Web browsers may start marking your site as insecure

Web browsers may start marking your site as insecure

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by Charles Groce, CEO of Pearl Street Consulting

Google announced a few weeks ago that the Chrome web browser would start marking sites that don’t support HTTPS as “insecure”, leveraging its web browser market share to improve web security standards.  Soon after, Mozilla jumped on board and indicated it would do the same with the Firefox browser.

What does this mean for print and for you?  Go to your computer, open your favorite web browser, and try entering in HTTPS:// in front of your company website URL instead of the standard HTTP://  If you get a message about an Insecure Connection, then your site is not secured by what’s called an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate.  The same goes if it’s blocked and won’t load at all.

Without going too much into the technicalities, think of an SSL certificate as a letter from a close business associate endorsing you and your business as authentic.  This is what an SSL certificate issuer does for your website.  They verify it is where you say it is, that you own it, and then when a potential customer visits your site, tells them that your website is authentic and your web server isn’t trying to steal information.  All of this goes on under the hood of your web browser without you having to do anything as a business owner…except have the certificate.  Pretty neat huh?

So why didn’t this come up before?  Back in the early web, most data online was public text and images.  HTTP actually stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, and for the early web this was fine.  However as eCommerce began to evolve, and people began to understand how the internet could be used in business transactions, attempts to steal information and defraud users became more sophisticated.

The most classic of these is the so called “man in the middle attack”.  Without a way to verify a website resides at a particular server, there’s nothing to stop a third party from pretending to host your website and get information submitted to it by users.  Moreover, information intercepted in by an attacker can be sent on to your site in such a way that you think it originated from the legitimate user.  Thus neither you nor your customer would know there was a “man in the middle”, passing information back and forth completely undetected.

The solution to this is the SSL certificate, which allows encrypted traffic in the form of the encrypted version of HTTP, HTTPS (HTTPS Secure or HTTP over SSL), and introduces a third party certifier into your internet transactions.  Prior to this week, HTTPS was considered optional and really only a necessity for those sites accepting credit card payments over the internet or offering browser-based email access (also known as webmail).  As of the end of January, however, SSL has more or less become a practical requirement.

If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed, your customers will start seeing “INSECURE SITE” notifications in their Chrome and Firefox browsers, and may think twice about sending work your way, especially if the data being sent is sensitive and has any liability attached to it.  Be smart:  reach out to your IT vendor and get this going today.

As far as the costs, that’s mostly for you and your IT vendor to work out.  SSL certificates typically cost $50 to $100 dollars and have to be renewed annually.  GoDaddy can set you up.  However there’s also a free service called Let’s Encrypt which issues SSL certificates, but you may need to have the proper environment for this to be practical.

It’s best to stay ahead of these changes.  Google already announced last year that it would begin degrading websites that don’t support HTTPS in their search results.  With this latest announcement, they’re changing the web, and making it more secure.  When you think about it, this is a historic moment in the life of the internet.

About the author:  Charles Groce is the CEO of Pearl Street Consulting, a Michigan-based IT, web, and software consultancy.   Charles is also the founder of osforprint.com, an open source technology solutions provider for the printing industry.

Selling Success: It Starts with Empathy

Selling Success: It Starts with Empathy

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by John Raithel, President of Colorbar, Inc.

With the challenges of a slower growing economy, salespeople are under increased pressure to sell more work and at better margins. Increased sales performance pressures can and often do rush salespeople through the sales process and mistakes are made. In haste, they fail to fully plan for the sales call and how best to approach their prospect or customer visit. An area that is often overlooked by salespeople is; how will the purchaser perceive or feel about the sales visit? Feeling Empathy.

But is it even possible for salespeople to feel empathy for their customers when their own burden is so great? Yes, it is, and essential to sales success. But what does empathy mean? Webster’s definition is “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position”.

Sales trainers touch on the idea of empathy but somewhat miss the mark. Their message for sales success is to be a good listener, find client issues and offer solutions…consultative selling. I agree these skills are very important, but they are not at the core of long-term sales success. Empathy is.

To achieve lasting success, sales professionals must understand and feel what their client is experiencing. They must adapt quickly to their client’s changing frame of reference, and since no buyer or sales situation is ever the same, salespeople need to focus on the skill of feeling empathy.

Empathy comes naturally to some people, but for others it requires more attention and thought. This doesn’t mean that one person is more genuine or better than the other, as long as the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference is achieved.

While researching and preparing for a sales call, think about how your customer may view your findings. Make a list of questions to ask your client that will give you insight on how they feel and think and listening to their answers will give you a better understanding of their world. Also, keep in mind, people in the same organization don’t feel the same or have the same objectives and motivations, or even view problems the same. Your goal is to better understand how each person you are interacting with feels.

Here is just a small list of thoughts that may help you better understand your customer. There are many more that may fit better for you.

How is their day going? Not just your standard meet & greet question “how ya doing?” but are they focusing on your sales visit or is it elsewhere?

Are they feeling appreciated, burdened and overworked?

What is expected of them? Not just their job description, but from their company, themselves.

How are they evaluated? What are their goals? What do they have to deliver to get recognition, promotion or financial reward? What is their company culture? How do they view vendors? Does their personality and business style match their company’s culture and position? By not having empathy for your buyer, they won’t trust you to share their real problems. By not understanding what challenges your customers have, most likely your solutions will be wrong. You can’t just ask them what their problems are unless you first built a trusting relationship built on empathy. If you do, most likely the problem they have is…”the price is too high”.

So, understanding your buyer’s frame of reference is key to becoming a trusted advisor and achieving long-term success. Pre-sales call preparation is the key, even for existing customers. Changes happen quickly today so never assume. Researching companies and people is a lot easier today with social media websites, but don’t let that be your only source. These sites can provide a great deal of information. Company websites tell a lot about the organization by how it looks, etc. When researching buyers, stroll down on their LinkedIn page to see what organizations they follow or groups they belong. How many 1st connections do they have? Remember you’re trying to get a better sense of who they are as people and the culture they work in. Talk to people who may have experience with them. Has your company done business with them in the past, maybe with a different origination? Anything to help you prepare to see the world through your customer’s eyes.

Don’t try to solve problems unless you know for sure that’s what the buyer wants. People don’t always want you to solve their problems. Their employment may exist because of company’s problems and feel threaten when a vendor offers to fix them. You are there to sell, if fixing a problem helps in that goal, great, consulting is a solution.

