Bridging the Gap
"Unlike the United States, where it seems that everyone and anyone has a list to sell, in many countries those are not so easy to come by," Loomis observes. "We have a representative in Latin America who works trade shows for us, and we've built our database from the contacts that she's made. We also do a lot of direct, personal contact with leaders of professional organizations."
Playboy's situation differs from El Hospital in that each of its 17 foreign editions—created in native languages—are produced by independent publishers.
David Walker, editorial director of international publishing for Playboy Enterprises, explains the arrangement: "Part of the licensing agreement with foreign publishing houses entitles them to access anything that U.S. Playboy owns, which includes a huge portion of our images, pictorials and quite a bit of the text."
How does digital data sharing happen? Walker explains that staffs in other countries order images and text—provided on optical disks, CD-ROMs or in film version—from the U.S. offices.
Playboy's file-sharing arrangement brings up a question about efficiency. Wouldn't it be easier to allow foreign publishers to access a central server to download images and text directly?
Walker says that the company has considered the option, but technology is something that is not universal. "We're currently in more than 16 countries, and they're all in different states of technological capability," he reports. "We've found that they aren't ready to receive files like that and we aren't ready to propose providing camera-ready images or color-corrected images over electronic lines. Fortunately, the way we do it now seems to work."
Market conditions and economic stability have a lot to do with whether or not publishers should choose to work with foreign vendors, Loomis contends.
"For El Hospital, we decided that we were more comfortable with keeping (production) local, because we needed that kind of control—especially on the prepress end," he says.