Keeping our own show on the road is one thing but, in common with all printers, we also rely heavily on outside suppliers to keep our customers happy, whether they’re providing specialist print services, the paper we print on or the numerous components that keep our machinery running smoothly. And that isn’t quite so easy to stay in control of.
When we were asked earlier this year to design and print a book for an eminent architectural historian we needed to find a specialist hardback book printer to convert our digital artwork into a high quality finished product. As time passed and the company we’d chosen on the strength of their previous service loitered over the proofs and became ever more evasive, I grew ever more grateful that the publisher had taken the precaution of setting the launch date well in advance, allowing us plenty of time to sort out any conceivable problems.
Except one. Days before the launch, to which large numbers of subscribers had been invited, I received a rather sombre and embarrassed phone call from my elusive print contact to tell me that their company had just been put into administration and that there was now little prospect of getting my book delivered by the due date or, indeed, at all.
Since this was undoubtedly a greater calamity for the printers’ employees than it was for me, I commiserated through gritted teeth. Then I prepared myself for the deluge of recrimination I anticipated when I told my publishing client that their prestigious book launch was off and that I was now in negotiations with another print firm to start the production process again from scratch.
Happily my client is one one of those rare people who remain unfazed by whatever fate throws at them. Moreover, she fully appreciated that certain circumstances will inevitably always be beyond our control.
And so, tonight I shall be attending the much delayed launch, at least reasonably confident I won’t have the book thrown at me.