By: Mark Vruno
Innovative, hybrid concept presented by Swiss Post Solutions offers customized news content. Create it online; read it in print the next day. It sounds good on paper, but …
Many people still prefer print to the online reading experience, especially when it comes to newspapers. Europeans, in particular, seem to love their morning paper. The printed medium is tactile — you can touch and feel it. You don’t have to plug it in. Research shows that newsprint users retain more of what they read than their oft-distracted, online counterparts.
How much would you pay to have a “personalized” newspaper delivered to your doorstep? The MyNewspaper pilot project is making ink(jet)-on-paper newspapers tailored to readers’ interests a printed reality. For the past nine months, Swiss readers have been creating their own customized paper online, choosing daily content options from a dozen national and international publications. Logistics firm Swiss Post Intl. delivers the German-language newspapers the following day. “This means that readers can combine information from different publishers, depending on what they are interested in and their reading habits,” said Carsten Vossmeyer, head of press/publishers at Swiss Post, which successfully tested the personalized paper concept three years ago under the name Personal News.
During its yearlong pilot trial, which ends in late November, the MyNewspaper product is available in the Zurich, Basel, Berne, Lucerne, and Aarau areas of Switzerland. (The same service is available anywhere in the world as an e-paper for iPad and other tablets.) Pagination options are available in 24-, 36-, and 64-page formats.
MyNewspaper uses software developed by Previon. Contents are collated into a file based on subscribers’ orders and then transferred to Swiss Post. Individualized newspapers are then digitally printed overnight on an Océ Jet- Stream 1000 by subsidiary Swiss Post Solutions AG in the Härkingen letter center and mailed the next day.
Swiss Post Solutions has been operating the JetStream 1000 since mid-2010, primarily for transaction and transpromo applications in day-shift operation. MyNewspaper permits additional capacity utilization of the system during the night shift. The JetStream — in its quality, performance, and costs — is optimally tailored to the digitally printed newspaper market. According to Océ, more than 1,000 36-page tabloid newspapers per hour can be printed in high quality and in full color on original newsprint.
The JetStream 1000 is “the optimal product for implementing the personalized newspaper concept,” said Roland Glauser, MyNewspaper project manager. “The many years of experience possessed by Océ in the printing of fully variable data considerably simplified implementation of the project.”
Océ holds several international patents in the area of personalized newspapers. “We patented the concept for personalized newspapers and founded the Digital Newspaper Network,” said Sebastian Landesberger, executive vice president of Océ Production Printing. “As the partner of Swiss Post … Océ is once again a pioneer in the digital newspaper market.”
New distribution channel for publishers
In theory, the MyNewspaper concept offers new perspectives for publishers and advertisers with the customer-customized newspaper. Its target groups include several hundred thousand readers from Germany who live and work in Switzerland. “This model is particularly interesting for publishers working internationally in combination with digital printing,” said Max Rubens, head of Press Intl., another Swiss Post subsidiary. “After all, there will still be people in the future who attach importance to a printed newspaper and don’t want to read everything on screen.”
But the proverbial jury is still out as to whether the project continues into 2013 and beyond. As of press time, “no decision [had] been made …” Bernhard Bürki, a spokesman within Swiss Post’s media unit, said via email, adding that “demand for the service and economic feasibility will be the most important criteria for the continuation of MyNewspaper.”
After the first six months, Bürki said, Swiss Post had not “gained as many subscribers as we were expecting.” He added that program changes have been made, based on customer surveys, including more newspapers from which to select content, and a downward adjustment of pricing. The printed version of MyNewspaper was originally priced at the USD equivalent of $62/month, or about $2 per day/ issue.
“We simplified the subscription model from 20 possible subscriptions to four and lowered the price for the smallest subscription from 60 Swiss francs to 25,” Bürki said. “We are happy with the print quality and how the pilot is working out from the technical aspect in general.”
Gulf News Printed in Berliner Format
For three months now, United Arab Emirates media company Al Nisr Publishing in Dubai has been printing the Gulf News in waterless offset on a multi-unit KBA Cortina with both coldset and heatset capabilities. The highly automated web press is the first Cortina installation outside Europe. Its inauguration marked a change of format for the Gulf News to the Berliner format, which is rapidly gaining ground in the international newspaper industry.
