The Benefits of Sending Pre-Press Production Work to a Vendor
A question which regularly comes up for discussion in our management meetings is, “What is a publisher’s point of view to justify keeping pre-press production in-house?”
Each of our U.S.-based production editors employed by Westchester handles thousands of manuscript pages per year which are received directly from the author. With such a large flow of client projects, we have systems and procedures in place which ensure our PEs work at peak productivity and are not distracted by non-project related tasks. As a result of the high volume of work we receive, we can negotiate extremely competitive rates with our network of over 300 copy editors, who are thoroughly tested, and specifically selected so their copyediting skills match the project content and style.
On the typesetting side, the publishing industry embraced an off-shore business model nearly 20 years ago, putting most U.S. typesetting companies out of business. In 2008, Westchester purchased a composition shop in Chennai, India, which ensures we’re able to keep our composition (typesetting) production costs competitive. Our employees in India are compensated at the high end of the compensation range compared to our India-based competitors, however, it is certainly not what a U.S. based typesetting position would pay. Other vendors won’t hesitate to outsource your work to third-party shops where the oversight may be lacking, resulting in delays and/or poor quality in the final product. All Westchester client composition work is performed at our 100%-owned Chennai composition shop, with significant U.S. management oversight and U.S. quality control checks. As an employee-owned company, we take prudent measures to keep overhead low across our operations in the U.S. and India – allowing us to pass those savings on to our customers in the form of lower prices.
Given these factors, I don’t see how a publisher could match our pre-press production quality or costs by using in-house resources. An explanation I’ve heard from time to time is, “Based on our production editors/project managers working on projects 60% of their time, our cost per page or project are X”. While this is the purest direct project cost, it doesn’t consider the 40% of the time which isn’t spent working on projects, or the overhead necessary to maintain in-house staff including managers and facility costs.
There are certainly other factors related to outsourcing pre-press production, including vendor quality versus in-house quality, and the perceived cost-savings when using a flock of U.S.-based freelance typesetters, which given the requirements of freelance management, brings the image of herding cats to mind.
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