Don’t assume your technology or efficiencies are important to buyers. Technologies, efficiencies and equipment may be important to some but not to others, even within the same organization. Remember each person in a purchasing role or a purchasing influencing position sees the vender/buyer relationship differently.

Also, don’t mistake how you feel about purchasing it is how others do as well. Not placing yourself in the shoes of your customer will cost you business. Buyers lean to their comfortable buying style, but can and do change according to their internal situations. What worked with them in the past, may not work now, so keep current with your buyers and their companies.

Being a sales professional is a great and rewarding career, but to have long-term success a commitment to constant improvement and empathy is needed. If the commitment to this is lost, soon, so will be the customers. With experience, training and continuing education, you will achieve great success, but always remember, as a strong building starts with a strong foundation, so too must a sales person start with empathy.

About the author: John Raithel, President of Colorbar, Inc. jraithel@colorbarinc.com

Steve Case and “The Third Wave” of the Internet

Steve Case and “The Third Wave” of the Internet

By Kevin Donley, multimediaman.org

 

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In 1980, Alvin Toffler published The Third Wave, a sequel to his 1970 best-seller Future Shock and an elaboration of his ideas about the information age and its stressful impact on society. In contrast to his first book, Toffler sought in The Third Wave to convince readers not to dread the future but instead to embrace the potential at the heart of the information revolution.

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Alvin Toffler

Actually, Alvin—and his co-author wife Heidi Toffler—were among the few writers to appreciate early on the transformative power of electronic communications. Long before the word “Internet” was used by anyone but a few engineers working for the US Department of Defense—and after reporting for Fortune magazine on foundational Third Wave companies like IBM, AT&T and Xerox—Toffler began to hypothesize about “information overload” and the disruptive force of networked data and communications upon manufacturing, business, government and the family.

 

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For example, one can read in the The Third Wave, “Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilization from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave.” Appearing today as a little excessive, these words would certainly have seemed in 1980 to be a wild exaggeration by two fanatical tech futurists.

But Alvin and Heidi were really onto something. More than 35 years later, who can deny the truth behind Toffler’s basic ideas about the global information revolution and its consequences? The Internet, networked PCs, the World Wide Web, wireless broadband, smartphones, social media and, ultimately, the Internet of Things have changed and are changing every aspect of society.

To his credit, Steve Case—who cofounded the early Internet company America Online—has written a new book called The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future that borrows its title from Toffler’s pioneering work. As Case explains in the preface, he was motivated by Toffler’s theories as a college student because they “completely transformed the way I thought about the world—and what I imagined for the future.”

Steve Case’s The Third Wave

First Wave Internet companies

First Wave Internet companies

In Steve Case’s book, “The Third Wave” refers to three phases of Internet development as opposed to Toffler’s stages of civilization. For Case, the first wave was the construction of the “on ramps”—including AOL and others like Sprint, Apple and Microsoft—to the information superhighway. The second wave was about building on top of first wave infrastructure by companies like Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Twitter and others that have developed “software as a service” (SAS).

Case’s Third Wave of the Internet is the promise of connecting everything to everything else, i.e. the rebuilding of entire sectors of the economy with “smart” technologies. While the ideas surrounding what he calls the Internet of Everything are not new—Case does not claim to have originated the concept—the new book does discuss important barriers to the realization of the Third Wave of Internet connectivity and how to overcome them.

 

Second Wave Internet companies

Second Wave Internet companies

Case argues that Third Wave companies will require a new set of principles in order to be successful, that following the playbook of Second Wave companies will not do. He writes, “The playbook they need, instead, is one that worked during the First Wave, when the Internet was still young and skepticism was still high; when the barriers to entry were enormous, and when partnerships were a necessity to reaching your customers; when the regulatory system was coming to grips with a new reality and struggling to figure out the appropriate path forward.”

In much of the book, Case reviews his ideas about the transformation of the health care, education and food industries by applying the culture of innovation and ambition for change that is commonly found in Silicon Valley. However, he cautions that current Second Wave models of venture capital investment, views about the role of government and aversion to collaboration among entrepreneurs threaten to stall or kill Third Wave change before it can get started.

The story of AOL

In some ways, the most interesting aspects of Case’s book deal with the origin, growth and decline of America Online (AOL). Case gives a candid explication of the trials and tribulations of his innovative dial-up Internet company from 1983 to 2003. Case explains that prior to the achievement of significant consumer (27.6 million users by 2002) and Wall Street ($222 billion market cap by 1999) success, AOL and its precursors went through a series of near death experiences.

 

Steve Case in 1987 before the founding of America Online

Steve Case in 1987 before the founding of America Online

For example, he tells the story of a deal that he signed with Apple in 1987 that was cancelled by the Cupertino-based company during implementation. Case had sold Apple customer service executives on a partnership with his then Quantum Computer Services to build an online support system called Apple Link Personal Edition that would be offered to customers as a software add-on. Disagreements between Apple and Quantum over how to sell the product to computer users ultimately killed the project.

Facing the termination of the investment funding that was tied to the $5 million agreement, Case and the other founders decided to sue Apple for breach of contract. Acknowledging their liability to Quantum, Apple agreed to pay $3 million to “tear up the contract.” Starting over with their new source of cash, Case and his partners restarted their company as America Online and they made an approach directly to consumers to sign up for their service.

This tale and others reinforces one of the key themes of Case’s book: Third Wave entrepreneurs will need to persevere through “the long slog” to success.

 

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The January 24, 2000 cover of Time magazine with Steve Case and Jerry Levin announcing the AOL-Time Warner merger.

The end of Steve Case’s relationship with AOL is also a lesson in the leadership skills required for Third Wave success. In a chapter entitled “Matter of Trust” (the longest of the book), Steve Case relives the story of the merger/acquisition of Time Warner with/by AOL. It is a cautionary tale of both the excesses of Wall Street valuations during the dot com boom and the crisis of traditional media companies in the face of Third Wave innovation.

Case says that while the combination of AOL with Time Warner in 2000—the largest corporate merger in history up to that point—made sense at the time, two months later the dot com bubble burst and the company lost eighty percent of its value within a year. This was followed by a series of leadership battles that proved there were deep seated feelings of “personal mistrust and lingering resentments” among top Time Warner executives over the business potential of the Internet and the up-start start-up called AOL.

Steve Case writes that, although the dot com crash was certainly a factor, “It came down to emotions and egos and, ultimately, the culture itself. That something with the potential to be the first trillion-dollar company could end up losing $200 billion in value should tell you just how important the people factor is. It doesn’t really matter what the plan is if you can’t get your people aligned around achieving the same objectives.”

What now?

For those of us that were in the traditional media business—i.e. print, television and radio—the word “disruption” hardly describes the impact of the Internet over the past three decades. When companies like AOL were getting started with their modems and dial-up connections, most of us were looking pretty good. We had little time or interest in the tacky little AOL “You’ve Got Mail” audio message. As we reluctantly embraced IBM, Apple and Microsoft as partners in our front office and production operations, we were later making smug remarks about the absurdity of eBay and Amazon as legitimate business ideas.

 

IoT is at the center of Case’s Third Wave of innovation.

IoT is at the center of Case’s Third Wave of innovation.

Steve Case’s book represents a timely warning to the enterprises and business leaders of today who similarly dismiss the notions of IoT. He points to Uber and Airbnb and shows that the hospitality and transportation industries are being right now turned on their sides by this new wave of information-enabled “sharing” businesses.

Actually, Case is an unlikely spokesman for the next wave of innovation having personally made out quite well (his net worth stands at $1.37 billion) despite the shipwreck that became AOL Time Warner. If he had been born twenty-five years later, Case could possibly have been another Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and rode the Second Wave of the Internet (Zuckerberg got his start in coding by hacking AOL Instant Messenger) over the ruins of the dot com bust.

But that was then and this is now. Case has decided to commit himself to investment in present day entrepreneurships through his Revolution Growth venture capital fund. His book is kind of a roadmap for those who want to learn from his experience and bravely launch into the Third Wave of the Internet and build start-ups of a new kind. As Alvin Toffler wrote in Future Shock, “If we do not learn from history, we shall be compelled to relive it. True. But if we do not change the future, we shall be compelled to endure it. And that could be worse.”

Winning Strategies:  How much is my business worth?

Winning Strategies: How much is my business worth?

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Recently, many of my clients have been asking me this question? I believe there are many reasons why they are asking. Here’s why I think they are concerned:

  • The owner or one of the partners is aging and they want to or need to retire.
  • The business has seen increases in sales and profits the past year or two which reversed the trends during the recession.
  • The fear that one or more of their top clients may leave due to price or go to someone with more capabilities.
  • The fear of losing a key employee.
  • The equipment is getting old and they need to upgrade. Many are afraid to make a long term financial commitment under the premise they will have more debt when  they want to sell.
  • The need to change their business model as customer demands change – making wrong choices could jeopardize their business so they would like to merge or sell to someone who they perceive has a rosier future.
  • Their workforce is aging. Work has shifted from offset to digital which means in some cases that pressmen are unable to have enough work for 40 hours per week.
  • Finding new profitable clients seems harder and harder and the risk of hiring new sales people who may fail is not an attractive option.
  • The perception that there is more of a demand and values may be rising as more and more printers are buying competitors as a strategy to grow.

If you can identify with any or all of the above comments, then you may want to find out how much your business is worth. Most agree that the overall business environment is better albeit no one knows how much longer it will last.

Now may be an ideal time to market your business. Buyers are looking for businesses with good clients and trained employees. Some buyers are not looking for another facility and want to tuck your business into theirs. In some instances a buyer may want to move their business into your plant or add volume to your shop and keep the location.

Buyers are also not looking for equipment unless you have new equipment or equipment that the buyer does not have. Sellers that have mailing, wide format, signage or packaging equipment are the most desired. So how much is your business worth? Here’s a guide for a few of the most common scenarios.

  1. A tuck-in – the largest value in a tuck-in is in the client base.
    Buyers are willing to pay for retained sales. They may offer some cash up front and likely to pay royalties or commissions for 2 to 5 years. Royalties can vary from 5% to 15% depending on cash paid up front, the number of payout years and the margin that the buyer will get from the acquired clients. Buyers will buy selected equipment. The seller will have to sell the rest either in an auction or advertise on-line. A good deal is where the seller and buyer share the risk of the retention of clients. Typically the buyer will guarantee some of the deal by paying cash, sign a note with the balance of the purchase price to be paid out based on retained sales.
  2. A merger – a true merger of two businesses can be an exit strategy for one of the parties or simply a method to consolidate the sales into one location. The overall profits go up with the reduction in expenses of operating two facilities. A larger merged company may be able offer more services to each company’s clients. The value will be based on a combination of the profits and sales that each party contributes to the merged company. A good merger should instantly create a combined company that has more value than each company would have as a standalone. The best merger candidates are companies that complement each other. We have seen many commercial printers merge with digital printers. Printers are also buying mailing companies or sign companies. Good mergers are ones that keep all or most of the equipment from both companies otherwise all redundant or older equipment will have to be sold.
Regulations Finally Issued

Regulations Finally Issued

By Bodman’s Workplace Law Practice

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After years of anticipation, on May 18, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued Final Regulations changing the minimum salary requirements for exempt salaried executive, administrative, professional, and computer employees. This is the first change in DOL Regulations since 2004 when the minimum exempt salary requirement increased from $250 per week to the current $455 per week. The goal of these new Final Regulations is (1) to allow more employees who are currently exempt – and do not receive overtime pay – to be paid overtime (one and one-half times an employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours after 40 hours of work in a workweek) and (2) to raise the pay of many employees that the employer wishes to maintain as exempt. Employers will be forced to make tough payroll decisions regarding who will remain exempt and how to compensate the newly non-exempt employees.

Employees must still meet the existing “duties” test applicable to an executive, administrative, professional, or computer employees. Under the Final Regulations, beginning on December 1, 2016, the minimum amount an employer must pay an exempt salaried employee increases:

  • To $913 per week (annually $47,476) for exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees.
  • To $134,004 per year for highly compensated employees, which also must include at least $913 per week paid on a salary or fee basis, as defined by the DOL Regulations.
  • To $913 per week (annually $47,476) for highly skilled exempt computer employees. These highly skilled computer employees may also be exempt if paid hourly at a minimum of $27.63 per hour (annually $57,470.40), which is unchanged from the current Regulations.

The salary levels will be indexed, with the minimum salary
level evaluated every three years beginning January 1, 2020, effectively guarantying raises for employees at or near the minimum salary level. No changes were made to the outside salesperson category or to the “duties” tests for the executive, administrative, professional and computer exemptions.

One element of the new Rule may benefit employers. Up to 10% of the exempt employee’s salary may be satisfied by the payment of “nondiscretionary bonuses, incentives, and commissions that are paid quarterly or more frequently. If by the last pay period of the quarter, the sum of the employee’s weekly salary plus nondiscretionary bonus, incentive, and commission payments received does not equal 13 times the [required] weekly salary,” the Final Regulations allow for a “catch-up” payment to meet the minimum requirements.

It is incumbent on all employers to remember that a salary under the DOL Regulations is more than just a “salary.” The Regulations define a “salary” as a predetermined amount of compensation paid each pay period with no reduction of pay because of variations of quality or quantity of an employee’s work. A bona fide sick pay policy is required. Deductions from “salary” are limited to those allowed by the DOL Regulations. Employers will be required to take action to meet these new challenges. To be ready for December 1, 2016 and beyond:

  1. Identify current exempt employees and their salaries;
  2. Determine the actual weekly hours that current exempt
    employees work and their projected future hours over 40 in a
    week after December 1, 2016;
  3. Determine which exempt employees currently earning
    less than $913 per week will be kept exempt and receive pay
    increases;
  4. Confirm that the DOL’s non-monetary salary requirements
    are met for the exempt employees;
  5. Ensure that the exempt employees meet the applicable
    “duties” test;
  6. Develop pay plans for the former exempt

Bodman can provide guidance on the new regulations and help your company meet compliance deadlines on
time and in a way it makes most sense for your organization. Contact Workplace Law Practice Group Leader
Maureen Rouse-Ayoub, client alert author Donald H. Scharg, one of the lawyers from the Workplace Law Group,
or your go-to Bodman attorney for more information.

Maureen Rouse-Ayoub
Chair, Workplace Law
Tel: 313-392-1058
Email: mrouse-ayoub@bodmanlaw.com

Donald H. Scharg
Member, Workplace Law
Tel: 248-743-6024
Email: dscharg@bodmanlaw.com

On the rise of mobile and the fall of flip books

On the rise of mobile and the fall of flip books

By Charles Groce, CEO of Pearl Street Consulting

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You may not have noticed, but March 2014 was a turning point in the history of content consumption and distribution. This was month in which mobile usage overtook desktop usage, the so called “mobile tipping point”. Two yeasr later, mobile continues to climb, with an estimated 1.9 billion global users of mobile devices compared to 1.7 billion desktop users.

This was a tipping point for publishing too, as content distributors needed to stop considering whether they should promote content over mobile and needed to start actually doing it.

Flip books, also known as eBooks or eZines, are a popular piece of software for the printing industry due to its ability to publish online quickly and without distruption to the well established print workflow. If you’re a publisher, you know the drill. Files come in, a PDF is put together, plates are made, and the job is printed. Then comes the part where the eZine is created. All your prepress tech has to do is upload the PDF to an eZine publishing platform and your magazine or other publication is online in 15 minutes.

It is certainly an axiom of publishing to make the consumption of content as convenient as possible for the reader. This is why we see billboards on our way to work, and not out in the middle of nowhere on some billboard farm.

Effectively content delivery over mobile requires a publisher consider the inescapable fact that mobile devices are small, and mobile screens have a limited number of pixels on which to display content. This means, while distributing textual and graphic information, content needs to be displayed more or less in a single column format, easily scrollable using only the reader’s thumb. No zooming or playing around with the interface should be required, since the mobile user may simply leave and find somewhere more convenient to consume this type of content, or they may simply not consume the content at all and move on to something else.

This is why flip books are poison for content being delivered over mobile devices. Flip books are laid out like a book or a magazine, which means in the abstract sense, content is already being distributed using a two column format (left page and right page). But then within each page, there are often multiple columns and complex layouts to convey information. These layouts are beautiful and part of the art of ink on paper. But they are an inconvenience for the mobile content consumer, who has to zoom and and move around the flip book to consume the content.

This is fine if you’re distributing a public annual report over the internet to a board of directors, but for any consumer you’re trying to convince to buy something, or prospective student you’re trying to encourage to sign up for a college program, the inconvenience of the format may run them off.

Before addressing the alternatives, let’s go over some of the statistics that show just how important the mobile internet is today to content distributors.

According to the Pew Research Center, as of October 2014, 91% of Americans have a smart phone. 63% of Americans who own a mobile use their mobile phone to browse the internet, which means 57% of Americans are mobile internet users. This number has doubled since 2009. 34% of mobile internet users use their phone as their primary internet device. This proportion is larger for the younger demographics, meaning that this proportion is guaranteed to continue to grow well into the future.

Publishers who ignore these figures do so at their own peril. We simply cannot ignore the implications for our industry. So now the question becomes: how do we get publication content online in such as a way as to effectively deliver content without adding much overhead to our established print-centric workflow? Flip books are not the answer, for the reasons outlined above. Although flip books do allow publishers to get content online easily and cheaply, their format for mobile web users discourages engagement with whatever call to action is being presented.

If you’re a printer, at best, you can hope your customers who are publishers do not understand this deficiency of the flip book format and are satisfied with the limited but nevertheless online and accessible everywhere flip book. But this doesn’t mean being a good partner. You should be providing solutions to problems, and should demonstrate your understanding of your customers end goals.

Publishers who want to put content online shoudl adopt a “content first/delivery channel neutral” online strategy. This means using a modern content management system, or CMS, which is used to store content in an online database and is designed to distribute content attractively to devices of any size: smart phone, net books, tablets, laptops, and large screen desktops. When a potential customer arrives at your site with their smart phone, the content is delivered in single column format. Later when they show their friends this great new product on their laptop, the content is delivered in multi column format. This is called “responsive design”.

Online marketing content that is delivered responsively see, one study has shown, 35% more engagement to the call to action than online marketing content which is not formatted for all devices. What you’re seeing is these figures are the problems of mobile content delivery I’ve described above. Web sites can suffer from the same formatting issues inherent in flip books. Responsive, device-conscious onlin content delivery methods are a market differentiator, and this means the eventual end of flip books and non-responsive websites alike.

About the author: Charles Groce is the CEO of Pearl Street Consulting, a Michigan-based IT, web, and software consultancy. Charles is also the owner/operator osforprint.com, an open source technology solutions provider for the printing industry.

PIM Member Profile: Walsworth Publishing Company

PIM Member Profile: Walsworth Publishing Company

Presence. Performance. Personalization.

By John Gumina

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These three words probably best describe Walsworth Publishing Company, this issue’s Printing Industry of Michigan “Member Profile.”

Along with its facility in St. Joseph, Michigan—acquired just five years ago—the Missouri-based Walsworth has continued to expand its operational presence throughout the U.S., and maintains an international reach as well.

