Saturday, April 4, 2009

Xerox Q4 Conference Call

You can read the full transcript at Seeking Alpha. Since, I'm just a blogger with a big piece of my little IRA in Xerox, please take the following comments and questions in that context:

1. We seem to have lots of currency risks.
2. Color is nice, but black and white is still the bulk of the business. Given that the Nuvera is arguably the best machine on the market, what's the plan?
3. If 70% of the revenue comes from post sale, does 70% of the costs go to increasing post sales in an environment where box sales are going to be slow for a couple of quarters?
4. How come SG&A is going up. I keep reading about people getting fired, but WalMart SG&A Was 16+% last quarter. Meanwhile, our SG&A went up, not down?
5. How come Oce made a profit and we couldn't?
6. Has there been any discussion of spinning off divisions that don't contribute to post sales revenue?

Following are some quotes, taken out of context from the transcript:
The impact on earnings was largely due to the strengthening of the Yen and deteriorating developing market economies particularly in Russia and Eastern Europe which started in the later part of the quarter.

As you all know, more than 70% of our revenue comes from our post sale.

Our growing services business also flows through the post sales. With a value proposition that helps customers reduce costs we are getting more and more interest in our outsourcing and other document services.

Wholesale revenue was down 8% or 3% in constant currency. Again, this was largely due to distributors holding lower supply inventory levels as they prioritize cash at the end of the year.

Equipment sale revenue declined 15% or 11% in constant currency, a reflection of weakened economies all around the world with especially significant decline in key development markets. I’ll talk more about this in a moment.

Selling, administrative and general expenses were 25.2% of revenue, up about a point from the fourth quarter of 2007 as we maintained our sales coverage investments to continue building on our industry leadership.

SAG declined $84 million including $68 million beneficial impact of currency.

Digital machines in the field MIF and pages continue to grow 6% and 1% respectively driven by color machines in the field up 33% and color pages up 24%.

The pressure on digital pages has been in black and white and we did see a decline in fourth quarter. The pressure on digital pages has been in black and white as I said and in addition the decline in DMO supplies had a negative effect on how we calculate their pages and this should improve in the future.

Here's why textbooks are going to fall in NYC

NY1 | 24 Hour Local News | Top Stories | DOE Contracts A Binding Issue For Business Owners:
"The Department's contracting process was the subject of a City Council committee Wednesday. DOE officials testified they've already saved $17 million by doing business with the big companies.

'Our role here is to get the best price and the best quality for the schools,' said Department of Education Board Member Photeine Anagnostopoulos.

But Attanasio argues schools will not be receiving the best quality because the out of town suppliers are not in tune with the needs of city students.

'What we really did was create materials for New York. This is where I live. This is where I was born and raised. These are the communities I'm involved in,' said Attanasio.

Attanasio says she's lost nearly 25 percent of business and had to lay off two employees since the rules changed.

As Attanasio's business was cut, she was forced to cut some of her office space by nearly a third.

At the hearing, City Council member Letitia James says a small supplier in her Brooklyn neighborhood is being forced to shut down."
Somebody might want to give a call to either Attanasio or City Council member Letitia James. I bet that if the pitch was "I can show you a way to compete with the big guys", either one would take the call.

Then you follow up with wikinewspapers to completely replace textbooks. It takes them out of competition with the textbook publishers, and the whole thing comes crashing down.

Lots of clicks. Lots of very nice press. Increase the value of the brand, get great press, sell a box or repurpose a box that is already there. And clicks forever!

Still one more Printernet Publishing Opportunity

Alison Flood on,
the YouTube for books
| Books | The Guardian:
"More than 50,000 new documents a day are uploaded to Californian website, which has 50 million users keen to share an eclectic mix of material: recipes, manuals, how-to guides, puzzles and novels. From the contemporary (Ken Follett and Jeffrey Archer), to the classic (Jane Austen and Dostoyevsky), if you want to read it, you'll probably find it on"

Anyone else see the opportunity?

take a look at and then read the last paragraph.
News: Farewell to the Printed Monograph - Inside Higher Ed: "Within two years, press officials expect well over 50 of the 60-plus monographs that the press publishes each year -- currently in book form -- to be released only in digital editions. Readers will still be able to use print-on-demand systems to produce versions that can be held in their hands, but the press will consider the digital monograph the norm. Many university presses are experimenting with digital publishing, but the Michigan announcement may be the most dramatic to date by a major university press.The University of Missouri Press and the State University of New York Press both have announced layoffs in recent months, while Utah State University Press is facing the possibility of a complete elimination of university support.

Michigan officials say that their move reflects a belief that it's time to stop trying to make the old economics of scholarly publishing work. "I have been increasingly convinced that the business model based on printed monograph was not merely failing but broken," said Phil Pochoda, director of the Michigan press. "Why try to fight your way through this? Why try to remain in territory you know is doomed? Scholarly presses will be primarily digital in a decade. Why not seize the opportunity to do it now?"

While Pochoda acknowledged that Michigan risks offending a few authors and readers not ready for the switch, he said there is a huge upside to making the move now.

The paragraph that reveals the opportunity starts with "While Pochada . . . "
Meanwhile, ff you happen to be interested in textbooks, here's the good part:
. . . the University of Michigan Press is a major publisher of textbooks in English as a second language, and those publications are expected to continue in print format.
I'm thinking that since textbooks live in the dog food market, they still make a nice profit.

What was old, is new

PacBlue Digital Imaging is old. PacBlue Printing is new.

Digital blablablabla is old.
Print is the next big thing.
PacBlue Rolls Out New Brand and Website - Printing Industry News from WhatTheyThink: "PacBlue Printing (formerly doing business as PacBlue Digital Imaging, Inc.), Vancouver's premier digital printing and reprographics company, has launched a new brand platform that uses every opportunity to showcase creative customer projects."

So maybe running a business is atomic physics.

I actually think it's more like econobiology or econoecology , but this is a very interesting approach.
The (unfortunate) complexity of the economy
- from
Physicists, however, feel uncomfortable with theories not borne out by (or even blatantly incompatible with) empirical data. But could the methodology of physics really contribute to the much-awaited paradigm shift in economics? Such an approach is called econophysics (a term coined in 1995 by Boston physicist Gene Stanley), a field that effectively emerged from a famous 1987 conference between physicists and economists held at the Santa Fe Institute. After 20 years or so of “econophysics”, and about 1000 papers published on the arXiv preprint server (a new section “Quantitative Finance” was created in December 2008), it is perhaps useful to give a personal bird’s eye view of what has been achieved so far and what might be taught, in the long run, in order to foster a better grasp of the complexity of economic systems.

