Saturday, May 14, 2005


(Note: A burqa is a garment worn by women which covers the entire body and face. The eyes are covered with a 'net curtain' allowing the woman to see but preventing other people from seeing her eyes.)

I received the following unsolicited e-mail. This is word-for-word, the entire communication, with only the email address taken out:

---- sir, we have a prepress unit in Bangalore, India. We are equipped with all the necessary Prepress equipments for a better and fast service.

We are well experienced in the field and we exclusively do the Book works.

So, If you are interested in the Deal please contact on the email id - expecting a mail from you at the earliest.

thanking you ---

OK, this is a pretty crude sales pitch by someone who does not know what they are doing.... but the handwriting is on the wall. If you are a book printer or you are a book designer, you have to start thinking about making some changes to your business.

Outsourcing (or offshoring) is going to happen, like it or not.

No, I'm not going to go into a long diatribe about whether it's good or not good. You know, I know, and everyone's dog knows that the "global economy" is going to have an impact on the publishing industry.... and any industry where services can be comomiditized.

While I'll be the first to say that some of the printer reps and book designers that I've met would look BETTER in a burqa, the issue is that "wearing one" won't solve the problem There is no way anyone in the USA (or Canada) can compete on price with anyone from Berkabod or Turbistan.

And the bottom line is the bottom line. If the work is good and the quality is comparable, you, and I, and every other publisher on a budget is going to start using off-shore printing and design services.

It is far better for the vendors in our industry to wake up now and start working to adapt than to find themselves in the position like thousands and thousands of high-tech engineers who didn't see this coming.

When I did JAYA123 I considered using some programmers from Turbistan for $7.00 an hour rather than some from the USA for $70. I didn't do it, but only because I didn't have to. Other tech firms do... in order to create a product that will compete on the world market.

Do I think that book designers and programmers and medical x-ray readers in the USA will be able to "finish" their careers doing what they like? No. Anything that can be done in cheaper labor markets WILL BE. Accept it and get over it. (No, I don't like it anymore than you do... and I feel some anger.... but I've read history and the entire history of the world can be interpreted as a search for cheaper raw materials, cheaper energy, and cheaper labor.... and all your ranting and raving won't change that.)

The answer is to adapt. If I were a book designer I'd start making some "deals" with designers in Burqabod to outsouce work to. No publisher wants to work directly with a anyone from Turbistan.... but they would be happy to work with an American or Canadian designer who can get the job done for a good price... at least competitive with those coming from the the third-world.

I don't have all the answers, but I can see the storm on the horizon. The very cream of the crop of any profession will still do OK, but anyone in the "second tier" will not.... as long as a burqa-clad designer can do for $5 what a DKNY-clad designer does for $50.

If I were a book printer I'd see about moving a plant off-shore to Turbistan and making some arrangements with shipping brokers for transportation.

Short of a world-war, there is no way to stop "globalization" from happening. Be angry if you want, but also be realistic and study your history.

What it comes down to is that craftsmanship and skill-sets have been learned by people willing to do them cheaper than we will or can. So "we" have to find something else that gives value to the economy and which will put bread on our table. Learn the meaning of the words "invention" and "creativity."

I don't know what the answers are. Time will tell and there is going to be some difficult dislocations for a lot of people. If you think you are going to be one of them, I'd go out Berka-shopping now and avoid the rush later on. Better yet, maybe you can invent a better burqa... maybe one of Gore-tex, or one with built-in sun-shade?

Alan N. Canton, President Adams-Blake Company, Inc --- Adams-Blake Company provides the JAYA123 service to small businesses of all types. JAYA is an order-entry, billing, invoicing, inventory,royalty, and financial system used on the web ....nothing to download or install... and it cost all of $14.95 a month. "It's cool as a moose." Try the free demo at at: ---