The Story of E
The Internet's entrance from stage right produces a rewrite of the
commercial printing plot line.
Once upon a time, the process of commercial print buying was simple. A print buyer called his or her vendor CSR, requested a bid on a job, worked up the project specs and sent creative to a prepress shop for processing and film output. The film was couriered to the printer, which ran the plates for the press, the plates were loaded, the job printed, and all lived happily ever after. Throughout the story, phone calls were made, proofs were exchanged, status reports floated across the fax lines. Although at times hectic, it was a peaceful place.
These days, the land of commercial printing has been invaded by The Big Bad Internet. But is the Internet and all its powers so big and bad, after all? Could the Internet's capabilities actually enhance industry culture? There's a great deal of speculation floating about regarding the "dot-com" characters entering the plot. Which services are best suited for the print buyer? Which are attractive to commercial printers? Can the market bear the growing number of players? Which dot-com organizations will come out on top in the end?
E-procurement and e-production solutions are plentiful. While it may seem that each is treading on the others' territory, many of the services available are quite unique: in their marketing strategies, in their services, in their personnel and in the solutions they deliver.
Some are auction-based sites, such as 58k.com, Collabria, PrintMarket.com and Printbid. com. These services enable buyers to spec print projects, submit for quotes and select the vendor with which he or she prefers to do business. The bidders—the commercial printers—vary by geography, core competencies and equipment capabilities. For the print buyer who is open-minded about partnering with new—or broader-based—vendors, these sites appear to be attractive.