Founded in Missouri in 1937 by Don Walsworth, the company is still family owned and specializes in printing yearbooks, catalogs, periodicals and books. It performs among the 30 largest printing companies in the U.S. overall, and is among the top 10 publications printers and top five book printers. Today, it employs some 1,250 people worldwide.

Walsworth is further distinguished by the fact it is the last privately-held printer of yearbooks among the Big Five, and it has more than 675 employees who have attained “Master Printer of America” status!

According to Tom Ashton, Sales Director, Eastern Region at Walsworth Print Group, at its core the company has a philosophy of placing the client first, and maintains a “big enough to help but small enough to care” approach.
It is this personalization, so to speak, which has kept the majority of clients working with Walsworth for fully 10 years or more.

The St. Joseph, Michigan facility offers a full-service print operation, from receipt of files to shipping out the door. “We have heatset web presses as well as sheetfed presses,” Ashton states. “We can stitch or perfect bind projects across the entire platform, or if sewing and case-binding are needed, rely on our Missouri plant. Following completion, we can ship to a destination, mail through our onsite U.S. Postal verification, co-mail, or hold in our warehouses for ongoing fulfillment and distribution.”The manufacturing operation at St. Joseph occupies 150,000 square feet in its own building. Administrative offices are located across the street in 9,000 square feet, and the Fulfillment Operation occupies 50,000 square feet of warehouse and office space in a 500,000 square foot building nearby.

Walsworth acquired IPC of St. Joseph five years ago from Journal Communications, Ashton points out. This was part of a strategic expansion of Walsworth’s platform, its scope of offerings, the markets it served and its product diversification. (IPC had operated in the St. Joseph region for decades prior to the acquisition, occupying a number of facilities.)

About 195 individuals work at the St. Joseph Walsworth facility today which most recently began implementing a new enterprise wide production system to streamline operations and improve efficiency and tracking.

Ashton states, “We have added several new presses and supporting operations, including platesetters and paper handling equipment. We continue to invest significantly in both our local Michigan operation and across our entire platform. Our annual investment easily exceeds $5,000,000 across our platform, as we seek to improve operations and grow our services. In addition to the pressroom equipment, we have invested significantly in our Integrated Solutions suite of services.” Shortly after Walsworth acquired IPC, Ashton joined the company.

“I am responsible for leading our Eastern Region sales team, selling our entire platform. The team is selling solutions applicable to the catalog, periodical and book markets in addition to ongoing fulfillment services and integrated digital solutions.” Ashton emphasizes “the vast majority” of Walsworth clients have been with the company for 10 years or more.

“We count our clients both in numbers and in longevity,” he adds, noting Walsworth prints many hundreds of focused publications, niche and specialty catalogs, and books of all kinds. But services go beyond this.

Ashton states: “We’ve been working with one long-time client, for example, in revising their website and their marketing strategy to incorporate different conversation streams and methodologies, their approach to new subscriber acquisition, as well as, the layout and design of their magazine.”

This has already resulted in more than an 11% increase in new subscriptions and well over a 200% increase in web traffic, he adds.

In an economy that appears to be growing, but still remains challenging, Ashton states Walsworth: “Continues to identify where we can have the greatest impact on the success of our clients and prospects. We focus our efforts on those activities. By refining our approach we can make our marketing and selling more effective, and negate the need to trim or eliminate.”

What about future plans?

Ashton notes Walsworth is continually investing in both traditional brick-and-mortar operations along with the supporting and complimentary services, such as its “Apps” and “Integrated Solutions” programs.

Walsworth Apps helps its clients to develop and deliver compelling content to readers wherever they are and on whatever devices they use – computer, tablet or smartphone. Ashton adds Walsworth Apps offer a rich content-viewing experience, interactive advertising opportunities and real-time analytic insights along with a new component which reviews, recommends and defines new revenue opportunities for the client.

“Integrated Solutions typically begin with a Digital Presence Assessment, so we can help the client stack rank where to invest time and effort to get the best return. For some, it means revamping the website or tweaking SEO, while for others, it means developing apps with responsive design and frequently updated content. One size doesn’t fit all: we tailor our digital efforts to compliment the traditional printed vehicle so each leverages and enhances the other.”

As a member of its local communities, Walsworth is proud to participate in activities and efforts to support the residents, Ashton points out. “We have been a pacesetter company for the United Way campaign in the past and continue to run an employee campaign each year,” he states. Walsworth’s presence in Michigan also goes beyond the local. “We are proud to partner with Susan G. Komen of Michigan for whom we provide in-kind printing services.”

Walsworth also participates in “green” activities. For example, all of the overhead lighting at its St. Joseph manufacturing operation has been replaced with energy efficient fixtures. “We maintain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifications for sustainable forest paper products,” Ashton says. “We also recycle 100% of our process waste paper. Additionally, our Sunday web press is a zero-emission press, meaning atmospheric exhaust from that press is water vapor only.”

An active Printing Industries of Michigan member, Walsworth views its membership as “an effective way for us to connect with our colleagues in the industry,” Ashton states. “It helps our organization locate potential production partners, both for specialty applications and overflow resources but also for presenting Walsworth capabilities to other members.”

PIM also serves Walsworth as a method of information consolidation and distribution, both internally and across its local industry, Ashton adds.

For more information about Walsworth, visit its website at walsworth.com, or call Tom Ashton at 269.428.1200. You can also email them either through the website, or through thomas. ashton@walsworth.com

On the Current State of Web-to-Print

On the Current State of Web-to-Print

Why It’s Important and Why Open Source

By Charles Groce, CEO of Pearl Street Consulting

“retirement”

A few years back I had the opportunity to evaluate various “web-to-print” solutions (or W2P) from several of the leading software vendors. Although all of the W2P systems evaluated technically did what they were supposed to do, there were some drawbacks which ultimately prevented our commercial printing company from moving forward on the decision to sell print (efficiently) online.

The largest of these, of course, was cost, including deployment, licensing, hosting, and support. The cost of these systems and the connection to a guaranteed benefit on the bottom line was simply not clear. It was a difficult decision: sink tens of thousands of dollars into licensing for an MIS-integrated web-to-print portal, with at least eventual “hands free” order placement to plate-making capabilities; or do it the old fashion way, and use our website as corporate “brochureware”, and have staff inserted at every touchpoint in the production process, from design through billing.

