As an author, inspiration can come from all things. It could be the line in a song on the radio, a snippet of conversation on the bus, a dream at night but one of the most important sources of inspiration are other authors.
There are also some other roles in the literary world that fascinate me and so I am delving into the world of publishing for this month’s segment with Zoe Buck of The Print Management Studio. I met Zoe while we played rugby together for the Pontyclun Falcons and it was wonderful news when I discovered that she’s part of the literary universe too!
So, chapter one, how did you get into the printing business and what drew you to it?
If I’m honest it was completely by accident, I was offered a job by a family friend and at that time wasn’t even aware of the ‘print industry’. There was certainly a lot to learn but the further I was embroiled in it the more I loved it.
“The Print Management company have one directive, providing you the very best service possible at all times whilst delivering top quality print at the prices you want.”
How did that experience in the industry garner your love for print?
A number of things really, but mainly seeing how digital images could be brought to life by using different types of paper stocks and different print finishes, drawing you in and making you touch the page, engaging your senses other than just sight. As well as touch and sight there is also a smell to freshly printed brochure or catalogue and even book, which as a print nut I adore.
What made you decide to launch The Print Management Studios?
Having been in print management my whole career, it was a natural progression for me but also a dream. I wanted to be able to provide the very best customer service to people using my long-standing knowledge and expertise. Meeting and engaging with people is what I love to do and when you’re doing it with the pride of it being your own company it’s a whole new level of satisfaction.
How has running your own business differed from working for a company?
Being the boss of my own time is wonderful. But mostly being able to make creative decisions and coming up with new ways of how to do things and innovate the way we market ourselves is great fun. Don’t get me wrong it’s a lot of hard work too but it certainly helps when you love what you do.
Having worked with a very large publisher for some years we’re very used to working with authors to put their title across visually and creatively.
Can you take us through the printing process from the author’s query to the finished product?
Depending at what stage the author’s query is, we can quite simply give them a price for the printing of the book or we can also offer design services to take the authors transcript design the covers and also page set it. Having worked with a very large publisher for some years we’re very used to working with authors to put their title across visually and creatively. Depending on the size and finish of the book we would assess each book individually and with our knowledge of the market get prices from the best suited printers to that job in order to provide the most cost effective price. For example if someone wanted to publish a small run, of a short paginated soft back book, we wouldn’t get prices from printers who are set up to produce longs runs, of high paginated hard back books. Not everyone is set up to produce every type of book.
If we are deemed worthy of winning the work, all files would be supplied to us for ‘ripping’ which is a process before the files are plated to create a bitmap of the image for printing. We would supply an onscreen proof of all covers and text for 1 last check before printing and also to iron out any issues there may have been in the files. Once this has all been approved for print by the author we will then imposition the pages in the order required for how the job is being finished whether it was saddle stitched, perfect bound or thread sewn and also depending on how large the sections were when the job was being folded ready for collation. Once this is done the job is plated and we will then get the book on press, if the author would like to press pass the job we are always happy to accommodate this. Once all sheets are printed, depending on the material it will have time to dry and then be folded in sections ready for collating and binding. Once bound, they will be boxed suitably and delivered.
We will always deliver beyond the call of duty, we don’t stop answering the phone at 5pm and close the door, we are here for out customers 24/7.
You say that you’re fresh thinking, what makes you different to the other companies out there?
We like to engage our clients in the process, keep them updated of what stage their job is at, so they are always aware of what is going on. Also we don’t choose our suppliers based on price but on expertise. We will always deliver beyond the call of duty, we don’t stop answering the phone at 5pm and close the door, we are here for out customers 24/7.
You talk on your website about your love of print, can you tell us a little about just what makes the process so satisfying for you?
My favourite bit of it all is it being delivered to the client and them loving it. We recently produced a 5ft Advent Calendar for the BBC and we were inundated with pictures that people had sent in who were just in awe of it. Another time was when we produced a look book for DeBeer Diamonds, the finished product was just beautiful and seeing peoples faces when they looked through the pages and seeing the diamonds jumping off the page was well worth the 24 hour press pass with no sleep to get it spot on.
A close second would be the actual lithographic process itself, even with the precise science behind it, its still pretty magical.
What is the most exciting job that you’ve taken on (so far?)
Hmmm now that’s tough, I’ve produced some pretty exciting ones in my time, two of them I have previously mentioned but I would have to say THE most exciting one was the bi-annual magazine for Liberty of London. We produced it on some very different types of material (and very expensive) with some lovely finishing and they also had a discount voucher in it which we put through various tests to make sure our creation would actually work and it just looked spectacular. That was definitely the most exciting, as it was so out of the norm.
Any avid reader cannot deny themselves the feel of a real book in their hands, it gives you a connection to what you are reading and engaging in rather than just staring at a screen full of words.
How do you think the print industry is evolving? Do you buy into the theory that eBooks and other products will be purely digital or do you think that the print industry can come up with other ways to grow and thrive?
There is no denying that eBooks have made a dent in the market but the print industry is evolving constantly, making publishers want to print their words rather than create them digitally. With new papers, finishes, production processes being more accessible to ALL authors not just ones printing enough to make it worth a publishers while. I think that’s very important that publishing is easily accessible for budding authors. Any avid reader cannot deny themselves the feel of a real book in their hands, it gives you a connection to what you are reading and engaging in rather than just staring at a screen full of words.
Quick fire round
- What is your strength as a printer? Extensive knowledge and passion for all things print.
- What is your ‘typical’ working day? Seeing clients, speaking with suppliers on live work, providing quotes to customers, and the one everyone hates – chasing money!
- When customers pick up your products, what would you most like to hear them say? I LOVE IT!
- What would you least like them to do/say? Reprint it!!!!
- Who is your literary/print idol? why? Richard Moross, CEO of moo.com. He created a brand of high quality, innovative and slightly pricy stationery items in a time where people were being driven to online printers for cheap and nasty products and he made a superb success of it. He saw that people valued quality and would pay for it if it was worth it and his products are definitely worth it.
- If you could have printed any book, which one would it have been? The dummies guide to print – It would have been very short and said – Use The Print Management Studio for all your printing needs!
- What is your most popular product? Eeek that’s too hard, there are so many variations of things and we do so many!
- Favourite word? Moiré – it can cause some issues when printing certain patterns!
- Least favourite word? No.
- What would you most like to develop in your printing business? I would like to develop the company in many different ways, create a publishing arm of lifestyle magazines that donate a portion of their profits to charity, create an online card company and also expand into buying our own printing press (I must be mad!)
Thank you, Zoe, for letting me grill you! I have to say it was far less painful than our rugby drills! You can find Zoe’s empire here: