Letterworks Blog

Photobooks – the Next Generation Photo Album?

Posted by: Letterworks on: 14th March 2011

Remember life before digital cameras? When we used to actually take our film in, have it developed and then organise them into photo albums? These days, ‘photo albums’ are generally a link from your Facebook page, or an account on Flickr and drawers full of photos waiting to be put into an albums are a distant memory.

The downside is that often they only ever remain on a computer with the potential of them being lost or overwritten, giving no physical reminder or evidence of the event, holiday or memorable occasion and let’s be honest it really isn’t the same flicking through images on a computer to looking through a photo album with friends and family.

Enter Photobooks – some savvy entrepreneurs recognised that people miss the old photo albums and a Photobook isn’t too different, but instead of developing all your photos one by one and then painstakingly pasting them down onto album pages, photobooks are printed directly onto pages and the pages are bound together as a softback or hardback book.

Letterworks saw the writing on the wall and their recent investment in a full range fastbind photobook finishing kit from Ashgate Automation was featured in a recent press release which you can read here.

WSA – A must-go show for women in print!

Posted by: Letterworks on: 7th August 2010

I recently had an email from Pantone Inc, the renowned colour system experts for printers, inviting me to visit their stand at the WSA August show in Las Vegas. Without much encouragement, I hurriedly explored the possibility of attending, what I assumed was a colour imaging or print related show. I love to keep abreast of developments in the industry and I suppose if that means a trip to that most tacky but irresistible city, then I really think I should make the effort…it’s a terrible job, but someone’s gotta do it!

So, what exactly is WSA I wondered? World Sign Association perhaps…better google it and check it out before I book the flight. It turns out to be World Shoes and Accessories! Mixed feelings ensue, Vegas and shoes…does it get any better? With the best will in the world, my imagination is working overtime to come up with a possible business reason to go. But, to my annoyance my job in print doesn’t quite stretch into the shoes and accessories market (although strange coincidence we had done a beautiful brochure for a Brazilian footwear manufacturer this week) and with the best will in the world, I simply couldn’t justify my journey to Vegas.

On further reading of the WSA website, visitors have to be validated as shoe retailers – does the viewing of Mary Portas’s retail show count I hopefully wondered?!

It’s all about attitude

Posted by: Letterworks on: 30th July 2010

I enjoy watching those fly on the wall business reality shows and last nights ‘Undercover Boss’ was something of a reminder for me as a business owner!

If you’re not familiar with the Channel 4 programme, the chief exec of a major company secretly poses as a trainee and goes back to the shop floor to see how the front-line staff deliver the company message. Many of these companies have had a downturn in sales and last nights subject, Harry Ramsdens’ restaurant chain was no exception.

The CEO of Harry Ramsden, Marija Simovic shadowed staff in several branches, some of which were experiencing a nosedive in trade and were fearful for their future. Despite this, they were all an absolute credit to the company and it highlighted to me that if you get people with the right attitude you can teach and train them, but one thing you can’t easily change is bad attitude. Hats off to Marija and the staff there, they deserve to succeed.

Freesheet Evening Standard loses £28.3m

Posted by: Letterworks on: 12th July 2010

Evening Press, the trading name for the iconic Evening Standard has reported a £28.3m loss in it’s first year of trading. The paper was bought in December 08 by Alexander Lebedev, a Russian media magnate for £6.7m. Lebedev turned the paper into a freesheet on acquisition and indeed has blamed the loss partly on the costs incurred on the change of business model.

As a publisher of free publications ourselves, albeit on a tiny scale in comparison, we surely hope that the paper can turn it’s fortunes around and that the future of our free provincial publications can survive these difficult times. I know the likes of the iPad will not be helping the cause of paper publishing, but personally I still believe that there are times when paper just feels right…and I’m sure millions of London tube passengers would agree!

Digital Economy Bill – no more iphone in the works loo!

Posted by: Letterworks on: 14th June 2010

June 12th saw the entry of the Digital Economy Bill to our statute books and despite huge protests from some journalists and public rights campaigners, it’s slipped into our lawbooks without much notice.

The bill was presented under the labour government in April and without any fanfare has got assent on June 12th. The Liberal Democrats had pre-election announced it illiberal and that if in power would repeal it. But it now seems that the coalition government have other things on their mind to worry about.

There are many things I don’t like about this bill. The fact that Letterworks internet service could be shut down if one of my customers uses our wi-fi to download from any copyright infringement sites, whilst on-site (or even outside in the carpark, if they remember the password). Do I really have to nanny their use or my employees for that matter? In this age of smartphones, any employee could take their phone into the bathroom and download something they shouldn’t courtesy of our wi-fi account. Where does the employer stand? Should employers ban the taking of iphones into lavatories? One thing is for sure, if we have no internet service, we have no business.