That was 2009 and a lot has happened in the industry since then. Today, in 2016, every printing company needs to be able to satisfy the needs of the “modern shopper”. Like it or not, Amazon and other eCommerce providers have changed the way people think about how they shop, and this applies to print buyers as well. Consumers want to be able to make their own (informed) decisions and have different expectations than they used to have. As web entrepreneurs, our job is to not only give them the tools to actually place their order but also give them the information needed to make an informed decision, albeit with information that provides a marketing influence that “leans” in our direction.

Think of your web-to-print portal as a salesperson not drawing a salary or commission. It’s not for every customer, but it will be appealing to some. Moreover, a web-to-print portal can be branded differently than your company. And if you base your web-to-print portal on open source software, you can avoid additional licensing costs to duplicate it under your corporate identity or under as many brands as you want. This allows you to sell print online not only to a general audience, i.e. everyone, with a general one-size-fits-all marketing message along the lines of “we’re your trusted partner”, but to tailor to specific markets: academic, religious, manufacturing, governmental, etc., without significant overhead since there aren’t additional licensing costs and the code can simply be copied to a new web portal.

Open Source and Web-to-Print

What is the current state of open source web-to-print? This is a very large topic. I’m not in a position to evaluate every solution that arises in this continuously evolving software landscape, but I thought it might be useful to summare a couple of the leading web-to-print products and website plugins that the major open source platforms. None of these are going to integrate with your print MIS system right out-of-the-box, although all of them will integrate with well-established accounting systems like Quickbooks. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weigh the benefits of such systems.

Two popular open source eCommerce platforms I’m going to write about are WordPress (Woocommerce) and Magento, which is owned by a subsidiary of eBay (eBay bought the company behind Magento in 2010, seeing a rising competitive threat from open source eCommerce). So I’m going to restrict my list to these platforms, and I’ll write a little bit about the pros and cons of each over the other. Both platforms are, of course, open source and come with zero dollars in licensing fees. Each platform could be downloaded, installed, and customer-facing today for free.

WordPress

Woocommerce is perfect if your shop doesn’t contain a large number of products, and requires a great presentation. I like to think of WordPress as the platform that’s perfect for web designers. It’s well suited to web designers because the platform is easy to update in terms of its theme and design.

Magento

Magento on the other hand is, in my opinion, the better platform for eCommerce shops with large numbers of products and product categories. Magento is written by using a more complicated web framework called MVC (Model-Viewer-Controller) and can be more difficult for non-technical personnel to get their head around. This is why it lags a bit in the design department, although the trade off over WordPress/Woocommerce are significant productivity enhancements (like automated emails, integrated newsletter management and a more flexible framework for extensibility).

Both platforms have multiple APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and can be integrated with just about anything, including your MIS. In short, my recommendation is for Woocommerce if you don’t have a large number of products or product configurations (don’t confuse this with run quantity) and Magento if you have a large number of product or product configurations.

Examples of Open Source W2P

Now on to some examples of the leading web-to-print solutions available on each platform. Just to clarify, web-to- print solutions are a subset of digital storefront solutions (DSF). DSF is really just another name for eCommerce, something the open source community mastered long ago (with respect to the short history of the internet). “Web-to-print” differs from standard DSF in that it allows for real-time product previews and at least has the capability for some amount of automation through API access. I’m going to restrict my list to the ordering process, including real time previewing.

uDraw on WooCommerce

uDraw is a powerful, easy-to-use web-to-print plugin that runs under WordPress/Woocommerce using a modern HTML5 framework (no Java plugins or Flash to deal with). It supports a PDF workflow and allows for in-browser real time editing and uploading. Your users can create brochures (with folding), business cards, mousepads, personalized bags, and more right from within the web browser. It’s mobile friendly and allows for the building of custom products. The ordering processing products are a layered PDF file that can be tweaked by your prepress as needed. WordPress/Woocommerce are both, of course, free to use.

uDraw requires a $500 setup fee and costs around $99/month for a subscription to the service. There is a free version of the plugin available so you can test it out (even do a little market testing). Give it a try by visiting the URL http://bit.ly/1M21chu.

PrintScience on Magento

PrintScience is a fantastic plugin that integrates with the Magento platform. Templates are created using Adobe Acrobat Pro and the PDFLib plugin, allowing VDP fields to be inserted directly into your PDF. In additional to the standard features listed above with uDraw, PrintScience allows your customers to download realtime generated PDF previews of their templates (with watermarking).

PrintScience has no setup fee, and costs $9.99 a month to get started. Give PrintScience a try by visiting the URL http://bit.ly/24ZSlTZ

Open Source Offers Many Flavors

There are many other options for open source, including ZetaPrints which runs on Magento, but utilizes Corel Draw (you read that right) for templating which starts at $1.70 per order, and a nice solution called“DesignnBuy”which also runs on Magento that starts at around $7000, far less than the price tag on many of the “industry standard” solutions. That these solutions run on open source platforms means they have the added advantage of being highly flexible and integrable with other platforms, such as MIS platforms, prepress systems, and more.

Whichever platform you decide to go with, definitely start selling print online if you’re not already doing it. Appealing to modern shopping expectations is sure to increasingly become a market differentiator between the old schools and the new schools of print.

About the Author: Charles Groce is the CEO of Pearl Street Consulting, a Michigan-based IT, web, and software consultancy. Charles is also the owner/operator osforprint.com, an open source technology solutions provider for the printing industry.

Save Yourself!

Save Yourself!

5 Things Every Small Business Can Do

By Phyllis Borzi, U.S. Department of Labor Blog

“retirement”

John knows he has been able to attract and keep talented staff because his winery offers a retirement plan. Tim credits the 401(k) plan at the Dairy Queen he manages with motivating employees to stay with the company long-term – which translates into more savings for the owner. For John and Tim – and for small businesses across the country – retirement plans that help their employees prepare for the future are having real benefits for their businesses today.

Saving for retirement is easier than many small business owners think. There are a number of options available to help you and your employees save; and what’s more, they also provide tax advantages to both your business and your employees. As part of America Saves Week, we’re reaching out to make small businesses aware of these options and provide information to help in choosing, setting up and operating a retirement plan.

Here are five steps every small business can take toward a secure retirement:

1. Explore the Retirement Plan Options

There are many retirement plan options available, including Individual Retirement Arrangement -based plans such as Payroll Deduction IRAs, SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined contribution plans like the 401(k) plan. In addition, myRA is a simple, safe and affordable way to help your employees start saving. Learn more about each option and what is involved in operating the plan before choosing the option that’s best for your needs.

