Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Encyclopedia Britannica Ceases Print Edition After 244 Years

Friday, March 16th, 2012

The Encyclopedia Britannica made headlines earlier this week when it announced that it was “stopping the presses” and ceasing publication of its print edition after a strong 244-year run. From a business standpoint, one can understand why this inevitably needed to happen: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. has sold just 8,000 sets of its latest 32-volume, $1,395 print edition released in 2010, with another 4,000 sitting in a warehouse waiting to be ordered. When the last set is shipped, that will be that. Sales of Britannica’s print edition peaked around 1990 at 120,000 sets, with significant decreases in volume through the 1990’s and into the 2000’s. For the company itself, the print edition represented only a small portion of revenue, with the majority derived from selling curriculum products to schools, as well as online subscriptions and other digital versions of its content.

In my view, this move is not revolutionary, but it is certainly evolutionary. It serves as a reflection point on multiple fronts, including the transformation occurring in the publishing industry and in education; it also highlights the true impact that the Internet and digital media continue to have in the way we learn, work, and play.

Is the sunsetting of Encyclopedia Britannica’s printed set just another death knell for the demise of the printed book or other printed publications? No… BUT… it does serve as a reminder that it is imperative for publishers to have a digital media strategy. Luckily for Encyclopedia Britannica, the company has been working to publish its vast repository of the world’s facts and figures to digital channels since the 1980’s. It released the first CD-ROM (remember those?) of Britannica in 1989. It put its collection online in 1994, which was seven years before Jimmy Wales launched Wikipedia in 2001.

Encyclopedia Britannica was actually ahead of its time in its digital publishing efforts, and ensured that it built up a strong digital business before deciding to end its print edition. The company reports having 500,000 subscribers to its $69.95/year premium Britannica Online service, which users can access via the Web and also through its iPad application. Think about that: what was once a 129-pound set of books now fits on a device of just over 1 pound… and it’s searchable, browsable, interactive, and constantly updated.

Some are of the opinion that more searchable and hyperlinked content, while efficient, takes away some of the serendipitous nature of perusing through a printed encyclopedia or other printed publications. Apparently those people have never gone on a Wikipedia bender, letting the hours melt away while clicking through dozens (or hundreds) of interconnected articles. Of course, there is definitely something about looking through a tome like Encyclopedia Britannica that is hard to replicate in the digital world, but the reality is that in today’s world, efficiency is paramount. Furthermore, I believe that information is power, and limiting that type of high-quality, trusted reference information to the confines of a fixed-length format is, in the end, inhibitive.

Another thing this news made me really reflect on is the impact of technology on education. While print is going to continue to play an important role in education well into the future, digital media can be used in conjunction or even on its own to more effectively help students learn new concepts and expand their knowledge. A lighthouse example of how digital media can be used as an effective teaching tool is Khan Academy, whose mission is “to provide a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.” Now that is revolutionary.

Through short, instructive video lessons often taught by the site’s founder, Sal Khan, students can work their way from the basics of a particular subject all the way through to the most complex applications. While the information is freely available online, the not-for-profit is piloting programs in 23 schools with its math curriculum, where the video lessons are their primary instructor and teachers are used in more of a support role. Students’ progress is tied back to analytics that help pinpoint where they are having problems and in what subject. Sal Khan and his team may have cracked the code for how to effectively use the Web and digital media to enhance learning.

In the 60 Minutes piece on Khan Academy from this past weekend, Sal Khan was asked how he approaches learning about a topic he is going to create a video for. His answer? Textbooks. “If I’m doing something that I haven’t visited for a long time, you know, since high school I’ll go buy five textbooks in it. And I’ll try to read every textbook,” says Khan. He, of course, also uses the Internet. Clearly there is still value in trustworthy, authoritative reference information, and print is a symbol of that trust. Digital media, however, is becoming just as trustworthy, and its use along with other technology can help optimize the learning experience like never before.

What do you think? Are you lamenting the loss of Encyclopedia Britannica’s print edition or is it inconsequential?

