Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coming full circle

Well, kind of coming full circle.

When I started my job at Rogers I was excited to enter the world of consumer magazine publishing.  I had worked in custom publishing for two years and it was great but I wanted to see how the rest of the magazine world worked.  (And I have no interest in trade magazines so I don't feel a need to ever work on that side of things.)  Let me tell you, consumer magazine publishing is AMAZING.  In Production, we do these neat things called schedules.  I like making schedules.  They represent order and timeliness and structure and I like that (at least in my work environment - please never look in my bedroom).  In consumer publishing, a crazy thing happens: schedules are followed!  Dates are met!  Things happen on time!  It's the craziest thing and I love it.  I really, truly love it.

But consumer magazines can meet schedules because they are driven by the internal magazine team.  We create the content, we design the pages, we approve everything.  It's pretty great and I love working on consumer books; the fact that I get to work on Chatelaine makes things all the better.  But the entire time I've worked at Rogers I've also worked on a custom publication for Rogers Wireless and I'll soon be taking on another custom book.

And this is where I come full circle.  Not only am I back to my custom roots, but the magazine I'll be taking on is Air Miles, which was published by Redwood, back when I worked at Redwood.  Even though I would rather stick with the consumer side of things (scheduled MET!) custom publishing is growing and it will provide me with a better chance to move up in the world, which is really what we all want in our careers.  No one wants to toil away in an entry-level position for 40 years.

So here I am, back in the custom saddle.  It's not that custom publishing is THAT bad; it's just that it's more of a what-if?/if-then type of system.  For example, "What if we provide files to you whenever we feel like it, because that's the way we roll?"  Answer: "If you supply them whenever you want then I will punch you in the neck but still get them printed and mailed on time because I'm a production rock star."

But custom publishing keeps me on my toes and has much more variety than what I've encountered in consumer publishing.  I really don't care if my consumer book wants to do a cover flap (yawn) but when my custom books want to explore variable data printing and lenticular printing and direct-mail packages and laminated inserts, well that's the stuff I live for!  You need FSC paper?  I'm on it!  You want to do a perforation?  No problem!  You need to know incremental postage costs?  For sure!  You want a Z-fold cover with a cover flap?  Absolutely!

Stuff like that is better than chocolate.

So maybe my schedules won't be met, maybe waiting for approvals will make me want to pull out my hair, maybe asking the printer for extensions will become tedious, but it always works out in the end.  And where my position and duties with Chatelaine haven't changed much and won't change much, the custom side of things will keep things interesting.  I'll just end up drinking more.

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