into the future, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or more. What does the future hold for your field of interest?
  • How has your topic altered, improved, or ruined your life? Get personal. Readers are bored with dry reading; they want to know what your experience has been, even if it turned out badly. Especially if it turned out badly. In fact, there is a reason news shows lead with murder and mayhem. It’s sick, but humans are very curious about disasters. Even if your experience is and was very positive, you’ll want to look for some contrast to create drama.
  • Has new information been unearthed that alters previously held beliefs? People are forever studying the history of this, that, or the other. You can rest assured that someone will come across with an old memo, forgotten manuscript, or lost photos. Perhaps those discoveries will contradict previous truths.
  • Do you have doubts about the subject and can you prove them? Every subject needs balance. If all of the books written glorify your subject, you may think about being the devil’s advocate. Look for evidence of the dark side.
  • What are your ten rules? Huh? You don’t think you have rules, ah but you do. Things that we enjoy doing required us to learn how to do it. Think back to when you started and list the steps you had to learn to master it. Write them down one through ten and dedicate a chapter to each of those steps.
  • How does your subject fare in other countries? Would utilizing practices from a foreign country improve performance here? Have the practitioners of your subject in distant lands created ways and means that are more effective? Would your readers be served well by knowing what those differences are?
  • What have you always wanted to say but kept to yourself because certain areas are sacred cows? Fear of rejection or expulsion has killed many a good book. If you have a burning desire to tell something that will stir up trouble, it takes real courage. Do you have enough guts to be the one? Just think of all of the people who would benefit from the truth you are keeping to yourself.
  • Who will read your book, a well-informed practitioner, or a novice? Consider the books currently in the market on your subject. If the majority of them are written for the beginner, perhaps the experts would benefit from your expertise. Be sure you don’t write over the heads of the newbie’s or talk down to the pros. Write for the audience you choose. The purpose of a non-fiction book should be to dispense information, not dazzle the readers with your prose. Save that for creative writing classes or novels.
  • Can you latch on and ride with a trend? Like the Atkins example, is there something hot in the marketplace right now? Maybe it doesn’t even have to directly relate. If something in your title, or cover art indicates a relationship you could benefit from the trend. When President Obama was elected there was a fervor that rivaled religion. Suppose you had a book of stories and folk sayings from his birthplace Hawaii, couldn’t you call it something like Folk Stories from President Obama’s Birthplace? I know it is a stretch, but crazier things have been done like the Obama Chia Pet.

Note: Be sure to check out the Author’s Platform. Writing your book is only part of the job and may be the easiest part. Finding readers willing to buy your book is difficult especially if you don’t know the ropes. The very reasonably priced Author Platform prepares you to negotiate through blogs, social networking, Amazon, virtual book parties, etc. I have used it and recommend it heartily. –Bill Ruesch

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.

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