Managed Print Services and Print Management Services

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

When do two seemingly similar-sounding service offerings present completely different business models? When comparing Managed Print Services to Print Management Services. These sound the same, and in a certain situations can be used interchangeably, however the industry definitions are quite distinct and different.

Managed Print Services (aka; MPS), Managed Document Services, Enterprise Printing Services, or any other variation on this theme refers to the active management of fleets or groups of hardcopy output devices and by extension the digital output, capture and/or dissemination of data and/or images which are a by-product of such technology, all of which should be a strategic component of an organization’s (enterprise) document management strategy.

Of the many goals this service represents, that of cost-effectively controlling how, when and where organizationally necessary enterprise printing is accomplished rises to the top of the heap. This is closely followed by operational efficiency, productivity, storage, retrieval and security.

Depending on the model employed, this can either be a boon or a disaster waiting to happen for an organization with a widely distributed fleet of desktop laser or inkjet printers, faxes, scanners and small-to medium MFPs (or MFDs) where the task at hand is deemed unmanageable.

The premise of MPS is that through an initial discovery phase, an entity, either internal or external to the organization can root out every localized ineffective, underutilized or overutilized print culprit, assess their individual efficiencies or inefficiencies, and implement wholesale positive change in the way the organization manages how they print on an enterprise level. This is accomplished through mandates, decommission and installation of appropriate devices, actively monitoring usage, and in some cases, outsourcing or shifting higher-quantity work to devices or outsourced facilities utilizing appropriate cost and time-effective technology.

That’s the simple explanation and it sounds great in theory, however in practice the promise may not ring so true. Just about every OEM and/or their regional resellers offer one flavor or another of this kind of service. They all tout amazing savings with the ability for the organization to concentrate on their core business activities without having to worry about managing documents. Their profit motive should be seriously considered with a cost-benefit analysis. Quite frankly in some cases it makes sense.

For the organization that does not consider enterprise document management to be strategic to their core mission, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach MPS provides may seem perfect. After all, the provider of this service will always do what’s in the best interest of the organization, right?

This wholesale technology alignment/replacement strategy can even extend to in-house services where “copy” centers are present organizationally or departmentally. An adept MPS provider can be very convincing, again where enterprise document management is not considered mission-critical, with reasons why they should outsource this service.

Quite frankly, this may be true where an organization doesn’t have (or anecdotally doesn’t believe they have) the economy of scale to dedicate staff to research, identify, negotiate and implement the best solution for the best interests of the enterprise, or where little or no fiscal oversight or responsibility is required or deemed to be necessary for this segment of the organization’s business for whatever reason. What a perfect customer to have! On the other hand, a well managed operation will always know where their true, fully budgeted costs are for all facets of their hard-copy output needs, and this extends to knowing what is best printed when, and where.

Depending on the complexity of the enterprise this could be all encompassing enough to include micro-run desktop-applicable printing (both monochrome and color) where local office printers or MFPs are appropriate technologies, to medium-to-large production runs (also either monochrome and/or color) where CRDs (central reproduction departments aka copy centers) are more appropriate for given run lengths, to print runs which have no business being run locally and are outsourced by the individual department or the enterprise to either an in-plant possessing the appropriate technology or to an appropriate outsourced facility.

This is where Print Management Services (which for some reason I’ve never seen the complete acronym used for, so we’ll just call it PM Services) comes in to the picture. Now not only does the enterprise have the opportunity to “control” costs through either internal or external service providers for their enterprise document needs, but they can extend this process, again either internally or externally to encompass all printed material including digital printing, offset printing, wide format, apparel, specialty, novelty, etc.

PM Services, like MPS, can be implemented by an external service provider who purports to have the resources necessary to answer any need within a certain scope of work, or by an internal (in-plant) resource, without the organization necessarily having the ability to produce everything in-house while keeping the faith to serve the organization’s core mission.

