Pressing On: Because That’s What Printers Do

America’s printers, more than ever in our 80-plus-year history, Printing News (PN) wants to hear from you about what is working in your plants and what is not. In this issue, for example, we interviewed some short-run digital book printers about their finishing preferences—in-line, near-line or off-line. We also look at how some shops keep dollars in-house by jobbing out to trade printers. From coast to coast, we’re asking, what is it that you need to do your jobs smarter, faster, better? We want you to open up and share your stories with your peers. So, to break the ice as new editor, here’s one of mine.

Sitting at home and warming my feet one pre-spring evening last month, I thought wow, I’ve really made it. I have this exciting new gig with Cygnus and PN, and it comes with my very own column complete with national exposure now. Last May, editorial director Bob Hall confidentially approached me about a larger role for PN, so this process was akin to human gestation, nine months in the making. For me, it’s not so much the blank-page syndrome, feared by many a writer and editor, because my racing mind seldom lacks for ideas. My first thought was, “What do I call my page?”

Mark my words

Years ago, when I was an aspiring journalist—before I ventured into Corporate America and trade publishing—my father, who religiously read syndicated Chicago muckraker Mike Royko, had what he thought was the ideal name for my column, should I ever get one in a newspaper: “Mark, My Words.” It was admittedly clever and kind of cute (although I would come to learn there are more reporters named Mark than you might first think). In homage, I later incorporated and named my communications firm Mark My Word, sans the “s,” in the mid-1990s and proudly presented Dad with the first business card hot off the press.

But, with apologies to him, “Pressing On” is more apropos for this column because that’s precisely what printers do, literally and figuratively. Reflecting about what the printing and publishing industries have been through over the past three years or so—the print firms which have not survived the economical and technological tumult; the newspapers and magazines that have gone away, including our own regional weekly and the once formidable Graphic Arts Monthly, where I previously had toiled—I was reminded of the inspiring, true story of Richard Robert (R.R.) Donnelley; yes, that Donnelley. The Canadian-born son of Scottish immigrants lost his home, his printing business and most of his clothes in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In search of financing and wearing a borrowed coat, the resourceful entrepreneur took advantage of a free ticket and boarded a train to New York City, where only his rock-solid reputation preceded him. And like a mythical phoenix reborn and rising in flight from the smoldering ashes still swirling in the Windy City, the determined Donnelley pressed on and proudly rebuilt his Midwestern print shop, which would grow to become a North American manufacturing empire. In that spirit, let’s continue pressing on, my friends, and help each other along the way.

Mark Vruno