Friday, February 27, 2009

Industry standards

Before my meeting with a book printer’s sales rep yesterday, I reviewed a couple of pages I wrote back in 2001 about our manufacturing standards. Many aspects of book production have changed since then. The physical end product is still familiar, though, and I was pleased that none of what I wrote needed to be updated. One explanatory paragraph in particular should never need to be changed:

Are our standards higher than industry standards?

“Industry standards” is a terrible phrase, and seems to be most often used by printers who claim to have “unsurpassed quality” and are then trying to excuse clearly sloppy work. The only standards we care about are our standards and our printer’s standards, both of which must be equally high in order for us to receive books we can use. While we know from experience that some printers and publishers have much lower standards, we also know from our own experience and from conversations with many other publishers that our quality standards are not unusual.
I’ve always hated hearing the argument from any business or institution that they are cutting corners simply because their peers are also. The fact that someone has a lower standard is never a sufficient reason to lower yours. After almost 15 years in my chosen profession, I’m glad I can still do business with people who are not in a race to the bottom.

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