In either case the PM Services provided for should be in the best interests of the organization. Not based on the service the provider has available. The question then comes down to how the enterprise decides what is best for their needs. It is only in rare cases that an outsource vendor can provide all of the services most medium-to-large enterprises require, so multiple service providers are the usual order of the day.

The best approach however is to integrate all the document needs of the organization under one roof, even if it means outsourcing some services while retaining others. True MPS on the one hand, which can include printer and MFP fleets, CRDs and print centers, and PM Services which can encompass high-speed digital, conventional sheet-fed and web offset, and all of the other print-mediums out there, in a perfect world should be centrally controlled from a cost-and-operational efficiency procurement standpoint with capable internal enterprise-level oversight and expertise in place.

It is only then that the organization, whether we’re talking about you specifically, or your customer, can effectively manage (or have you help manage with integrity and trust) what arguably should be considered a strategic, core, mission-critical business activity.

Yurchak – Taking Care of “Book Business”

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Yurchak Printing, Inc. was founded in 1998 in the heart of Amish country (Landisville, Pennsylvania). Its goal was to offer high-quality, short-run digital book manufacturing services to the publishing industry, manufacturing and service companies, professional associations, government agencies, and colleges and universities. The company sought to provide a service portfolio that managed the document lifecycle and extended the value of publications.

Yurchak Printing’s service offerings were created to fulfill a need brought about by the digital age. By creating innovative solutions, Founder and CEO John Yurchak, Jr. has built an organization that is a leader in digital short-run book manufacturing. The company specializes in solutions for the production of directories, periodicals, journals, reference books, fine edition books, illustrated books, bibles, children’s books, bound galleys, and university press books. Yurchak Printing deals with run lengths from 1 to 1,500.

It Starts with a Vision

With over 40 years of observing the marketplace, John Yurchak had great intuition about market trends. He notes, “beginning in the mid-1980s, I saw that print runs were getting shorter and shorter. As volumes got smaller, the equipment I used – along with the associated plates, negatives, presses, and high labor and finishing costs – got to be very cumbersome. With the advent of digital printing in the 1990s, I saw a new opportunity to compete with short-run offset work. I saw a new market opening in short-run book publishing.”

Keeping Up with the Changing Market

End-users of hardcopy reference materials include colleges, universities, accounting firms, attorneys, and the medical field. Publishers want to print smaller quantities on demand to eliminate costly storage. There is also intense pressure to keep content up-to-date, requiring continual content modifications and driving shorter runs. According to Yurchak, “Even with all the information available on the Internet, there is a niche market for quantities ranging from 10 to 1,000 that require a short turnaround time. People want loose-leaf, hard-bound, and perfect bound reference materials.”

Lightweight Stocks with Blazing Speed

Yurchak went on to say, “We partnered with Océ for a number of reasons. With our focus on reference materials, printing on lightweight paper has become our specialty. For continuous printing on lightweight paper, Océ was the unquestionable choice.”

A flexible and powerful workflow was key for the quick delivery of a variety of jobs. Océ automated the book production software capabilities, providing Yurchak with a more hands-free, lower-cost approach. This translated into fewer errors, less manual handling, greater service consistency, and more accurate monitoring.

 The best print quality is critical for Yurchak customers. The company uses a variety of Océ devices, including the ColorStream 10000 Flex with Hunkeler Finishing, VarioPrint 6250, and VarioStream 9230 with Hunkeler Finishing. Yurchak explained, “Charts and graphs are important for scientific materials, but math books require clear images for formulas. We need quality without compromise, and Océ has delivered.”

 John Yurchak, Jr. had a tremendous vision when digital print was still in its infancy, but Océ has helped his company move to the next level. He concludes, “Océ hardware and software solutions have helped us create an exceptional business in the highly competitive world of digital publishing.”

Learn more about Yurchak, Printing Inc. by watching the video below!