There are many serious implications of this law and this is just one small company’s take on it. If you want to read more about the impact on both commercial and private life, I strongly recommend you read the articles available, including Wikipedia.

From a humanitarian viewpoint, the blocking of public information sites like Wikileaks would be outrageous. Wikileaks was set up by a Swedish organisation with the aim of bringing the worlds attention to many dubious activities by public officials and governments. It offers journalists the opportunity to bring serious issues anonymously to the publics attention.This is often in the form of leaked documents that are in the public interest. If you haven’t visited this site, you will be amazed by some of its content, although as much of it is put up without the owners permission, doing so from June 12th could land you in big trouble!

Has the worm finally turned for print?

Posted by: Letterworks on: 5th June 2010

After visiting IPEX at the NEC earlier this month, we seemed to get lots of positives coming out of this bruised and battered industry called print. Show visitors and reported sales orders were encouraging. There was a buzz that has been absent for many a month. The stands and halls, although reduced in size, seemed to evoke a feeling of an industry that had survived the attack and is finally ready to do battle again.

On the same theme, Letterworks had three occasions this week when we gave our price and terms, got told we wouldn’t get the work unless we negotiated (downward of course) and as the printer, we were expected to capitulate and humbly accept whatever was on offer. Well, thankfully, we have enough work to start saying no again. As it goes, we got those three jobs anyhow. But maybe, just maybe the tide has turned in favour of the beleaguered print industry and we can finally return to reasonable deadlines and decent terms.

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Doing business the Greek way

Posted by: Letterworks on: 28th May 2010

Every now and then you have to take a step back and look at what’s really important to you and your business. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the importance of now. Deadlines getting reduced, pressures mounting, stress levels rising, bank manager moaning. A small gesture therefore can mean so much when the pressure is really on.

This time of year Letterworks seem to get inundated with producing theses and university projects that absolutely have to be produced tout suite for the students to hand in for their coursework. So much time and effort has been poured into this work, that for not an awful lot of money, we have the responsibility of helping these students achieve the grades they have worked so hard for, well in between the partying at least.

It made a lovely change to have a Greek lady (who had us produce a perfect bound book for her urgently over the weekend) who was so delighted and relieved that she wouldn’t shake my hand, “we don’t shake hands in my country, we hug” she insisted as she squeezed me tight.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the lovely uncynical nature of youth and of a more relaxed Greek style of doing business. For the rest of the day at least, I’d got that feelgood factor back!

From the BBC to QVC

Posted by: Letterworks on: 20th May 2010

It’s been a long time since Letterworks produced anything for the small screen, but like buses it all comes at once!

We recently got asked by the BBC in White City to research typography for a drama reconstruction that is due to go out in the summer. We were delighted to recreate authentic period stationery for a drama about the life of Seebohm Rowntree (of the confectionery family). Mr Rowntree was a Quaker social reformer and our task was to choose an appropriate typeface reminiscent of the arts and crafts period and the characteristics of his personality. After consulting our trusted type manuals the font we felt suited both the simplicity of the period and of the man was Copperplate Gothic 31 B-C. The BBC was very pleased with the choice and happily advised that it filmed very well. I look forward to seeing the finished article, skyplus is set already!

Then, channelhopping to QVC, a client of ours has asked us to produce a large run of 15000 sets of nail wraps to show and sell on the famous shopping channel. This particular client has some rather high profile A listers visiting their London salon and I shall be looking very closely at the fingernails of the supermodel covergirls on Vogue to see if they may be wearing our products!

At least it makes a change from business cards…

Social Media replaces ink for Daisy Benson

Posted by: Letterworks on: 6th April 2010

So we have a date from Gordon Brown…the general election is May 6th and many of us printers have had our presses primed and plenty of blue, red or, in our particular case, turquoise and yellow ink held in stock.

Daisy Benson, the Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Reading West has had Letterworks produce traditional print and promotion material for her election campaign. Interestingly, this is the first UK election where social media will play a major part in the canvassing activities of our prospective MPs. What a difference five years make in the cyber world of politics!

Barack Obama set up every possible social media channel for his relatively low budget campaign and we all know what result he got. Taking a leaf out of his book, Daisy Benson has got the lot too, and why not – it’s got to be the most cost effective way to spread your campaign message, so jolly good luck to Daisy in the coming weeks.

Just one small friendly reminder though Daisy, in the words of David Cameron “Too many tweets make a twat” So please keep buying the print as well!