The double-wide, one-around hybrid press, which the investment-friendly media house selected after rigorously screening the technology available on the market, was installed along with cutting-edge Ferag mailroom systems in a new high-tech production plant on an industrial estate approximately 38 miles outside Dubai — in the middle of the desert. It comprises 12 reelstands, 12 towers, four thermal dryers, and three folders, and has a total capacity of either 96 full-color Berliner-format broadsheet pages or 192 tabloid pages in A4-plus format. Of these, up to 32 broadsheet or 64 tabloid pages can be produced in heatset mode. Gulf News is printed partly on standard newsprint running through eight coldset tower, and partly on semi-coated stock, for which the remaining four towers operate with thermal dryers.
The ability to produce heatset and coldset webs via a common folder allows the press not only to print the English-language Gulf News with the superior ad quality that is part of its appeal, but also other hybrid products with an enhanced visual impact. Coldset and heatset products such as supplements and magazines can be delivered via different folders. Irrespective of the production mode, the inks applied in all the waterless Cortina’s towers are identical, which means that no change of ink is necessary when switching to a different type of stock. This delivers enormous flexibility and productivity gains compared to conventional wet offset presses with integrated thermal dryers, according to KBA.
Detailed definition and color brilliance with the waterless offset Cortina are intrinsically high, as was recently demonstrated once again by the outstanding rankings of seven European Cortina users accepted for membership in the International Newspaper Color Quality Club from 2012-2014.
“From the economic perspective, the reduction in makeready times, waste, maintenance, and labor input associated with the Cortina’s automation and cutting-edge technology — which include KBA PlateTronic automatic plate changers and CleanTronic washing systems — was a key criterion influencing our investment decision,” said Al Nisr managing director Obaid Humaid Al Tayer. Distributed not just in the United Arab Emirates but also in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan, Gulf News is published seven days a week and has a daily circulation of more than 120,000 copies.
Chinese Printer Goes, Grows with Goss
In China, the Tianjin Evening News Group has expressed “unreserved satisfaction” with performance figures achieved since installation of its two-tower Goss Newsliner press. Its 4×1 format enhances flexibility and cost-effectiveness of straight-run production for the publisher’s leading daily titles. A key component is the capability to produce two separate publications through one folder.
In choosing the Newsliner, Tianjin Evening News Group was looking for a high-specification press rated at up to 80,000 copies per hour that would enhance capacity and flexibility while achieving cost advantages. With a web width of up to 61.5 inches, the new double-width, single-circumference press is configured as two 4-over-4 towers. It has a Goss 2:3:3 jaw folder featuring double independent folding couples and an upper former providing the crucial ability to simultaneously handle two individual titles with different circulations. This provides cost benefits through maximizing savings on consumables while boosting press utilization. The press is also equipped with ink registration and ink leveling systems.
Tianjin Evening News Group has been a long-term Goss newspaper press user, and the latest installation complements production of four 2×2 (single-wide, double-circumference) Universal and three 2×1 Universal presses. “Naturally, the advanced features and overall capabilities of the equipment is first and foremost when making an investment of this magnitude and significance, but it certainly helps in the decision when you can trust your technology partner,” said Li Shengli, vice president of Tianjin Evening News Group. “Our experience with eight Goss presses over the years has been very positive. In addition to the competitive features of the equipment, it is the professionalism and reliable service of the whole team that has given us confidence in this new investment.”
Using the proven Newsliner double-width platform often favored in Asian markets, Goss developed the 4×1 model to exploit all the available benefits of straight-run printing for publishers requiring multi-edition products. As well as the modifications to the upper folder, this encompassed a raft of developments aimed at enhancing quality and operational stability of the 4×1 cylinder format. The 4×1 Newsliner model features plate cylinders redesigned to reduce deflection and improve registration. Cantilevered support for plate cylinders provides greater stability and repeatability at the highest speeds, and a specially modified “triple raceway” bearing system gives greater precision and easier operation. Other advanced features include optional Goss DigiRail digital inking and an enhanced fully automated splicing system.