An Economic View from a Different Perspective

Monday, December 6th, 2010

For this post, I’m offering my own unscientific perspectives based on a unique window I get to peek into through – my experience actively consulting with or for organizations of all sizes and in all sectors of the industry. This includes everyone from pulp and paper mills to paper merchants to printers to print brokers and finally, print buyers.

My travels take me from coast to coast and north to south here in North America working with over 100 clients in 200 locations per year. From ten-employee in-plants to billion dollar corporations, there are common themes that seem from my perspective to permeate every facet of the paper and print-space.

Necessity may be the Mother of invention, but it’s also the Mother of reduction, the Mother of consolidation and ultimately, the Mother of efficiency. The past few years of recessionary behavior has proven to be a Petri dish of sorts that prove this hypothesis.

Common to every nearly enterprise is the realization that certain functions have had to be reduced or eliminated in order to survive. On the M&A level this means economy of scale and centralization of management, marketing, accounting and human resource functions. Within the same organization, lower level elimination of redundant or non-value added positions has become the norm. I’ve walked in the door of many a facility where “ring the bell/buzzer/phone” for front desk service is now in force where before, the duty of the receptionist was just that; to receive.

If there is a front desk person it is frequently a CSR or AR/AP employee whose new workspace happens to be visibly at the front door of the establishment. The same goes with many other positions where value is perceived as being intangible and can therefore be eliminated and delegated internally to the wearers of many hats who are any enterprise’s new survivor class.

The other trend I’ve seen is that along with staff reduction coinciding with the amount of work coming through the door, where say a full 3 shift operation has been forced down to 2, a new and interesting problem has arisen. When the workload is steady, which is a lowered expectation these days, the available labor pool is being tailored to be able to handle the volume, however now there seems to be more of an optimistic trend among print buyers and advertisers.

It’s what I call the “loosening of the purse-strings syndrome.” As the economy and consumer confidence levels elevate slightly, print buyers are a bit more confident and optimistic. Over the past six to twelve months, my clients, generically now have the problem of not having labor available for those spikes in volume when they occur. In a way this is a good problem to have, since they now feel like they have weathered the economic storm and are now emerging as a more efficient enterprise through all their tribulations.

In some markets an interesting phenomenon is taking place. Where similar facilities with similar capabilities and equipment have either survived or failed, there is a glut of skilled labor. In some cases these spikes are handled by employees working for more than one company-  not that this hasn’t always happened to some degree. It just seems that now there are a lot more skilled operators willing and/or able to be engaged on-call. The problem here is that this is usually more of a mature labor pool, so with regard to longevity, an arrangement such as this is not self-sustaining. No one seems to want to be so optimistic as to ramp back up to former levels, so this conundrum will continue for the foreseeable future.

I don’t pretend to be an economist. I’ll leave that job to Dr. Joe. That said, I do ask the same basic questions wherever I go. How’s business? Have you had layoffs or reductions in the past year and if so, by how much? Have things stabilized? Are you bringing staff back on? Are your customers a bit more optimistic? Are you?

Of course the answers vary, but on average they are: tolerable; yes; yes; yes; yes; yes. It is encouraging if anything, that there is a pervasive optimism out there. In my book optimism equals confidence. Confidence equals risk-taking, albeit cautiously, risk-taking equals spending. Spending of course raises the economic tide overall, and a rising tide lifts all boats.

So ultimately in the printing industry, especially in the areas of growth such as digital printing and integrated media, I’d like to believe that because of all this spending on infrastructure, equipment and new labor, i.e. emerging skill sets, are about to take a quantum leap based on the demand for printing in our brave new world. A renaissance if you will.

To move forward and be the cause of change, mills, merchants, printers and brokers must again refocus their marketing efforts on a now more optimistic print-buying public, who will have a bit more money to spend as long as they are convinced of the ROI once they have been educated, again, by their vendors of the benefits of print.