In the April edition of Physics World, Jean-Philippe Bouchard, gives a topical overview of the burgeoning field of econophysics . . .
Jean-Philippe-Bouchaud is head of research at Capital Fund Management and a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique, both in Paris, France.

PR people: Why the era of bullshit and spin is coming to an end

"Bullshit" is taken in the sense that is used by Prof. Henry Frankfort from Princeton University, in his brilliant On Bullshit, Winner of the 2005 Bestseller Awards, Philosophy Category, The Book Standard.

In this sense, the era of bullshit is disappearing because we are in the middle of
a reshaping of credibility from objectivity to transparency,
The good news is that the news media is being disintermediated by the internet. The new opportunity is for formal organizations to speak directly to their constituents. President Obama's use of the web and town halls is the best example to date.

Printernet publishing is a new print media. It enables the delivery of Print product to millions of people or to geographically scattered groups of interested people - investors? - overnight. "If thinking is a muscle, this is my gym.
"In his Bertha Bassam lecture, this is precisely what David Weinberger brilliantly argues is already taking place:

“Wikipedia is far more credible because it shows us how the sausage is made makes Wikipedia far more credible. Yet this is exactly the stuff that the Britannica wont show us because they think it would make them look amateurish and take away from their credibility. But in fact transparency – which is what this is – is the new objectivity. We are not going to trust objectivity, we are not going to trust objectivity unless we can see the discussion that lead to it.”"

Such a transformation, a reshaping of credibility from objectivity to transparency, would have profound implications for every organization – corporate, non-profit and governmental – in our society.

Free Advice for Oce, HP, Google, InfoPrint . . . and any textbook publisher who is not in a meeting

The value prop
Free textbooks for every kid in America (or the world)

The content
Wikipedia (or textbook or newspaper or magazine) content.

The team
A subject - science, history, civics, etc - editor + a subject educator + a writer.

The method
The editor talks to the educator to get a clear understanding of the standards and curriculum. The editor then selects stories from their morgue + current news stories and/or content created by the teachers and kids on the wiki. The educator writes the quizzes. The writer crafts 500 words plus captions for each edition. The educator and editor approve the final copy.

The wiki-newspapers are produced week by week in newspaper time. The content is available on line and in print. The long tail is the library of created newspaper files. The path to continuous improvement is with feedback from the classroom and the measure of effectiveness.

The money
Municipal, Regional, State and Federal Government health departments buy ads to fight childhood obesity or other public health issues.

The production method
Hyperlocalized newspapers, issue chosen by the teacher in the classroom, delivered weekly to each classroom. Black only is fine. Color if they can afford it.

This also works for MPS education practices and Xerox and Kodak. Except it's whatever format the CRD or local PSP can easily do. Then it's a wikinewsletter and sometimes a wikibook. But it has to have the quizzes and the content has to be aligned with standards.

Kodak's Secret Weapon

Web Wire: "More than 70 million people worldwide manage, share and create photo gifts online at KODAK Gallery.
You would think harvesting data from 70 million people would be a good thing.

Free advice to Kodak and Xerox
The best way to tell the story about POD Book production is to tell the story of Lightning Source and Actually you don't have to tell the story as give them the growth numbers.Anything else is not needed.

As for the Kodak and Xerox product line, hand out a simple survey. Ask everyone to do as much of a present customer list as they can. Then focus on who on that list might want to do books. I figure you can do it online. So you're really smart people can have more time to think, plus you save all the travel expenses.

If you really want to save time and get your PSP's to get more business, do it all on the web.
I suggest surveymonkey for the the survey and email for the follow up. Or if you really want to save time and scale the thing, use PBwiki or a blog with password protection. Then you won't have to say the same thing over and over and over. Keep in mind that the usual ratio of lurkers to responders is about 80/20.

Oce, Hyperlocal Newspapers and Textbooks

A hyperlocal newspaper = a hyperlocal textbook. The hyperlocal in question is the classroom. My column next week at PBS.Mediashift is about how commercial print sales people and/or designers and/or MPS and/or Staples could partner with hyperlocal newspapers to sell ads.
Hint: it's all about

Consider paying for textbooks by a local/state/federal government - health department - buying ads in student's wiki newspapers (what used to be called textbooks).

From Newspapers and Technology
Los Angleles-based O'Neil Data Systems, for example, already prints a number of Australian titles for Qantas Airlines passsengers. "We believe newspapers will become one of our biggest growth markets," Driessen said.

Meantime, Oce said it sold a JetStream 2200 digital press to Madrid-based publisher Imcodavila. The firm said it will use the machine to print in full color 6,000, 80-page broadsheet papers each day � a mixture of dailies, weeklies and monthlies.

Friday, April 3, 2009

You gotta love Print!

Since I added Kodak, Oce and Ricoh to the IRA, here's what my Schwab account says:
Ricoh +12.5%, Kodak +11.5%, Oce +43.5%, .

Since I have Xerox for years, I don't get comparable percentage.

Suffice it say that in the middle of February it closed at $5.98.
When I looked at about 10:13 AM EST, it was $4.90.

Anyone else see a pattern?

Meanwhile, if HP spins off Print so I could bet on that. Or if someone has a way to bet on Independent MPS, or Alphagraphics, I could probably worry a little less about being retired.

If they decide to issue hybrid preferreds like CitiCorp (C+P at Schwab, C.P at Wachovia) I would be really happy.

Go Print!

Xerox, MPS: The starting gun for Education Stimulus Money

Since job one seems to be reporting for each district the number and percentage of teachers and principals ...... I would think if you have the tools to do that, or can figure out how to make the partnerships to put those tools together, someone at the school board will take your call.

The thing that's cool about publishing in schools is that it solves the portfolio problem. Every good teacher wants to solve the portfolio problem. They all know that high stakes testing is mostly a waste of time if the purpose is to get kids to love to learn.
from Education Week
Stimulus Guidance Spotlights Teacher Evaluations: "As part of the teacher-quality assurance states must fulfill to receive fiscal-stabilization money, for instance, the department plans to demand that states report for each district the number and percentage of teachers and principals scoring at each performance level on local teacher- and principal-evaluation instruments."

Why Traffic was light at On Demand and How to Fix It

It's not because of the economy. It's because the evangelist stage of the digital print business is over.

When Sandy Alexander Installs two HP Indigo 7000's and RR Donnelley Launches 1,000 Digital Presses it's safe to say digital print is mainstream for commercial print.

Meanwhile, The World Association of Newspapers is holding their first global conference on the Power of Print ( Barcelona in May) . The first bullet point for the session called Million Dollar Strategies is "Exploiting new digital printing methods."

And, The Photizo Group is hosting the first conference for Independent MPS . What was once the " selling boxes" organizations are now organizing themselves to fully address the opportunity of MPS. The irony is that Independent Enterprise MPS is exactly the model of the printernet. If you follow the posts at The Death of the Copier, you'll see what I mean.

Consider that The Ace Group, who started in the 1970's as typographers is now producing mine magazine magazine for Lexus and Time Inc. And Ricoh/IBM Infoprint are doing at scale experiments to accumulate real data. You can read about them at TransPromo Live.

Based in Switzerland, GMC Software says "they serve thousands of users worldwide in direct mail, PSP and enterprise organizations . . many of whom are producing in excess of 100 million personalized documents per month - including direct mail, bills, statements, correspondence, catalogs, invoices and combined transactional/marketing (transpromo) materials."

Free advice to trade show companies
Print is organized into four segments. Manufacturers are focused on incremental improvements that bring real results. VAR's are interested in new ways to combine proven manufacturing capability to meet the needs of their present customers. Retailers are interested in sales/ per square foot. Enterprises are interested in saving time and lower risk.

Trying to stage a one size fits all show to have a little something for everyone is a strategy that works either during the gee whiz stage or if you have a monopoly (consider newspapers). Once you get past that, it means different shows for different folks. It's that same old, "the right information in the right format for the right person at the right time."

HP had a great "show", actually a conference for their VARs and Manufacturers. PSDA will probably have a good show for their VAR's. I'm betting the Photizo will have a good first show for their VARs.

I wouldn't be surprised if what is going to happen is MPS + PSD + PSP based VARs to be able to sell everything to mSB and SMB. It's just the natural evolution of the printernet.

Since the Print Manufacturers show is Print 09 - do a VAR show for people on the ground who are focused on the customer relationship.

Making money in Print is just common sense
Know your cost of production. Know your cost of customer acquisition and customer retention. Know the lifetime value of different kinds of customers. Focus on your present customers. Try to figure out how you can make their lives easier using what you do. Have a maniacally focus on bringing down the all in cost of production, without comprising the quality of the product.

Stop worrying about new customers or marketing. Marketing is much less important than great product with a pleasant customer experience. Customers will get to you the way they always have - referrals and word of mouth.

If you can figure out practical ways to increase word of mouth, then do that.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

GMC Software is doing fine. They sell software for personalized printing and transpromo.

I guess they haven't heard Print is dead or that the Sky is Falling or . . .Maybe they will tie the printernet together. Sounds like they have the all contacts and expertise you might need.

GMC Report 45% Growth in 2008 -
from WhatTheyThink
Boston, Massachusetts and Appenzell, Switzerland– Despite the current gloomy economic climate, GMC Software Technology reports outstanding results with a 45% year over year growth for 2008. The Swiss–based company says the two main contributors to its success in 2008 were productivity enhancements to its award-winning PrintNet suite of software and the global growth in transpromo applications.

“2008 was an exceptional year for GMC,” said Dr. Ren�M�ller,” CEO. “We saw a large increase in the number of large enterprise accounts and increased revenue from our professional services."
This is what GMC does,
About GMC
We serve thousands of users worldwide in direct mail, PSP and enterprise organizations in a wide range of industries including financial services, banking, insurance, telecommunications, utilities and health care. Many of our customers are producing in excess of 100 million personalized documents per month - including direct mail, bills, statements, correspondence, catalogs, invoices and combined transactional/marketing (transpromo) materials.

We differ from our competition by providing exceptionally reliable technologies and products (with worldwide ISO 9001:2000 certification and CMMI development methodology), rapid application development capabilities, open standards and best in class professional services and support.

We are a global company, headquartered in Switzerland, with offices throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Latin America and Asia. To better serve you, we are continually expanding our sales and support coverage throughout the world, with offices currently located in Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Shanghai, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA.
These are their partners:

Kodak's Response to On Demand

It was interesting that Kodak decided not to invest in appearing at On Demand. Given what I think I saw, that makes sense to me.

Based on the press release below, it sounds like they are trying the HP approach. User groups. Also makes sense. Commercial printers are either manufacturers or VARs. If they are manufacturers they go to On Demand. If they are VARs they go to user groups.

If their DNA is manufacture they will have a hard time becoming VARs and vice versa. "Market solution providers" is a VAR. Super efficient lean manufacturing is a manufacturer.

The trick is don't go to a group of manufacturers and treat them like VARs and again vice versa.

Press Release :: Expanded Graphic Users Association Conference to Focus on Ways that Kodak’s Customers Can Maximize Efficiency at Imaging Insider:
"ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 2 — The 2009 Graphic Users Association (GUA) North American Conference boasts an expanded program to help graphic communication service providers become more profitable by increasing efficiencies throughout their operations. Sponsored by Kodak and managed by the GUA Board, the 2009 GUA North American Conference, themed “Efficiency Revealed,” takes place May 17-20 at Orlando’s Grande Lakes Resort."

Fighting for Truth, Justice and my IRA

Today's score as of my Schwab account at 6:00 pm EST.
XRX +4.84%
EK +5.26%
Ricoy +3.49%
OceNY +40.41%

DJA +2.79%
Isn't it amazing how making a profit raises the stock price? No PR needed. Meanwhile, until the big money at the institutional investors figures out what they want to do, this may all change tmw. But in the meantime, it's been a nice day.

Now, if only HP would spin off the print part so I could lay some money on that, it would be alot more fun.

More on Xerox and the New York City Department of Education

I found this thread this morning. But it turns out the NY Times had it yesterday. In my defense it has graduated to the newspaper. So far it's on the City Room Blog. A quick Google News Search at 5:00 pm EST brought it up.

On the other hand, you don't get to ToughLove until number 2 on the second page of a "Xerox" Search on the blogs. But, on the third hand, a Google Blog search on "Xerox +NYC," puts Tough Love in the number one position on the first page.

Anyway, here's the link to the NY Times blog and a snippet below:

In blistering testimony before the City Council’s Education Committee, Mr. Thompson, a candidate for mayor, said a review by his office had found that over the past two fiscal years, the sum of certain contracts had ballooned to $1 billion from initial estimates of $325 million. That includes one contract with Xerox Corporation that was initially projected at $1 million and came in at $68 million, he said.

“It is outrageous,” Mr. Thompson said at a news conference that seemed aimed at chipping away at the educational accomplishments that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is making a cornerstone of his re-election campaign. “To see this lack of accountability on contracts is frightening.”