2. Determine What Features You Want for Your Plan

Consider your needs as a business owner. Review the features of each option to see which best meets your needs. For example, do you want flexibility in employee and employer contributions? What are the pros and cons? The department has publications and tools to help you compare the options.

3. Assess Your Retirement Needs

Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you will need 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your current standard of living after you stop working. How much will you need for a secure retirement? We’ve got tools to help you save.

4. Choose a Plan

Review and compare the options to find the one that best meets your needs. You may want assistance from a retirement plan professional or adviser who is legally required to act in your best interest. Or you can contact us if you have questions.

5. Get Started, Now!

The best time to start saving is right now. We have information to help you set up your plan. And once your plan is in operation, we have publications and tools to help.

You can view our video featuring small business owners and their employees and accountants discussing their consideration and selection of a retirement saving solution by visiting YouTube and searching for the video entitled “Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business.”

Choosing a retirement savings plan is the first important step towards saving for a secure future. America Saves Week is a great time to get started.

About the Author: Phyllis C. Borzi is the assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security. Her blog was published on http://blog.dol.gov.

Print Books, E-Books and the E-Paper Chase

Print Books, E-Books and the E-Paper Chase

By Kevin R. Donley • kevin@multimediaman.org

“amazon

Last November Amazon opened its first retail book store in Seattle near the campus of the University of Washington. More than two decades after it pioneered online book sales—and initiated the e-commerce disruption of the retail industry— the $550 billion company seemed to be taking a step backward with its “brick and mortar” Amazon Books.
However, Amazon launched its store concept with a nod to traditional consumer shopping habits, i.e. the ability to “kick the tires.” Amazon knows very well that many customers like to browse the shelves in bookstores and fiddle with electronic gadgets like the Kindle, Fire TV and Echo before they make buying decisions.

So far, the Seattle book store has been successful and Amazon has plans to open more locations. Some unique features of the Amazon.com buying experience have been extended to the book store. Customer star ratings and reviews are posted near book displays; shoppers are encouraged to use the Amazon app and scan bar codes to check prices.

Amazon’s book store initiative was also possibly motivated by the persistence and strength of the print book market. Despite the rapid rise of e-books, print books have shown a resurgence of late. Following a sales decline of 15 million print books in 2013 to just above 500 million units, the past two years have seen an increase to 560 million in 2014 and 570 million in 2015. Meanwhile, the American Booksellers Association reported a substantial increase in independent bookstores over the past five years (1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations in 2010).

Print Books and E-Books

The ratio of e-book to print book sales appears to have leveled off at around 1 to 3. This relationship supports recent public perception surveys and learning studies that show the reading experience and information retention properties of print books are superior to that of e-books.

The reasons for the recent uptick in print sales and the slowing of e-book expansion are complex. Changes in the overall economy, adjustments to bookstore inventory from digital print technologies and the acclimation of consumers to the differences between the two media platforms have created a dynamic and rapidly shifting landscape.

As many analysts have insisted, it is difficult to make any hard and fast predictions about future trends of either segment of the book market. However, two things are clear: (1) the printed book will undergo little further evolution and (2) the e-book is headed for rapid and dramatic innovation.

Amazon launched the e-book revolution in 2007 with the first Kindle device. Although digital books were previously available in various computer file formats and media types like CD-ROMs for decades, e-books connected with Amazon’s Kindle took off in popularity beginning in 2008. The most important technical innovation of the Kindle—and a major factor in its success— was the implementation of the e-paper display.

Distinct from backlit LCD displays on most mobile devices and personal computers, e-paper displays are designed to mimic the appearance of ink on paper. Another important difference is that the energy requirements of e-paper devices are significantly lower than LCD-based systems. Even in later models that offer automatic back lighting for low-light reading conditions, e-paper devices will run for weeks on a single charge while most LCD systems require a recharge in less than 24-hours.

Nick Sheridon and Gyricon

The theory behind the Kindle’s ink-on-paper emulation was originated in the 1970s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California by Nick Sheridon. Sheridon developed his concepts while working to overcome limitations with the displays of the Xerox Alto, the first desktop computer. The early monitors could only be viewed in darkened office environments because of insufficient brightness and contrast.

Sheridon sought to develop a display that could match the contrast and readability of black ink on white paper. Along with his team of engineers at Xerox, Sheridon developed Gyricon, a substrate with thousands of microscopic plastic beads—each of which were half black and half white—suspended in a thin and transparent silicon sheet. Changes in voltage polarity caused either the white or black side of the beads to rotate up and display images and text without backlighting or special ambient light conditions.

After Xerox cancelled the Alto project in the early 1980s, Sheridon took his Gyricon technology in a new direction. By the late 1980s, he was working on methods to manufacture a new digital display system as part of the “paperless office.” As Sheridon explained later, “There was a need for a paper-like electronic display— e-paper! It needed to have as many paper properties as possible, because ink on paper is the ‘perfect display.’”

In 2000, Gyricon LLC was founded as a subsidiary of Xerox to develop commercially viable e-paper products. The startup opened manufacturing facilities in Ann Arbor, Michigan and developed several products including e-signage that utilized Wi-Fi networking to remotely update messaging. Unfortunately, Xerox shut down the entity in 2005 due to financial problems.

Among the challenges Gyricon faced were making a truly paper-like material that had sufficient contrast and resolution while keeping manufacturing costs low. Sheridan maintained that e-paper displays would only be viable economically if units were sold for less than $100 so that “nearly everyone could have one.”

As Sheridon explained in a 2009 interview:
“The holy grail of e-paper will be embodied as a cylindrical tube, about 1 centimeter in diameter and 15 to 20 centimeters long, that a person can comfortably carry in his or her pocket. The tube will contain a tightly rolled sheet of e-paper that can be spooled out of a slit in the tube as a flat sheet, for reading, and stored again at the touch of a button. Information will be downloaded—there will be simple user interface—from an overhead satellite, a cell phone network, or an internal memory chip.”

E Ink

By the 1990s competitors began entering the e-paper market. E Ink, founded in 1998 by a group of scientists and engineers from MIT’s Media Lab including Russ Wilcox, developed a concept similar to Sheridon’s. Instead of using rotating beads with white and black hemispheres, E Ink introduced a method of suspending microencapsulated cells filled with both black and white particles in a thin transparent film. Electrical charges to the film caused the black or white particles to rise to the top of the microcapsules and create the appearance of a printed page.