So, in the end, you can talk about GDP, unemployment, print shipments and the calculated risks of either doing or not doing something to change the game all day long. All I’m saying to sum this all up is that anecdotally, we seem to collectively be climbing out of a casualty-ridden hole, a bit wiser, a bit stronger, but non-the-less gun-shy. In many cases the casualties have been necessary. It got rid of some of the low-ballers to hopefully create a more level playing field where the survivors can compete fairly on a level playing field, charge a fair price and continue to continue on now that the ball is rolling again.

What do you think?

Vic Barkin

“I guess we should get a thousand printed”

Monday, September 13th, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. No. It was a bright and windy afternoon in the City of Big Shoulders. I had just landed at O’Hare and was waiting for my hotel shuttle.

The fifty-ish business woman to my left had no secrets. She was engrossed in a discussion on her i-Berrydroidpod oblivious to the world around her and with whom she was sharing her conversation, namely me. Now I’m not a habitual eavesdropper, but this was so blatant I couldn’t help but absorb her end of the dialogue. I’m sure you’ve all been there.

She started out with instructions to her subordinate– edits pertaining to some document: “Move this paragraph here; add the sub-head for Obstetrics there; start a new chapter on page 87; be sure and link the footnotes” & so on. By now it was obvious this had something to do with the medical profession and was some type of publication, to what purpose I could not discern. Then came the kicker—“I guess we should get a thousand printed”, she said matter-of-factly.

At that moment, my old printer instincts kicked in and my ears perked up. Although I muffled the impulse to be a good-printing samaritan and come to her rescue, calculations started rolling through my brain bucket. Let’s see, this publication whatever its purpose is most likely a minimum of one-hundred pages; times one-thousand copies is one-hundred thousand digital 8 ½ x 11 clicks at the very least. A decent job for any short-run facility.

Did she have a use for that many, or was it simply a Pavlovian response to cost-per-piece-effectiveness training she received in an earlier life?

I thought by now the digital printing industry would have finally conditioned all customers to think print-on-demand until the cows came home. It hasn’t penetrated everywhere. This job could have been suited for short-run offset, or toner-based or high-speed ink-jet digital depending on the real, albeit unknown situation. The issue was that it didn’t sound like there was any fleshing-out of the true needs of the project. “I guess we should get a thousand printed”. A nice round number.

At face value It didn’t sound like a situation that warranted a variable data application, but who knows, with the right coaching it could have turned into a marvelous project incorporating a PURL and the opportunity for users to custom-build a piece based on relevance, or to personalize an event-specific version for a particular demographic. It may have even had TransPromo applications (more likely PubPromo), all of which could have saved a tremendous amount in terms of cost and waste.

In one of my past lives many moons ago I played a game with my clients called “let’s look in the closet”. Every print buyer had a closet of one kind or another. Sometimes it was a walk-in, sometimes a warehouse. The point was to discover their printed material graveyards and guide them to more cost and resource-effective digitally-enabled behavior.

The point is that even today, while we busy ourselves with transpromo, social media and cross-disciplinary integration, we tend to forget that there are still basics to be dealt with out there in printbuyerland, and the distressing fact is that the path of least resistance remains alive and well.

As the woman hopped into her shuttle, still stridently chatting about her project without missing a beat as she handed the driver her bags, I couldn’t help but wonder if her printer, in-plant or commercial, would question the wisdom of “I guess we should get a thousand printed”. Would you?

EDSF announces new 2010 Board Of Directors

Monday, March 1st, 2010

EDSF, the international non-profit organization dedicated to the document management and graphic communications industries, announced it’s 2010 Board of Directors. Among EDSF’s leadership roster of highly respected and well-known industry CEOs, presidents and top executives are several new Directors, including: Jon Cannon of FedEx Office; Jennifer Matt; Kathleen McHugh of Presstek; Mark Kilgore of BÖWE BELL + HOWELL; Francis McMahon of HP; Darnell Ghidotti of AlphaGraphics; and Sandra Zoratti of InfoPrint Solutions Company.

Brenda Kai, EDSF’s executive director, said, “With innovative and passionate industry leaders like those on our Board of Directors, EDSF will surely succeed in its mission of enhancing the value of document communication by fostering education and leading-edge research, and building a community of support to benefit document creators, users and the future workforce of our industry. We thank them for their time and valuable contributions.”

