In some cases, it's not a matter of cost or technology investment, but rather, time. "It all comes down to [production and manufacturing personnel at] the magazines being so busy with their jobs right now, that continuing education is low on their list of priorities," says consultant Manes Goodwin. "People simply don't know where to begin."
Mixed messages from publishers, printers and prepress suppliers compound the problem, perpetuating the use of non-standard file formats. "We still have some printers who are using CT/LW, and prepress suppliers still preparing rasterized files, as opposed to vector-based PDF/X-1a," Manes Goodwin says.
A recent study published by the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation confirms the extent of the problem. An average of 53% of printers surveyed are submitting documents as native QuarkXPress files. Trailing Quark files were Adobe's PDF, at 23%.
PUBLISHERS CRACK THE WHIP
Publishers are well-positioned to rapidly change this equation to favor accredited file formats. "Publications that work with a greater percentage of advertising agencies are in a better position to mandate accredited standards," says Manes Goodwin. "Even magazines that have fractional ads, or are working with 'mom-and-pop' advertisers, can change their specifications and have advertisers in compliance within two to three issues."
It can take little more than a phone call. "I have had situations where I called each advertiser, and talked them through the reasons why PDF/X-1a is needed, and how best to produce the file," she says. "The time investment will pay off."
Dwell magazine, in San Francisco, is taking an aggressive approach to digital ad submission. Until recently, the magazine accepted everything from film to TIFF/IT-P1 to native-application Quark files. That left the publication to take responsibility for repairing poorly prepared ads.
"I don't want to be a prepress supplier," says Suzanne Welker Jurgens, Dwell's production director. She overhauled ad production to reduce costs and cycle time, and stabilize the workflow. Prepress service Applied Graphics Technologies (AGT), in Foster City, Calif., and printer Quebecor World Inc., in St. Cloud, Minn., worked with Dwell to develop a CTP workflow that relies on PDF files.