A new Gutenberg Bible and other musings

Print 18 and new association cause for good news 

Let me ruminate on a few things this time out. First up, how would you like a reproduction of the book that started this industry? 

Taschen, a Cologne-based publisher of fat, luscious, beautiful books that celebrate design, photography, fashion and other artistic endeavours, this summer released a facsimile of one of the Gutenberg Bibles, specifically the Göttingen Library edition, one of the few surviving complete vellum Latin originals. The work is listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World program. At a hefty 1,282 pages, this modern-day printing masterpiece looks just like the original, created in the 15th century. It comes with a complementary volume by Stephan Füssel, Gutenberg-Chair at Mainz University, introducing Gutenberg, the history of his invention, and its transformative influence on subsequent centuries. You can order a copy from the Taschen website for a mere $150. 

Taschen’s facsimile of one of the few surviving Gutenberg Bibles.
Taschen’s facsimile of one of the few surviving Gutenberg Bibles.

Every industry needs an association

Early fall brought the announcement that CPIA—Canadian Printing Industries Association for those who may have forgotten—was relaunching with a new membership structure and a re-invigorated mandate to unify key stakeholders across Canada, provide a national voice and platform for the graphic arts industry, and to be the connection point for regional associations, suppliers, and post-secondary programs.

This is welcome news for the industry. Kudos go out to Richard Kouwenhoven, president of Hemlock Printers, in Vancouver, for taking a primary role in resuscitating CPIA, and to the other board members who have worked voluntarily over the past several months to make this happen. Kouwenhoven will serve as chair of the board for the fledgling association. The initiative is still in its infancy and much work remains to done. Printers have to be sold on the idea and they have to pony up and pay the membership fees.

The previous iteration of CPIA went dormant a few years ago, and leaving all politics-related issues aside, this industry has not been well served by functioning without a national voice. I have always believed that there was much to be gained by having a strong national body that met certain needs, delivered essential programs, gave the industry a unified voice, and encouraged community building. Many printers operate in silos and most of the leading lights in this industry never come together. Consequently the collective voice is seldom heard. Plus, I’m a big proponent of the theory that an industry that bitches together stays together. Because bitching – about employees, the government, demanding customers, etc., eventually—usually—leads to productive discussion and outcomes.

I don’t know what programs the new body means to deliver, or how it will deliver them, so this isn’t a plug that you must embrace the new CPIA. But it is a plug that you take some time, learn about its intent, and listen with an open mind to what the board has to say when you’re approached. Maybe even share your concerns and suggestions. You can start at cpia-aci.ca

Print 18 delivers plenty for commercial printers

There was much apprehension about heading into Print 18 this year. The event, formerly known as Graph Expo, has taken a few punches in recent years. Several legacy exhibitors have quit the show, and now it’s poised for new competition from Printing United, a new initiative between SGIA and NAPCO, publishers of Printing Impressions in the US. 

This year’s iteration was definitely a smaller affair, but anyone engaged in commercial print would have found much of interest there. Mostly, the conversation of equipment has moved away from speeds and feed, toward applications and features that actually add more punch and more value to what is being printed. There was a plethora of new inks, substrates, specialty finishing, special effects, and services to be found in the booths. Innovations in services, online resources, and automation, in all its guises, were there. 

I don’t know how the tradeshow market will develop south of the border. Perhaps one show will disappear, and there will be consolidation. But I did come away from Print 18 thinking that it, and the commercial segment of the industry, are not the heavy hitters they once were, but there just might be significant life left there.