EDSF 2010 Board of Directors:

Richard Lowe, president and COO, Franchise Services, Inc.

Executive Vice Chair
Carl Gerhardt, president and CEO, Allegra Network LLC

Fred Rosenzweig, president, EFI

Vice Chair for Education
Sam Yoshida, vice president and general manager, Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Malkon “Mal” Baboyian, president, Production Printing Systems, Océ North America, Inc.

Executive Director
Brenda Kai, executive director, EDSF

Eric Armour, president, Global Business Group, Xerox Corporation
Jon Cannon, senior vice president, Global Operations, FedEx Office
Darnell Ghidotti, vice president business solutions, AlphaGraphics
Trevor Haworth, CEO, CGS Publishing Technologies International GmbH
Jeff Hayes, president, InfoTrends
Mark Kilgore, executive vice president, BÖWE BELL + HOWELL
John Mancini, president, AIIM International
Jennifer Matt
Kathleen McHugh, vice president and chief marketing officer, Presstek
Francis McMahon, director of marketing, U. S. Graphic Arts Business, Imaging and Printing Group, Hewlett-Packard Company
René Müller, president and CEO, GMC Software
Tawnya Starr, president, PrinterPresence
Sandra Zoratti, vice president, Global Solutions Marketing, InfoPrint Solutions Company

“The Future is Bright” Q&A: Dan Adler

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

EDSF volunteer Dan Adler, president and founder of DA Digital, has been a leader in the global digital printing and direct marketing industry for over 20 years. He is an entrepreneur who has built profitable service businesses based on the intersection of digital hardware and laser technology, software (many generations and applications), direct marketing response requirements and the increased use of versioning and personalized communication in all media.

Twenty years ago, he implemented the first PC-based high-speed laser printing production application with variable data. At that time, he designed and created direct mail laser printing campaigns for several real estate giants including Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and ERA. These campaigns became replicable international industry standards. In the late 80s, Adler delivered comprehensive hardware and software testing on next generation digital printing devices for Xerox Corporation.
In 1991, Adlerco-founded Lexinet, a direct mail production company specializing in unique and profitable digital print production utilizing Web ordering and online design. He created one of the first true 4-color variable print direct mail applications. He also implemented advanced web applications supporting digital color printing and continues to push the limits of technology to deliver effective, profitable results.

The “Next You”

Monday, December 14th, 2009

By Brenda Kai, Executive Director, EDSF

We know that everyone is very busy this time of the year and has more than a few things to do. However, we would like you to take just a minute to think about a very important search. . .the search for the “next you.”

Think about that for a few seconds. You are successful, creative and influential, but where will the “next you” come from? That person who will lead the industry you love and work hard to keep the stock price in your 401K up; where are they? At EDSF, we know that the answer lies in young minds, all over the world, that are just beginning their journey to the place you now occupy. They are the ones that will ultimately be your legacy – the “next you.”

But many of them need help to realize their ambitions.

Over the last several weeks, during EDSF’s “The Future Is Bright” Awareness Campaign, you’ve been introduced to several EDSF Board members, met the volunteers that support the scholarship program and The EDSF Report, heard about the new Adopt -A-Scholar and Holiday giving programs, and met many of the wonderful students that received support.

We hope that in becoming more familiar with EDSF that you will want to become involved in making a bright future for these students needing financial assistance. Please remember that EDSF is not a membership-based organization, but relies on generous contributions from corporations and individuals to fund the scholarship programs.

The truth is, it really is all about “you.” The current “you” that provides your generous support to EDSF and the “next you” that needs all of us to help them reach their dream. Every gift, whatever the size, is valuable. Please visit to make a tax deductible donation online.

