Don't stop believing

December 1, 2007

Johnson’s World by Steve Johnson

Did you ever notice that if Ben Franklin, the patron saint of printing, wasn't bald and had sported a long beard in his old age, he would have been a dead ringer for St. Nicholas, the patron saint of this holiday season? I'm not sure what that means, but in the spirit of the holidays, I am sharing my printing industry wish list, in the form of an open letter to Santa.

Dear Santa Claus

I'm writing you this letter as I always do, with ink and paper. You don't seem to have your own blog or MySpace page yet.

How are things at the North Pole? Here in “Johnson's World,” we still live by our motto: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For so long, my top Christmas request was for a standard file format that would be accepted by both content creators and print providers. Santa, I can't thank you enough for bringing us the PDF format and all the cool tweaks and addins for PDF that you keep bringing each year.

Now Microsoft's competing XPS format has been released. Please bring us all understanding, so that we can explain it to our customers. Help us to keep an open mind, and not to lose our shirts in the prepress department.

While you are handing out the understanding, Santa, please bring all of us in the printing business a double dose, so we can also figure out the new Pantone Goe color matching system.

Actually, I hear from the developers that both Microsoft's XPS format and Pantone's Goe color system are so easy, a child can use them. I'm not worried about children, so please bring them the usual toys, games, dolls and sports equipment.

Save the understanding for the content creators; they are the ones who frighten me when new tools and formats are introduced.

I'll ask for enlightenment, too. Not for myself, but for the digital press manufacturers who keep asking me why I don't sell longer run-length digital print work. Help them to realize that they aren't making copiers any more, and that digital will never supplant offset as long as digital equipment makers insist on maintaining their pay-per-click gravy train.

I want to thank you for all the new hightech digital equipment you bring me every year. At least, I assume you are the one who brings it, Santa. Every year, I return to work on the day after Christmas to find the latest and greatest stuff is being installed in our plant. Say, Santa, do you have end-of-year sales quotas to make?

Perhaps this year you could skip the heavy iron and the fancy software and, instead, go halves with Uncle Sam to bring us all more realistic deprecation schedules for this wonderful stuff that goes obsolete faster than a reindeer can fly.

Now that I've covered my friends in the printing industry, I'll move on to the general public.

Is that sleigh FAA approved?

I really envy you with your miniature sleigh and those tiny eight reindeer. You get where you are going and you are always on time.

For the rest of us, can you make the airlines work again? We used to tease Romano about refusing to fly. He still takes his car, Amtrak and transAtlantic liners, but now he arrives before I do!

I can fly from Chicago to New York in less than two hours, but I have to add two more hours for waiting at O'Hare and another two hours to circle LaGuardia.

Santa, can you bring me a reliable spam filter for my email? One that will eliminate the ads for libido enhancers, counterfeit watches and offshore gambling? Maybe it could also filter out ads for one thousand free business cards and obsolete used printing equipment, but still let my clients get through to me. If this is just too difficult, I understand. Bring something easier, like peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

I've tried to be considerate of my fellow man. Thus far, I've only asked for things that will benefit all humanity. Now I cannot resist asking for something selfish. Do you think that perhaps you could bring me a new picture for AMERICAN PRINTER to use in this column each month?

One word of caution, Santa: Our digital print shop is so clean and green that we don't have any chimneys for you to slide down. Do you think you can squeeze in through the vent for the perfect binders? We'll turn off the glue pots for the holiday weekend so you don't get stuck.

Be sure to stop by the lunchroom; we always have plenty of leftovers from the holiday potluck. Help yourself.