Who works in a printing house? If the question was asked in a Sunday’s episode of Family Feud the top-ranked answer would probably be a ‘printer’. Some participants could come up with a ‘bookbinder’, possibly ranked second. And then what? The matter is not so easy, so let us help you before the other team takes control and your points. We’ll spare you the jokes, though.
Customer service and sales representatives
These people are your first point of contact. They link the publisher with the production. Their role is to explain what results can be expected and to make sure that you (in the first place) and everyone concerned is happy with the final product. They prepare estimates, transfer files to the prepress department and monitor the order to ensure the book is ready on time. If anything goes wrong with an order they will have to account for it, even if they are not to blame. It’s a difficult job that requires good practical and technical knowledge, as well as the appropriate customer approach. That’s why they deserve respect and priority access to the coffee machine.
Customer service representatives hand the files over to prepress technicians whose job is to prepare them for printing. First, a prepress technician uses special software to check that there are no defects in the files, such as missing bleeds, inadequate image resolution or incorrectly prepared masks for enhancements etc. Then they make an imposition which is a digital arrangement of individual pages on a single sheet.
They mainly operate guillotines. Despite the spine-chilling association the machine is absolutely safe: none of our cutter operators have lost a finger. The machine is a single-knife cutter used to trim the sheets to the format used by the press. If the printing process requires, the cutter operator cuts off the bleeds from finished prints.
Prepress transfers the files to the press room where press operators, or printers – the top-ranking answer in our Family Feud episode – take over. The printer’s job has changed a lot over the centuries. Printers can’t be readily recognised by their ink-stained hands any more. Now their job involves operating sophisticated printing presses and supervising the printing process. They also make sure the colours are reproduced as accurately as expected.
To put it simply, bookbinders bind books. Preparing the block and the covers is their main job. Like in the case of the printer, a bookbinder usually operates and supervises machines. However, not everything can be done using a machine; some activities need manual work. Mind you – manual does not mean slow. The staff in our bindery use their hands at a head-spinning rate!
Publishers know well that there are many different materials used in a printing house: various types of paper, base cases, covering materials, book cloths, threads and binding tapes. Some of these materials are stored at our printing house so that you wouldn’t have to wait. Our warehouse staff look after the material stocks.
When the books are ready the time comes to deliver them to the publisher.
Our shipping department works to protect, package and ship your books as arranged. The staff make sure the books arrive at their destination safely and on time.
Is that everyone?
Of course not! A printing house is a substantial undertaking and a workplace. A lot of people are required to ensure its smooth operation. We have accountants issuing invoices and handling finances. There is a personnel department helping the present staff and recruiting new employees. We must not forget about the drivers who travel across the country to deliver books. None of the mentioned staff could work without our IT specialists. Our logistics assistants go out of their way to overcome material availability issues caused by the pandemic. The marketing department do their best to spread the word about TOTEM to the furthest corners of the world. Last but not least, the maintenance and housekeeping personnel make our work safer and more pleasant.
It’s good to be aware that it takes more than just a printer to print a book.