The Need for Scholarships

Friday, December 11th, 2009

By Brenda Kai, executive director, EDSF

The need for scholarships, especially those that support students hoping to build a career in our industry, has never been greater. A chance to have a college education is perhaps the greatest gift that deserving students receive. However, the costs of a college education today continue to escalate while financial resources decline.

Privately funded Memorial Scholarships can provide many opportunities for students with limited resources, and are an excellent way to perpetually honor co-workers, friends or family members.

With EDSF — the international non-profit organization dedicated to the document management and graphic communications industries — each memorial fund is maintained in a separate investment account and routinely reviewed and managed by the EDSF Scholarship Trustees, who are members of the Board of Directors. Today, EDSF scholarships are making a big difference in the lives of international students studying communications, graphic arts and document management.

EDSF donors may establish the criteria for their scholarship, which will be used in awarding the scholarships. Common criteria includes:

College Degree/Major
Geographic location
University being attended
Community Involvement

In addition to establishing an EDSF Memorial Scholarship, gifts in honor of or in memory of an individual or group may be made to any existing EDSF scholarship fund or to the general fund. As a registered 501(c)3, all donations are tax deductible.

Find out how you can make a difference.

For a listing of EDSF Memorial Scholarships, or for information about establishing or donating to a memorial scholarship fund, please visit the Web site at or contact Brenda Kai at

EDSF Scholar of the Day
Alexandra Hartman, Clemson University
EDSF Board of Directors Scholarship 2009
EDSF Board of Directors Scholarship 2008

“This scholarship helps me remain a student as every year it gets harder to pay the tuition. Thank you so much for allowing me to continue my education.”

EDSF “The Future is Bright” Q&A: Andy & Julie Plata

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Andy and Julie Plata are well-known pioneers in the document and high volume transaction output (HVTO) industry. Over the past quarter-century, the Plata’s have contributed greatly to its continuing evolution. Andy was the third president (now called chairman) of Xplor International, where he traveled extensively to help establish chapters in Canada, Europe and Australia. Julie was the developer of the Laser Training Institute and a consultant to Kodak during the development of its initial high-volume products. Both Andy and Julie have served as advisors to many of the major HVTO companies; and the couple’s business achievements have been lauded in the business and technology press.

Today, the Platas, owners and publishers of OutputLinks and Graphic Communications World, talk about their involvement with EDSF, the international non-profit organization dedicated to the document management and graphic communications industries. Visit EDSF at

How long have you been involved with EDSF?

Eight years. We attended the Foundation’s Inaugural dinner and started funding scholarships in 2002.

How many scholarships have you funded to date, and what type of scholarships are they?

The first scholarship we established was an endowment to fund in perpetuity the John Lopiano Endowed Scholarship. To date, we have funded approximately 30+ annual scholarships including an annual $5,000 scholarship honoring the 50+ OutputLinks Women of Distinction. Other scholarships honor Lifetime Achievements, Stewardship and Sustainability contributions by industry leaders. By partnering with EDSF to manage our scholarships, we do what we enjoy, fund the scholarships, while EDSF manages the day to day work and selection process to make it all work smoothly.

With the difficult economy and contributions to non-profits in a significant decline, your support for scholarships has increased. Can you share your philosophy on this?

Yes, these are challenging times and a recent report in the WSJ indicates a dramatic decline in charitable giving with one of the hardest hit being education. We see stewardship as an opportunity to be of service and, when times are tough, the need for stewardship is greater than ever. We have have steadily increased our donations and will continue to do so despite the economy. It may mean we have to work harder to find the available funds, but if those of us in business are being hammered by the economy, just imagine what those who are trying to complete an education must be going through. Hence, we simply feel that financial support for education is more important than ever before.

Have you met any of the scholarship students?

Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to meet many of the scholarship recipients and they are wonderful people. Their great and enthusiastic aspirations inspire us. Funding an EDSF Scholarship is a super opportunity to play a small role in helping them achieve their dreams. They are so appreciative of the financial support they received from our industry. They are the spark our industry needs to prosper. Every young person needs to know that others believe in them.

What message would you like to share about EDSF?

