BookTech Expo Registration Jumps More Than 30%
Celebrating its ninth year, the 2005 BookTech Conference and Expo, held at the Hilton New York, March 7-9, opened on a spring-like day that might have seen people heading to the Bronx for the Yankees home opener were it actually spring. Although the balmy 60-degree day didn't last, the cold winds and snow that swept through Manhattan on the conference's second day weren't enough to keep book publishers from coming to see the latest offerings in production and workflow tools. Registration to the Expo was up more than 30 percent over 2004.
A New Setup
The Conference and Expo started with a new twist. Day one, which in past years featured the keynote and the opening of the exhibit floor, was set-up day for expo exhibitors this year, while conference attendees were treated to a morning publishers' workshop on negotiating print contracts, and an afternoon track conducted by IDEAlliance, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to advancing user-driven, cross-industry technology solutions for the publishing industry, that focused on how standards and best practices simplify an end-to-end supply chain in the publishing environment.
"We're happy to have a partnership with IDEAlliance to develop content on standards and best practices in the industry," says Mark Hertzog, publisher of BookTech Magazine. "[IDEAlliance] discussed standards in the industry that were of interest to magazine publishers, books publishers and ad agencies."
The doors to the expo floor opened on Tuesday morning, where 118 exhibitors displayed a panoply of tools and resources ranging from color-management solutions, cover-board materials and book-publishing components. Printers were also on hand, offering full-service programs; paper companies offered leading-edge paper products; and others offered a range of publishing-related solutions. Interest piqued that first morning and held steady through the rest of the show.
"We're having a great show," said Joe Dunham, an account manager with LBS, a Des Moines, Iowa-based manufacturer and converter of binding materials. "We had more visitors in the first four hours [of the show] than we had all of last year."
Every Picture Tells a Story
Prior to the opening of the exhibit floor, William L. Allen of the National Geographic Society, addressed hundreds of attendees with the conference's keynote in the Hilton's Sutton Parlor. Allen led off with the statement, "Print is increasing as the dominant face in the industry," adding that this is what he'd like to believe.
Allen spent 38 years with National Geographic magazine, the past 10 as editor-in-chief. He explained that there are many challenges that keep the publishing industry from being the "dominant face"—one of those challenges is that other forms of media have cut into the demand for magazines and books, creating a society that is reading much less than it did even 10 years ago.
National Geographic is a magazine that tells stories through the use of beautiful imagery as well as concise, well-written editorial. So the primary focus of Allen's keynote was on photography, the major component that causes readers to pick up the magazine at newsstands or subscribe to the publication in the first place, he said. He explained the lengths the magazine's photojournalists go through to produce the images seen every month in the publication. From staring down a charging elephant in a remote part of Africa to staying a few steps ahead of a swirling tornado in the Midwest, National Geographic photographers often risk their lives to meet the demanding requirements the magazine stipulates.
"We could publish a very good magazine with the photographs we don't use," said Allen.
Surprising to some attendees was the fact that only about 20 percent of the magazine's photographs are digital, but Allen explained why: The magazine has yet to figure out the logistics of storing as many as 40,000 2MB image files in a content management system at a reasonable cost.
Allen said, however, that National Geographic expects its use of digital images to increase to 30 percent or even 35 percent by the end of this year. With the publication of the March issue, Allen stepped down as the magazine's editor in chief, and will devote his "free time" to other projects such as a vacation—something he hasn't taken in 10 years—and to writing a book.
New Technologies Abound
Among some of the new technologies showcased at the show was a technology for printing on plastic substrates. Visual Systems Inc. (VSI), a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of book components, developed BaseOne, a print technology that applies ink to the underside of a clear plastic substrate, eliminating the two-step process of printing on paper and then adding a laminate.
"We've created a process that will change the way book covers and jackets are produced," said Jeff Hengsbach, vice president of VSI. "BaseOne not only eliminates a step, but it also offers more durable book covers with more design options. Velázquez press, a reference publisher in El Monte, Calif., adopted the technology for a Spanish-English dictionary the company publishes.
"BaseOne really fits our need for our project," says Arthur Chou, publisher of Velázquez Press. The reference book with a plastic cover is expected to hit bookshelves this spring.
Among the many workflow solutions on display, Savvis Communications launched Wam!Net Content Submission Portal, a service that offers companies a simple and secure way of receiving editorial content and photographic images through a single, customer-branded, Web-based submission portal. Publishers that receive their data through multiple sources, such as CD, e-mail and file transfer protocol, can streamline the process and receive that same information from one source through a portal customized for each publisher's need.
"Publishers spend too much time gathering digital images from multiple sources, which [then] need to be sorted and organized," said Melissa Fox, director of marketing with Savvis Communications. "Typically this content has no information or metadata associated with it, making the review process even more challenging. With our Content Submission Portal, digital images are submitted with identifying metadata to one location where [the images are] reviewed, organized and distributed."
The online, subscription-based service integrates into existing networks, Fox said, eliminating the need for additional hardware or software requirements.
With the final hours of the show on Wednesday, March 9, plans for BookTech Conference sessions and Expo exhibitions are already under way for next year's event, scheduled for the Hilton New York, March 20-22, 2006. For information on the 2006 BookTech Conference and Expo, visit www.BookTechExpo.com.