Bridging the Gap
Why do some publishers choose to produce in the U.S., while others prefer to set up shop outside of our borders?
For Playboy, it was a matter of appropriateness, according to Walker. "You can't keep up a really timely, committed editorial product that is live, vibrant and powerful if it's not being created specifically for the readers within a country," he points out. "For a magazine to actually work in a marketplace, it has to speak to the readers in that marketplace. … To do that, it has to be created in the country."
"Translation can be difficult," El Hospital's Loomis agrees, pointing out that translators might provide copy that is actually "provincial or unrecognizable in another country."
Deciding to establish production facilities in other countries was also a matter of timing, Walker notes. For Playboy, it didn't seem feasible to produce a foreign edition within the boundaries of the United States and still get issues to foreign newsstands in a timely fashion.
For business-to-business publishers, international distribution may be a little less chaotic than it is for magazine publishers. The reason stems from the amount of shipping resources available.
Woods Lithographics, Phoenix, produces high-quality sheetfed materials—brochures, hardware and software manuals and corporate communications products—for international businesses.
The company's clients are spread throughout the globe, according to Randy Shaw, shipping manager. All of the products are produced at the company's Phoenix site and shipped to companies abroad using a variety of methods.
"We use a myriad of different transportation resources and it depends on when the clients want it," Shaw explains. "The first question I ask is whether they need it right away. It also depends on the weight of what we're shipping."
International shipping, he contends, is complicated. "When you're going to a foreign country, there are people waiting there to check the goods," he reports. "Everybody seems to scrutinize freight very well, but in some countries, it's more difficult to get things through than others."