We all know the need is out there. We all know we need to keep new blood coming into our industry. We all know it is an exciting time in our industry and a great place to start a career. So, let’s all do what we all know – allocate the finds to fill the pipeline of s new generation of output professionals. EDSF makes it easy.

EDSF has several new programs: Adopt-a-Scholar and the Holiday Giving program that provide new ways to contribute at whatever level is comfortable for you or your company. All the donations are tax deductible and can go directly to supporting much needed scholarship funding. To learn more, visit

EDSF Scholar of the Day
Carolina Modenessy, New York University –
John Lopiano Scholarship 2008
EDSF Board of Directors Scholarship 2007

“The scholarship that EDSF has awarded me is such a wonderful help for my academic and future professional careers. I am very excited about fulfilling my career goals as a graphic designer/manager and, with help from organizations like EDSF, I can continue to reach for my dreams. Thank you!”

EDSF “The Future is Bright” Q&A: Tawnya Starr of PrinterPresence

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Tawnya Starr first learned about the power of the Web when she experienced phenomenal sales growth after launching a Web site for her printing company in New Mexico. In 2000, she joined PrinterPresence as president.

Starr has dedicated her career to educating the printing industry on all matters related to the Web and Web-to-print applications. She is recognized as an expert on Web marketing and how it enables companies of any size to save time and money while attracting and keeping customers. Starr is a published columnist and author, and in 2005 she received the prestigious Industry Award of Distinction from PrintImage International for her service as a consultant and educator to the industry. She has conducted hundreds of seminars and has been featured as a speaker at dozens of national and international print conventions.

The Season of Giving

Monday, December 7th, 2009

By Brenda Kai, executive director, EDSF

There is a popular holiday story in which a character named Scrooge is visited by three ghosts. Scrooge asks one of the ghosts, “Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?”

Can we change the future? A certain Ebenezer Scrooge asked this question and, to his everlasting relief, he found that good deeds and giving could, indeed, change the future. Giving has its rewards not only in the present but in the future – just ask any of EDSF’s scholarship recipients how much your contributions mean to them and their college education. EDSF is the international non-profit organization dedicated to the document management and graphic communications industries, and its scholarship program is benefiting hundreds of students worldwide.

Make a Difference with EDSF Industry Scholarships

Friday, December 4th, 2009

By Brenda Kai, executive director, EDSF

The future is bright for students studying and preparing for careers in the document management and graphic communications industry, and EDSF scholarships are making a big difference. EDSF is the international non-profit organization dedicated to the document management and graphic communications industries, and its scholarship program is benefiting hundreds of students worldwide. Today, EDSF offers donors the opportunity to establish three basic types of scholarships, which support our industry’s future workforce. The three types of scholarships that donors may establish are

EDSF “The Future is Bright” Q&A: Carl Gerhardt

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

EDSF, the international non-profit organization dedicated to the document management and graphic communications industries, could not be effective without the outstanding leadership of its Board of Directors. During EDSF’s “The Future is Bright” Awareness Campaign, you will hear from four leading industry executives about their support of EDSF’s mission.

Today, WhatTheyThink is talking to Carl Gerhardt, president and CEO of Allegra Network, LLC, a proud supporter of EDSF and its mission to ensure that the document management and graphic communications industry has the talent it needs to survive, grow and excel.

Q&A with EDSF Scholarship Selection Committee

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

EDSF’s “The Future is Bright” Awareness Campaign continues with a salute to its volunteers. For the next several weeks, you will meet the wonderful people that are vital to EDSF’s many programs.

This week, we talk with Bruce Murray, chair of the EDSF Scholarship Selection Committee, who answers questions about the EDSF scholarship program and introduces the other committee members.

Murray has 30 years of experience in marketing, communications and sales, including over 15 years in the electronic document management industry. Murray has been with Systemware, Inc., a leading electronic document management software firm, for the past 13 years, most recently as a market specialist. He holds an MBA in marketing from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA, from where he graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors.