Printing/Production Growing By Its Own Rules
July 1, 2000

A move from pure play to cataloger—that’s the trend in the online retail industry. After years online, pure-play retailers are discovering that catalogs are cost-efficient customer-acquisition and branding tools. But despite moving into the mail order world, pure plays do not consider themselves catalogers. Lisa Sharples, co-founder of and the force behind that company’s recent print catalog drops, is straightforward about its catalog’s purpose—driving customers to the Web site. Unlike many entrepreneurs who launch catalogs as extensions of their avocations, she didn’t start out of enthusiasm for gardening. Sharples and her partners wanted to start an online business in a

The Power of Three
October 1, 1999

Three, as the Schoolhouse Rock song goes, is a magic number. But there’s no such thing as magic when it comes to cutting postage costs. You can save money in only one of three ways: cut your catalog’s weight; qualify for automation and presort discounts; and get your mailing as close to its final destination as possible. Slimming Down You can reduce the weight of your catalog by attacking two dimensions: paper and size, says Dave Riebe, vice president of distribution at Quad/Graphics, a printing company in Pewaukee, WI. For the most dramatic impact, streamline the trim size of your catalog. Depending on your

Traveling Through Digital Waters
August 1, 1999

JOHN MCMANUS is celebrating a birthday. Ten years ago this October, he and his wife Gloria released their first catalog: a 32-page, black-and-white collection of products to make travel easier. They called their creation Magellan’s. Today, McManus sounds like a proud father when he notes, “We’ve been on the Inc. magazine list of the 500 fastest-growing companies three years in a row (1995-1997). That’s a figure that we don’t mind sharing.” The cataloger’s annual revenue is up to $25 million and print runs vary between two and three million catalogs, with mailings scheduled four to five times a year. “We’ll be doing 100 pages,

Color Management for Global Output
August 1, 1999

For makeup and jewelry catalogers, color management is undeniably a major production concern. Such is the case for Avon Products, New York, which recently turned to an innovative solution for the production of its internationally distributed print brochures. The International Challenge Avon has a presence in more than 135 countries, with printing services contracted in 32 nations, making consistent, across-the-globe color control a tricky endeavor for a core group of people, including the art-direction staff and Bob Jordan, Avon’s quality-control manager. Betsy Wordsman, Avon’s senior manager of global print production, explains, “For economic reasons—and the substantial growth of our company—Avon wanted to create

Building Digital Bridges
May 1, 1999

Fingerhut’s catalog production burdens are eased by developing mutually beneficial partnerships With print runs between 10,000 and 5 million—and product images that number in the hundreds of thousands—it is no surprise that Fingerhut, a Minnetonka, MN-based general-merchandising cataloger, required additional production support. Two years ago, while analyzing its prepress needs, Fingerhut looked to Quad/Graphics’ Digital Imaging Division, Minneapolis, to support Fingerhut’s own prepress division and digital photography studio, both housed in nearby Minnesota locales. Initially, what made Quad’s digital division appealing was Fingerhut’s long-established relationship with Quad/Graphics, one of the cataloger’s print partners. Fingerhut’s prepress volume caused the catalog publisher to analyze how integral

Controlling Digital Interests
May 1, 1999

For nearly 65 years, the Miles Kimball Company has provided consumers with gifts, gadgets and other novelty items designed to make everyday life a little easier and more enjoyable. Now, thanks to digital technology and workflow solutions implemented over the last two years, the Oshkosh, WI-based cataloger has eased its own daily burden by streamlining its production operations. Prepress services, such as scanning and color separations—which had been outsourced previously—are now performed in house. In addition, Miles Kimball has established its own on-site digital photography studio. Certainly each of these tasks required a great deal of effort; however, for the cataloger, the technology

Digital Photography Takes Off
February 1, 1999

Digital photography is maturing into its own image capture specialty. but novice beware: to succeed, you need to do more than just point and shoot. Photographs are the principal marketing tools of the retail catalog. The better the quality of the photograph—that is, its ability to express adequately the details and essence of the item—the higher the chance of customer satisfaction. Achieving enticing product shots traditionally requires a multi-step process, which includes: initial, instant film shots to test composition and lighting; the actual photo shoot; sending the film for development; waiting; checking the transparencies for accuracy; then re-shooting or digitally manipulating anything that comes