Education officials defended their spending, explaining that the contracts Mr. Thompson zeroed in on, known as requirement contracts [pdf], are expected to fluctuate in response to demand by individual schools. Photeine Anagnostopoulos, chief operating officer of the school system, said it was impossible to predict the popularity of a particular service — for instance, special education tutoring — and that costs naturally soar when more schools begin adopting it.

“In some ways, it’s sort of a ridiculous thing to look at,” Ms. Anagnostopoulos said in an interview, noting that while estimates may have changed, the city’s balance sheets had not. “We are not over our budget.”

"It may or may not be a ridiculous thing to look at", but consider the business climate these days. Then consider that Wagoner and his Board of Directors at GM got fired. Then consider that the G-20 is all about regulation and executive comp. Then consider that Mayor Mike is going to have to respond. Then consider that everyone knows that education is running out of money and has to be fixed.

I'm assuming that the Xerox PR firm is having a very, very hectic day, but someone might want to give Mayor Mike a call. That is if he hasn't called you yet.

Go Mets!

Gee, wouldn't it be cool if Xerox had a Corporate Communication Printernet Publishing system up and running? They could have a milllion print pieces in the hands of every teacher and politician in New York tomorrrow telling their side of the story.

Oops! I'm seeing serious heat for Xerox on this one

It started at City Council meeting yesterday. The story was in blog yesterday at Gotham Gazette. I picked it up at the Death of Copiers blog this morning. I'm betting it will hit the newspapers tomorrow or the next day. As of 10:30 am EST, it's not yet up with a Google News search on Xerox. On the other hand, if you search blogs for Xerox, toughlove comes up on the first page as of 11:12 EST.

Here we go:
at 11:50 AM EST, Google News Search got to the NY1 news story posted 13 hours ago. Anyone want to bet how many stories Search is going to turn up by Friday morning?

The link to the full story is at the end of the post, but here's the point:
"In the most egregious overrun, a contract with Xerox Corporation to lease copy machines to schools ended up costing the taxpayers more than $67 million. It had been estimated at a cost of $1 million.
Given that this has now entered the political arena - Thompson is running for Mayor against Bloomberg - I suggest a no-power-dance meeting, today or tmw to figure out the response.

I'm seeing a lot of brand damage. Not only in NYC among the creatives. The bigger problem is that it destroys "Nobody ever got fired for buying Xerox." I'm thinking someone is going to get fired for buying Xerox. Meanwhile a gezillion independents are going to be making that case all over the country.

Free advice:
Get in touch, today, with the folks who approved this cost overrun. They are in deep trouble, no matter how this ends up. If you leave them stranded, it's going to be very ugly all over the country and in Europe. Get them to get to someone to apply for a grant from the Xerox Foundation. Announce a proof of concept project aimed at the special education kids. Then set up a meeting with the Science editor at the New York Times. Or call Mort Zuckerman. He's already deeply involved in education in NYC Schools.

Set up a meeting with a Xerox project manager, the teacher and the editor. At the meeting have the teacher layout the curriculum to the editor. Then assemble the content on PBWiki. Then when the teacher says the time is right. Print the content out on some Xerox box. Figure out the best Print format based on the production capabilites of the CRD's in place or better on the local MFPs at the school. It can designed to work on 8 1/2 by 11 in one color. Or 14 by 20 4 page full color newsletter, if they can produce that.

Then deliver it in printed form into the classroom.

And get the schools to use all the cool stuff that XIG has for scanning testscores on MFPs. And assign somebody to mentor this on the ground to make sure it works.

Maybe there will be a way to turn lemons into lemonade. But . . .maybe not.

from the Death of The Copier:
New York City Dept of ED. - Xerox Contract Starts at $36 million - ends up at more than $67 Million:
"In the most egregious overrun, a contract with Xerox Corporation to lease copy machines to schools ended up costing the taxpayers more than $67 million. It had been estimated at a cost of $1 million.

In a letter written to the board from City Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate, William Thompson, called the a “troubling pattern of mismanagement” at the department.

Thompson's claim has been disputed. Representatives say that city records show that the Xerox contract was estimated originally at $31 million, not $1 million, as Thompson reported. Meaning the overrun $36 million, not $66 million."

Oops! If the States start suing feeder funds this is going to get nasty

Madoff made money for his partners for 25 years. The feeder funds didn't do the jobs they were paid to do. They got paid for being investment advisers. Not doing your job is not criminal. You don't go to jail. You just get fired. Ask Rick Wagoner.

If everyone just does their job, things usually work out. Board of Directors protect and enhance shareholder value over the long term - not tommorrow's stock price. CEO's run the company. Designers design. Printer print.

from Reuters
Massachusetts regulator sues Madoff feeder fund :
"By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts' securities regulators sued Fairfield Greenwich Group, a major 'feeder fund' for Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, accusing the hedge fund of lying to investors and not exercising enough diligence over investments that were worth billions of dollars."

A Money shot for Oce. It's the score that really matters.

I got this from my email alert from I tried to go to the link, but the site wouldn't load. At any rate, here's the good part.

Océ defies expectations with £13.9m profit

William Mitting,
02 April 2009, 11:06

Strong sales of colour presses have boosted Océ as it reported bullish results for the first quarter of 2009 but warned that further cost cutting was required to . . .

The last mile for Printernet Textbooks

from Beyond-Print
The Espresso Book Machine: major announcements coming soon:
""Jason Epstein" talked about the success of the machine installed at the University of Alberta, where an average of 100 books per day are printed. Most of them are locally generated items, such as course packs and self-published books. The average selling price is $20. The system does not have access to any current books from major publishers. This installation was the topic of an earlier post (

Epstein described the current model of the Espresso (of which only three or four have been made) as “hand-assembled.” Produced in this way, it would cost about $60,000. In full production, the cost will be less than half of that. Pricing will vary, depending on the brand and speed of the printing engine inside the machine. It is designed to accommodate printers from various manufacturers.

Once the Espresso is in production, On Demand Books expects to place large numbers of them in bookstores. Even a sub-$30,000 price tag would be a major obstacle for many bookstores, but stores are not expected to purchase them outright. Instead, they will be leased, with a click-charge pricing model based on the number and length of the books produced.

Epstein said that On Demand Books is currently meeting with the National Association of College Stores (NACS) to work out a deal for NACS members to get Espresso units, equipped with Xerox printing engines. NACS has 3,200 member colleges and universities.

Kramer declares the depression is over!