Among the leading titles now produced on the Newsliner press is the flagship broadsheet Tianjin Evening News, which averages 32 to 40 pages per edition and has a circulation of 350,000 copies. The new 4×1 press also is boosting efficiency in daily production of tabloid Baohai Morning Post, which has a pagination of between 56 and 72 and a circulation of 250,000 copies.
QuadTech Receives InterTech Technology Award
Printing Industries of America (PIA) has announced that the QuadTech Color Control and Web Inspection System with AccuCam is a recipient of its prestigious InterTech Technology Award. Since 1978, the award has “honored the development of technologies predicted to have a major impact on the graphic communications and related industries.”
“The judges were impressed with the system’s ability to control color and provide automatic water control to minimize scumming in newspapers,” said Mark Bohan, Ph.D., vice president of technology and research at PIA. “Color control without color bars is the future. This eliminates waste and enhances the visual appearance of print.”
The AccuCam system provides fully automatic, closed-loop color control by controlling the ink-key settings. An image-based system, AccuCam eliminates the need for unsightly gray bars or color bars. Using pre-press image files to create L*a*b* target aim point values, its proprietary six-channel spectral sensor measures the printed web and calculates the L*a*b* values of the entire image. Then the system brings the printed image to the specified target values and automatically maintains color quality throughout the production run.
Besides advanced image-based color control, the system provides reliable warnings of many common printing faults such as catch up (scumming), creasing, transposed plates, and tramlines. Recent research and development efforts have resulted in a new AccuCam water control capability, in which the system monitors and controls press damping levels.
Requirements for the award include testimonials from users of the technology who will comment on its performance in a production setting. Recommendations for AccuCam were made by Mark Ellington, group technical services director at Newsprinters (the printing division of News Intl.); Ulrich Müller, technical director at Herold Druck; and Toru Uesaka, production bureau director at the Sankei Shimbun.
“We’re honored to receive this recognition from Printing Industries of America. Our AccuCam technology is the result of close development partnerships with some of the most advanced printers in the world,” said Karl Fritchen, president of QuadTech. “And, of course, congratulations are due to our product development team at QuadTech, who are second to none when it comes to technology innovation in the print industry.”
Vince Balistrieri, QuadTech’s director of engineering and general manager of commercial & newspaper, added, “The AccuCam system has a proven track record of reducing waste and delivering consistent quality. Our development partnerships will help us to continue adding more features and capabilities — further strengthening printers’ ability to grow and increase profit margins. We’re very excited about what AccuCam can do for newspaper and retail insert printers throughout the world.”
One Month Until Graph Expo
The annual Graph Expo (graphexpo.com) printing trade show opens at Chicago’s McCormick Place Oct. 7, running through the 10th.
Back by attendee demand is the new home for the newspaper publishing industry: the News Print Pavilion. Responding to the call from newspaper production pros from throughout the Americas, this 9,000-square-foot exhibit space is devoted to the needs of newspaper publishers and printers seeking ways to cut costs, boost profits, and make informed buying decisions in areas including:
— Hybrid production
— Digital presses (hardware and software)
— Offset presses
— CTP and associated plate bending/punching
— UV and heatset technology
— Postpress and mailroom equipment
Graph Expo’s “Print Integrated” theme for the 2012 show underscores the exhibition’s broad scope, spanning the realm of print, online, and mobile spaces. Not only will the latest technologies be on display, but there also will be a full slate of new educational sessions and 45 co-located events, including the International Newspaper Group (ING) conference and the manroland users’ group.
New for 2012 is the Global Channel Partners Summit — a show floor hub where dealers will come to examine current industry trends and network with manufacturers and customers — and the PrintMediaCenter “Experience the Printerverse,” a new home base for attendees to meet, tweet, learn, share, interact, and explore the latest innovations and applications that are driving the industry forward. Registrants for any of the educational sessions also receive a free Graph Expo 2012 floor pass.
With October only a month away, it’s not too late to book hotel rooms for the show. Attendees who book through the official housing service are guaranteed the best rates at the most popular and convenient hotels in downtown Chicago. For more information visit graphexpo.com/HotelTravel.aspx.