Smart, scalable and responsible print production [Ken Jones interview]

creative cloud

Ken Jones was Technical Production Manager for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for several years and has since advised publishers such as Parragon, Nosy Crow, Walker Books and Quarto on how to get the best from their print workflow.

Ken will be chairing and speaking at the first BookMachine Unplugged event of 2018 – The new rules for print production: smart, scalable and responsible. Here Norah Myers interviews him about his work.

1. What are some current trends you’ve noticed in production that are different from what existed just a few years ago?

Recent advances in design software and printing technology have meant that final production files often come directly from the designer’s desktop nowadays. Taking the traditional repro house out of a publisher’s wokflow has many benefits in reducing time and costs but it does mean that files should be created in smarter and more consistent ways.

2. How do you see book production continuing to evolve in the next few years?

I think the web will play an increasing large part in how we all work. Some production departments are still using systems that came from the last century. Creaky and insecure FTP sites and vast email chains are not an efficient way to work and communicate.

I expect it will be commonplace for planning, editing, commenting & approval, file management, supply and archival to all be done more much easily online.

3. What was a trend or development you didn’t see coming and how did you adapt?

Working in RGB for print would be unthinkable just a few years ago but nowadays it is the recommended way of working. By implementing some simple colour settings and making a few workflow changes the conversion to CMYK for print takes place automatically when outputting to PDF. This saves time, file size and gives us more options as well as overall better quality.

4. Please tell us about an app or software you’ve used that makes production easier or more manageable.

You mean, aside from my own company’s excellent software tools GreenLight and MasterPlan of course?!… Digital Asset Management systems like Censhare and Biblio are ultimately what large publishers use but on a smaller and more immediate level better communication tools and cloud sharing can make a difference. I use Dropbox, Slack and Skype a lot and I wrote about some more of my favourites for BookMachine here.

5. How do you decide on which software to build and create based on need, ease of access, and relevancy?

As a small software company director I tend to follow my instincts when deciding where to put our development effort. I am interested in helping illustrated publishers in general but in particular the people who are actually creating the pages. The InDesign users are the ones generating the content that fuel the rest of the publishing business and I always aim my tools there whilst trying to convince the managers of the need for training and tools to help them do their jobs creatively but also efficiently and ready for production.

Ken will be speaking at BookMachine Unplugged: Talking Production on Wednesday 21st February 2018. Grab a ticket here.

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