At least that's what he said on Morning Joe a couple of minutes ago. We are still in a recession, but the depression that started when Lehman crashed, is done. The credit goes to the grown ups in charge.

He also said that the present CEO at Citi was dealt a terrible hand by "Chuck Clown Prince." I think he's also got that pretty right.

Textbooks, the printernet and the end of bullshit

I did a post a couple of days ago and got this comment from BobH
Great stuff and right to the point. I called the good folks at PBWicki who insist their system is not meant to replace textbooks. Why not???? It's great to augment materials and be a place to share with your classmates/associates/organization, add web & other content, etc, etc. A customized living textbook, printed on-demand, for pennies on the dollar. What's stopping it?
Then I said,
What's stopping it is the fact that folks like Oce, Xerox and InfoPrint are focused at the top of the pyramid. It's just in their DNA.

So...they look at the education space. They "see" the textbook companies have the "content". They "see" the only way to do is to come in from the top of the pyramid. Based on what they "see," they think it means a gezillion meetings with publishers and education administrators....

Most of those meetings are power dances, not getting things done. So, they stay away.
Professor Henry Frankfurt of Princeton University says, "The "bullshitter" does not care about the truth and is only seeking to impress." Real meetings can be useful. Power dance meetings are classic examples of time wasting bullshit in action.

Meanwhile over at PR Communications there is a discussion about the nature of Public Relations. In the context of that conversation I said,

I think that points to PR people as message managers, not message controllers. It also points to a redefinition of PR.

Once the web made it very easy to compare and contrast, it became very clear that a large percentage of "journalism" is reprinting PR releases with a little gloss. In a value chain, it only makes sense. Journalists do not have the time to be experts at everything. They have the choice of a scanning the horizon or staying focused on a small area.

The emergence of beat reporting is a decision to focus on a small area and become an expert. The PR person by the nature of the job is focused on one area, their client. So the job becomes scanning the organization's information, and recombining unnoticed events to craft a story that someone will want to hear or read.

I think it's most clear in the recent Presidential campaign. Hillary's people thought they could control the news cycle. Obama's people understood that the only thing that has a chance of working is to keep telling the truth and building your fan base.

My bet is that Obama's team listened very closely to what people were saying. Not to follow it or pander to it or control it.

They listened carefully to get the the feedback to better understand how to more effectively tell the truth.

The opportunity for printernet publishing
The fact is that if you want to get your signal to break through the noise, the best media is Print. The internet just makes the signal v noise worse by radically increasing the noise. The problem, until the printernet, is that Print does not have the scale or the response time.

Textbooks with IP trapped content and value chain production can not respond fast enough nor be up to date have become too inefficient for learning. "Improving" them is only paving over cowpaths. The idea that they will be replaced by individualized computer instruction is good, but again misses the enabling factor. The advantage of Print is that it isolates signal from noise and captures that signal on Paper in a permanent form that can be considered, not read, viewed, scanned or consumed.

Without consideration and reflection learning is impossible.

Once printernet publishing becomes organized, Print is liberated from the disadvantages of the recent past. Millions of print products could be manufactured and delivered overnight to most urban areas on the planet, without getting close to straining capacity.

Much more important is that 30 copies could be delivered to a classroom, when teachable moments are likely to occur with just the right content in just right form at just the right time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Re: GM. It's the dealers. Not the bondholders or the union.

Just listening to MSNBC, and needed to vent. It's same channel v network distribution that every global has to figure out.

Also Ford is offering buy outs to all 42,000 workers. Xerox? How about buy outs instead of excessing? Or help your talent be entrepreneurs? They will turn out to be the best salesforce you could possibly have. Or pay for them to learn how to become teachers. That would be a great thing for the foundation to do.

Oops! Now the shareholders are getting involved with executive comp

Got this in my morning email from Seeking Alpha,
AIG compensation chief under fire. Activist investors are trying to block the re-election of AIG (AIG) director James F. Orr, chairman of the board compensation committee. Officials representing major union and public pension funds wrote a letter to trustees urging them to unseat Orr for failing to adequately oversee the $165M in retention payments that have sparked so much public outrage in recent weeks. (Read the letter to the trustees (.pdf)) Separately, lawmakers have reportedly asked for copies of confidential reports prepared by a lawyer who has been in charge of monitoring AIG's business practices over the past four years.
Free advice to the Board of Directors of HP, Infoprint, Xerox, Kodak and other public companies
The ground has shifted. The grown ups are in the charge. Executive comp in the States has gotten completely out of control. If it were me, I would focus on this, much sooner, rather than later. If institutional investors are so pressured that they have to demand a sustainable return on their investment, they'll have no one to blame but the Chairman of the Board.

If the CEO of GM can get fired when the biggest institutional investor is the government, it's pretty likely that other institutional investors are going to sooner or later follow their lead. Unless you get ready, this can get pretty nasty.

Meanwhile, given that the M&A people are looking for deals, keep an eye out for the next big bunch of money that comes searching for a way to unlock value in legacy corporations.

What I think I learned at the On Demand show

Franchise and affiliate models are at the heart of the printernet
Looks like it might be Donnelly at the top, franchises and affiliates at the middle and bottom. There are 2,931 franchise locations. Five systems opened new locations in 2008. Minuteman (40), Allegra (32) AlphaGraphics (16) CPrint (14)and Franchise Services (5).

In 2008, the total system wide sale for "quick printing" was $2,008,538,426. As far as I can tell that does not include the Big Box stores, UPS or Fedex. 47.7% of sales came from prepress and offset printing. 37.8% came from digital printing, with the balance from finishing, mailing services and brokered orders.

The figures are taken from Quick Printing - "The only information Resource dedicated to quick and small commercial printers." Luckily they had a print copies available. I stuffed one in my back pocket and read it on the train back to New York.

Now . . . if they would only start a Printernet section focusing on distribute and print, I bet their ad revenues could go up, up. Plus they could printernet publish and give everyone both marketing material and the most up to date information.

I'm waiting for the franchises or the big box stores to get together with some struggling newspapers to sell newspaper ads - both in print and for the newspaper website. That's multi channel marketing for SMB at retail. It naturally moves into the enterprise.

Adobe did not exhibit.
The evangelist phase of digital printing is over. Adobe has moved on.

There was no one at the HP booth to talk about MarketSplash. It's media hype or the focus is not commercial printers or the folks selling boxes are not talking to the folks selling MarketSplash.

The company who is doing the "mine" project really, really gets it. He said, "If you don't want to invest in IT capability don't get into variable data printing." It's hard, complicated and has many new things to deal with.

Infoprint has the right DNA for the Cloud. They come from a tradition of database publishing in large organizations. VDP, at scale, is database publishing. It was always database publishing. It always will be database publishing. Web pages are database publishing. Database publishing is the area of explosive growth. Ground > Cloud > Print.

They didn't grow up in the advertising bubble. Their roots are in Print as Infrastructure. Print as infrastructure is exactly the most interesting opportunity. Print-as-advertising is only going to be fun at the middle or the bottom of the pyramid.

A sustainable model for MPS has been working in Brazil. As I understand it, no charge for boxes. Pay for page printed.

Oce gets it. The person I spoke to has the clear vision for the US market. Now it's only a matter of focus. If they get it right, their biggest problem is going to be supplying equipment when the landscape tips. The remaining problem is a legacy top of the pyrmid focus. Makes sense to nurture legacy business, but once the focus shifts to the bottom of the pyramid it should work.

Xerox has around 800 Premier Partners around the world. A significant number have Igens. If they can figure out how to get them to all play nicely together and get real value from the network in the form of a baseline of predictable work, that network could be energized a lot faster than anyone thinks.

Great salespeople can sell stuff. I spoke to an Igen salesman who is doing fine. My bet is that if he were running the sales program AND could figure out how to turn what he does into a system, they would all do fine.

Selling teams work. The problem is that the boss has to be willing to share the profits to incent the teams. The one printer I heard about has teams of a "hunter, an inside person and a business development person."

The way to handle tech support is to run the new equipment in the PSP location for a couple of days. That should manage the "This box can't do my work" blablaba. Plus it would mean a lot more efficient tech support going forward. The most reasonable model would be to form independent tech support regional teams with excessed or soon to be excessed employees.

Free advice to commercial printers
The first thing to put on that blank sheet of paper is your customer list. Don't think about "new business" or becoming a market solution provider. Maniacal focus on your present customer list, making your order intake - manufacturing - delivery - billing process as efficient as possible. It's about incremental improvement, done in real time, not corporate time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Holy smokes! The New York Times runs a story on Print (HP) (printernet)

They don't call it the printernet. They don't say Ground > Cloud > Print. But, in the last couple of weeks, I noticed 3 stores picked up by the business press. When the New York Times does a "Not-the-End-of-Print" story something big might be happening.

On March 29, The New York Times said
. . . sending a PDF file of their creation over the Internet to the MagCloud repository. H.P. farms out the printing jobs to partners scattered around the globe and takes care of billing and shipping for people who order the magazine. . . .
It is not clear how big a market there is for small runs of narrow-interest magazines when so much information is available free on the Internet.

The New York Times still doesn't get it
Publishing in Print is not about competing with "information available for free". It's about understanding the unique properties of Print as a medium of communication. Print is either a tool, a toy or a token. It's most enduring quality is as a token of real relationships and community.

Real people want to publish in Print for the same reason they publish videos. It's one more way of saying "I was here, I matter."

During the era, I co founded a start up called We enabled student publishing with what was state of the art technology in 1998. During our two years, we produced 5 x 7 paperback books -"real books" - for more than 2500 English teachers in "classroom packs" of 30 copies each.

Our burned through $1.5 million. Our educational partners were Great Source, a division of Houghton Mifflen and J.L Hammett Co. The crashed wiped us out.

Back then, there was no Cloud. There was no widely distributed print capability. Wikis were not mainstream. There was no production digital color. Going from a web page to a PDF at scale was still being invented. But the reasons for publishing in Print have not changed. Following is what I said then. I think it still works today.

We believe in books.
A well-made book, intelligently designed, printed on good paper and sturdily bound, is the best way to transmit and preserve thought and spirit. No medium is stabler than acid-free paper; no record lasts longer than a book.

We believe in technology.
The personal computer and the Internet have liberated information from the constraints of time and space.

We believe in education and in communities.
Our intellectual heritage and community memories are archived and examined, cultivated and circulated in schools and libraries. Our most important responsibility is to ensure that succeeding generations share and expand that heritage.

We believe that books will radically change in the 21st century.
Computers and the Internet do not herald the twilight of literacy and books. But they make it inevitable that the way books are published will change. On-demand printing and online bookstores are only the tips of the iceberg. Along with the change in how they are produced, will come a change in why books are written and read.

Many books of the 19th and 20th century are addressed to everyone, and often to no one. They were written, edited, designed, printed and sent forth into the marketplace to find their audience.

In the 21st century, new kinds of books will thrive: modest, social, direct books written for small audiences. These books will not have to succeed commercially to justify their existence. Success will be measured by their effect on readers. These books will be as various as the communities that create them: stories published by third graders for their classmates and parents, a neighborhood history recorded by the people who live in it, a collection of essays written by local citizens discussing common problems, family histories, or books commemorating important personal events. books are the prototype of this new kind of communication. When you order books from us, we know that each copy has a reader, without marketing. We have seen the effect on children and adults of having their words being published in a real book. We look forward to seeing the same awakening everywhere that groups of people gather to share experiences.

We welcome this shift in the dynamics of communication. And we see as the first application of this new publishing paradigm.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Noel Ward, Brimstone Hill, and HP get it.

from Brimstone Hill Associates:
. . . "Providing such roadmaps to success have long been the goal of print industry trade shows, conferences and trade associations. Yet truly useful sharing and collaboration has been uncommon because print providers eyed their contemporaries as competitors and were reluctant to share information.

Now reality has set in.

The typical printer today isn't just competing with someone down the street for local customers but someone he never heard of in another time zone. This flattening of the marketplace is (finally) lessening the fear of competitors 'stealing one's ideas' while hastening the realization that success in this digital age comes from learning from others and applying knowledge in creative and innovative ways. Then sharing what you've done with your peers.

At Dscoop4, everyone I spoke with echoed the sense that such collaboration was a tide that would lift all boats. 'There's more digital printing to be done than any of us can do,' one Dscoop member said to me. 'We all become stronger and more successful by sharing, collaborating and learning together.'"

The hidden time bomb in the GM deal

The Board of Directors of GM is also getting fired.

If I understand the way the game is supposed to be played, the job of the Board of Directors is to make sure the CEO is doing their job. Hmmmm....

Gosh, it's tough to be a global these days. It would be alot easier if everybody did their jobs.
An Ultimatum for Carmakers From Obama -
"Along with Mr. Wagoner’s ouster, the task force said most of the company’s board would be replaced over the next few months."

It's not a Purl. It's an Enthusem attachment. Actually it is a Purl.

I wonder who's getting the clicks.
The Ground > Cloud > Print.