E Ink’s e-paper technology was initially implemented by Sony in 2004 in the first commercially available e-reader called LIBRIe. In 2006, Motorola integrated an E Ink display in its F3 cellular phone. A year later, Amazon included E Ink’s 6-inch display in the first Amazon Kindle which became by far the most popular device of its kind.

Subsequent generations of Kindle devices have integrated E Ink displays with progressively improved contrast, resolution and energy consumption. By 2011, the third generation Kindle included touch screen capability (the original Kindle had an integrated hardware keyboard for input).

The current edition of the Kindle Paperwhite (3rd Generation) combines back lighting and a touch interface with E Ink Carta technology and a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. Many other e-readers such as the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, the Onyx Boox and the PocketBook also use E Ink products for their displays.

Historical Parallel

The quest to replicate, as closely as possible in electronic form, the appearance of ink on paper is logical enough. In the absence of a practical and culturally established form, the new media naturally strives to emulate that which came before it. This process is reminiscent of the evolution of the first printed books. For many decades, print carried over the characteristics of the books that were hand-copied by scribes.

It is well-known that Gutenberg’s “mechanized handwriting” invention (1440-50) sought to imitate the best works of the Medieval monks. The Gutenberg Bible, for instance, has two columns of print text while everything else about the volume —paper, size, ornamental drop caps, illustrations, gold leaf accents, binding, etc.—required techniques that preceded the invention of printing. Thus, the initial impact of Gutenberg’s system was an increase in the productivity of book duplication and the displacement of scribes; it would take some time for the implications of the new process to work its way through the function, form and content of books.

More than a half century later—following the spread of Gutenberg’s invention to the rest of Europe—the book began to evolve dramatically and take on attributes specific to printing and other changes taking place in society. For example, by the first decade of the 1500s, books were no longer stationary objects to be read in exclusive libraries and reading rooms of the privileged few. As their cost dropped, editions became more plentiful and literacy expanded, books were being read everywhere and by everybody.

By the middle 1500s, both the form and content of books became transformed. To facilitate their newfound portability, the size of books fell from the folio (14.5” x 20”) to the octavo the octavo dimension (7”x 10.5”).

By the beginning of the next century, popular literature—the first European novel is widely recognized as Cervantes’ Don Quixote of 1605—supplanted verse and classic texts. New forms of print media developed such as chapbooks, broadsheets and newspapers.

Next Generation E-Paper

It seems clear that the dominance of LCD displays on computers, mobile and handheld devices is a factor in the persistent affinity of the public for print books. Much of the technology investment and advancement of the past decade—coming from companies such as Apple Computer—has been committed to computer miniaturization and mobility, not the transition from print to electronic media. While first decade e-readers have made important strides, most e-books are still being read on devices that are visually distant from print books, impeding a more substantial migration to the new media.

Additionally, most current e-paper devices have many unpaper like characteristics such as relatively small size, inflexibility, limited bit-depth and the inability to write on them. All current model e-paper Kindles, for example, are limited to 6-inch displays with 16 grey levels beneath a heavy and fragile layer of glass and no support for handwriting.

The Sony Digital Paper System (DPT-S1) is based on E Ink’s Mobius e-paper display technology:
13.3” format, flexible and supports stylus handwriting (pictured right).

A new generation of e-paper systems is now being developed that overcome many of these limitations. In 2014, Sony released its Digital Paper System (DPT- S1) that is a letter-size e-reader and e-notebook (for $1,100 at launch and currently selling for $799). The DPT-S1 is based on E Ink’s Mobius display, a 13.3” thin film transistor (TFT) platform that is flexible and can accept handwriting from a stylus.

Since it does not have any glass, the new Sony device weighs 12.6 oz or about half of a similar LCD-based tablet. With the addition of stylus-based handwriting capability, the device functions like an electronic notepad and, meanwhile, notes can be written in the margins of e-books and other electronic documents.

These advancements and others show that e-paper is positioned for a renewed surge into things that have yet to be conceived. Once a flat surface can be curved or even folded and then made to transform itself into any image—including a color image—at any time and at very low cost and very low energy consumption, then many things are possible like e-wall paper, e-wrapping paper, e-milk cartons and e-price tags. The possibilities are enormous.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance

BCBSM has individual health insurance plans available to PIM members. Association Benefits Company, an authorized independent agency with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is here to help you take care of your families and your employees. Call them today to discuss the individual and group options available to you. They work with all agents!

Description for Individual Coverage:

Introducing MyBlueSM– Individual Coverage direct with BCBSM

Printing Industries of Michigan now offers new BCBSM health care plans for individuals and families at all stages of life. Whether you’re single, a recent college graduate, self-employed, starting a family, or considering early retirement, BCBSM has a plan to meet your needs and budget. Click here for eligibility, review plan options and to enroll on line!

Description for Group Coverage:

Employers providing health insurance for employees

Printing Industries of Michigan now offers new BCBSM health care plans for individuals and families at all stages of life. Whether you’re single, a recent college graduate, self-employed, starting a family, or considering early retirement, BCBSM has a plan to meet your needs and budget. Click here to get started with our BCBSM/BCN Administrator!

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Annual sales volume Monthly Membership Dues
Under $100,000 $25
$100,001 – $200,000 $25
$200,001 – $250,000 $25
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$300,001 – $350,000 $30
$350,001 – $400,000 $35
$400,001 – $450,000 $40
$450,001 – $500,000 $45
$500,001 – $550,000 $50
$550,001 – $600,000 $55
$600,001 – $650,000 $60
$650,001 – $700,000 $65
$700,001 – $750,000 $70
$750,001 – $800,000 $75
$800,001 – $850,000 $80
$850,001 – $900,000 $85
$900,001 – $950,000 $90
$950,001 – $1,000,000 $95
$1,000,001 – $1,500,000 $105
$1,500,001 – $2,000,000 $115
$2,000,001 – $2,500,000 $125
$2,500,001 – $3,000,000 $135
$3,000,001 – $3,500,000 $145
$3,500,001 – $4,000,000 $160
$4,000,001 – $5,000,000 $185
$5,000,001 – $6,000,000 $195
$6,000,001 – $7,000,000 $210
$7,000,001 – $8,000,000 $230
$8,000,001 – $9,000,000 $260
$9,000,001 – $10,000,000 $280
$10,000,001 – $11,000,000 $300
$11,000,001 – $13,000,000 $315
$13,000,001 – $15,000,000 $340
$15,000,001 – $17,000,000 $365
$17,000,001 and over $390
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