One Part of the Cloud Piece:
Founded in 2005, is a leading web-based content storage and collaboration solution adopted by small businesses and Fortune 1000 companies globally.
Over 50,000 businesses use Box to . . . . .
The Print Piece:

from the Enthusem blog
What's an Enthusem attachment?
March 17, 2009 03:18 by angela

"Enthusem attachments are online documents that can be 'attached' to your PRINTED card and when your recipient views their attachment (via a pickup code that's printed on your card) you receive an alert email."

Here's how it works. Sure looks like a PURL to me.

and . . .

The Enthusem Affiliate program
"Thanks for your interest in becoming an Enthusem affiliate! Enthusem makes sending personalized PRINTED greeting cards as easy as sending an email. Even better, like an email, enthusem cards can include attachments. That's right; you can attach electronic files like videos, PDFs or web pages to printed greeting cards - and get email alerts when the files are viewed."

If that's not enough, you can also use any image you want for the front of the card, you can write your own personalize message, you can buy and send cards one-at-a-time and you can try enthusem for free.

Get started now - it's free and easy!

You can start earning a commission on all orders placed through your affiliate link, plus continue to earn a commission for 30 days on repeat business from the customers you referred! Best of all, it's super easy to get started and it won't cost you a dime! Click here to join right now.

"Global digital printing network" = printernet

Ok, maybe I'm nagging. But keep in mind that I spent 30 years as a NYC printing broker. Anyway, I got my email alert from Graphics Arts Monthly, but when I clicked to their site, it wouldn't load. So, I'll share the email with our visitors.

Notice the words they use in the RR Donnelly story..."global digital printing network", yes. It's just faster for me to type "printernet." An additional benefit is that kids in school and on Wall Street might fall in love with it.

* RR Donnelley Launches 1,000 Digital Presses
Stealthy moves lead to launch of global digital printing network.

Now, if they don't think they can own this network, it should work. But, if they think they should keep it closed, they'll just become the AOL of the printernet. The big question is who is going to be Google?

Maybe it will be Google.

Free Advice for Donnelly
Since you already have almost all the pieces to do deals at the top of pyramid - BPO, Massive Offset production, and now the "global digital printing network" make API's available for everyone else.

It turns out that in a facilitated user network economy, the riskiest place to do business is at the top of the pyramid. Given your DNA, I think you're not built for the speed necessary anywhere else. Always keep top of mind that AlphaGraphics started at Donnelly. Just like Xerox should always remember that Postscript was invented at Xerox.

Here's why I think the grown ups are in charge

Back on February 28, I posted a bit about Germany's successful program to incent trading old cars for new. Today, the grown-up in chief, President Obama, said that Congress is considering some kind of similar bill and his team is going to work with Congress to figure it out.

Big Score for the home team (Xerox)

Go Mets!
from Print4Pay Hotel:
-Xerox won a managed print services contract from University of Pittsburgh Medical Center:
- Was spending $10 million per year on machines, supplies & service
- Had 13,000 printers, copiers, fax machines and scanners for its 43,000 employees
- Was one device for every 2.5 employees
- Now has 3,000 Xerox MFPs
- Hope to save 35% annually

Xerox wins a bid for Blue Valley Public School District of Kansas. Details:
- Includes Xerox MFPs with embedded QDirect Scan
- school printshop gets web-to-print RSA WebCRD
- Models included were WorkCentre 7655 color MFPs, WorkCentre 5600 series b/w MFPs
- Installed in 31 schools
- Print center has Xerox 4112 and Nuvera 144 production b/w systems
- Also includes DocuShare document management system"

Oops! It's hard being a global, between startups eating your lunch and government asking for transparency . . . .

Skype to Launch iPhone Software -
"EBay Inc.'s Skype unit plans to release a version of its Internet-based phone software for Apple Inc.'s iPhone."

and from Bloomberg
March 30 (Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private-equity firm, rebuffed a request from securities regulators to publicly disclose the performance of its buyout and hedge funds while Fortress Investment Group LLC agreed.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked both New York-based companies to include fund returns in their financial reports, according to letters the agency released earlier this month. Fortress did so in its annual report. Blackstone told the SEC it wouldn’t.

Oops! Bond holders fire the CEO at GM

Is this the shape of things to come? Turns out that when the government holds the bonds, they can fire CEOs. I guess these Obama folks are serious. The grown ups are back in charge. The only way to get an 800 lb gorilla to pay attention is with a 2 ton gorilla, (private capital). The only way to get everyone to pay attention is with a 10 ton gorilla (that's the government.)

Once things get really broken, the 10 ton gorilla has to get involved. It usually takes a long time. But when the grown-ups are in charge, it happens sooner, rather than later.

Small shareholders who are playing with their own money are too busy. Institutional investors playing with other people's money are busy and don't have the same fear as the small investors. But when the grown ups run the government, they are just doing their job.

If everybody just does their job, things usually work out for the best.

Besides, as it has been said, "Nothing so focuses the mind like the prospect of one's own hanging"
Government Forces Out Wagoner at GM
"The Obama administration used the threat of withholding more bailout money to force out General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and administer harsh medicine to Chrysler LLC, marking one of the most dramatic government interventions in private industry since the economic crisis began last year."

Xerox's Secret Weapon - The Xerox Foundation

The foundation needs to move from grants to colleges and universities and towards grants for the most promising educational innovations on the ground. If they focused, they have the opportunity to help solve the central problem of the next century. If the question is global peace and security, the answer is education.

Delivery of education is next up for the disruption created by moving from value chain commercial models to user network commercial models. Given the abysmal performance for bottom of the pyramid populations of the value chain model, it's clear something big is going to happen. Given the Obama Administration, it's likely that it will happen much faster than previously thought possible.

The problem is not the teachers or the administrators or the Unions. The problem is a legacy industrial model that never really worked for the bottom of the pyramid. The most cogent description and explanation is Disrupting Class: Changing the Way the World Learns. Watch the video here. Buy the book here.

If and when, the Xerox Foundation engages the Wikipedia Foundation, the direction becomes very clear. The good news for everyone involved in the printernet is that wikibooks and wikinewspapers will help make everyone's life better.

And . . . if someone can figure out a way to link to the intelligence and passion at Xerox PARC , education delivery could get that much closer to the inevitable tipping point.

That's why Xerox is my home team. It's not because of my IRA, nor the iGen, nor the great people I know at Xerox.

Go Mets!

from Xerox Foundation Information: "From its beginnings, Xerox has helped shape the idea of corporate social responsibility. Our education and social service efforts reflect our belief that a successful corporation must be an active participant in society.

Xerox remains committed to a program of grants to colleges and universities that prepare qualified men and women for careers in business, government and education. Xerox also is committed to furthering the advance of knowledge in science and technology and enhancing learning opportunities for minorities and the disadvantaged."

More on Oce and Newspapers

Real time is not corporate time.

Internet time does not have to mean super fast. It has to mean 24/7. It's more like fireman time. Lots of life living. Then responding quickly. Then lots of life living.

To be clear, I am not saying that Event 1 is connected to Event 2. Although I do know that Event 2 and Event 3 are linked.

Event 1: My column appeared at PBS on March 24.
Event 2: A thread started at Harvard, Thursday, March 26. 11:00 am.
Event 3: The snippet below Save The Media, Sunday at 9:00 pm

Save The Media

". . . Martin Langeveld has a provocative post at the Nieman Journalism Lab. He explains that Océ, a Dutch firm, has unveiled a new digital web press that could print full-color individually customizable newspapers fast. The idea is readers would sign up for the news they want, and the newspaper would print and distribute the individual papers to the readers.

Essentially, the Web allows people to do that now, for free. They read the stories or blogs they like. But this idea would give readers insurance of sorts that they got all the stories on a particular topic of interest, and they wouldn’t have to surf for them.

Would it work? Langeveld points out it could pose problems with larger newspapers, although one of the commenters makes a cogent case for using these individual newspapers to support hyperlocal efforts. My take: Explore it; can’t hurt.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Still another Print story picked up by the media . . . and Xerox, HP, Oce, InfoPrint "collaborate"

Ok, not so much "collaborate" as "partner" . . . with Press-Sense.

According to the PR release, Xerox Web Services 7.0 is powered by Press-Sense. A quick Google Search goes to the Press Sense homepage, then clicking to the Partners page, I found this:

Then I went to the Independent Distributors page, and found this.
Press-sense products are sold through an extensive network of distributors and resellers in all major markets around the globe. Our distribution partners, who are all familiar with today’s print on demand business environment and are experts in web-to-print solutions, are chosen for their high level of skill and efficiency. By working with the best professionals, we ensure our customers enjoy the same high quality from the sales, installation and on-going technical support experience as they enjoy from the products themselves.
An "extensive network of distributors and resellers in all major markets around the globe." Press Sense was founded in 2001. They are based in Israel.

Globals now have to deal with the exactly same problems that grow out of the "channel v network" contradiction that has bubbled up among Indigo users concerned about MarketSplash.

Global Corporations v Cloud Based Start-Ups.
Advantage goes to Start-Ups.

In a world of SaaS, global corporations have to compete with start ups. The start ups have no legacy customers to serve, very low fixed overhead, and passion driven teams. Plus they don't have to worry about stock price or pension plans. The game changer is the lower barriers to enter the game. It's just the same old invention > innovation > monetization problem. It's not about better or smarter managers. It's about a facilitated user network commercial model.
was a start up. They are now organizing busyness for 40,000 busynesses.
On their website it says,
Remember, if you're using our basic service, or you have three or fewer business users, PBwiki is free.

In the classroom or across your campus, PBwiki's Academic plans let you bring collaboration to your classroom in an affordable way. Premium Academic Plans start at $100/classroom/year.

Whether you're a sole proprietor or a Fortune 100 corporation, PBwiki's Professional Edition provides top-of-the-line functionality, including unlimited storage space and single sign-on integration. Try it for free; when you're ready to pay, Professional Edition starts at $8/user/month.

The sales plan is the oldest and the newest "Try it, you'll like it." or "Free money back guarantee, we pay the shipping." No expensive sales staff. No announcements about something that is going to be released next year. It's about getting to good enough, testing alpha, releasing beta, refining beta. If the market starts to gather, refine beta to get it better and better. Consider how long Gmail was in "beta."

If you are stuck in a value chain mindset instead of a user network mindset, you think that selling software is a profit center. While it can be for the startup with no legacy overhead and a network commercial model. It's mostly a loser for a global corporation that has to sell at prices determined by the market.

To compete a global has to be able to make money at $8/per user/month for or $50/per user/month for Google Apps for Enterprise or the Basecamp offer of $149/month for " * Unlimited projects * 50 GB storage * Unlimited users * Time tracking* Enhanced security. If any global can compete at those prices with a similar customer experience, great for them. But if they can't make money at these prices, stay away from that business. Any resources going into the "organizing information" piece is not going into the toner and supply business. Salespeople spend their time pushing proprietary"web solutions", instead of pointing them to the least expensive solutions that get the job done.

Consider that sooner or later, the independent MPS and PSD organizations are going to join GoogleApps reseller programs or they are going to point their prospects, customers and clients to Basecamp, PBwiki or Press Sense or the many other solutions out coming on line every day.

Toner and supplies is a very good business in a network commercial model.
It's the steel for railroads. It's fiber optics manufacturing for the web. It's the infrastructure business or perhaps more precisely, it's the "infostructure," coined by Vannevar Bush, in 1945. Every institutional investor is going to be looking at pure plays in the infrastructure business. If there is a growth story, with organic growing revenue, stable dividends, and the price is right, why wouldn't you risk your clients money by investing in it.

It seems that some teams at Ricoh/IBM and HP get it. They are doing the work that individual PSPs cannot do - organize effective demand. Infoprint is investing in gathering the hard data that gets transpromo to "the why wouldn't I do that" level. HP is going retail with MarketSplash. Once the physical presence of retail and distributed manufacturing is added to the VistaPrint marketing model, that should work. If Kodak and Oce figure out a way to "collaborate" to bring versioned newspapers to market that should also work.

Everybody else will just have to keep on keeping on. Meanwhile, everybody will keep scanning the horizon for the next start up based in the Cloud.

Erasable paper? Go, Mets!

A snippet of the Xerox Press Release picked off the Business Wire by Fox Business News
Xerox's New Web-to-Print Service Helps Print Providers Take on More Jobs; Stay Connected with Customers - "ROCHESTER, N.Y., Mar 27, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) ----Online printing is now more automated, customized and easier to deliver thanks to Xerox Corporation's (NYSE: XRX: 5.1, -0.2095, -3.95%) new Web Services 7.0, powered by Press-sense(TM: 65.48, -1.55, -2.31%).

Part of Xerox's FreeFlow(R: 28.26, -1.5492, -5.2%) Digital Workflow Collection, Web Services 7.0 is a complete online print solution that lets print providers process job orders, manage production and stay connected with their customers. For print buyers, version 7.0 offers personalization capabilities and 24-hour access to quotes, PDF proofs and job status reports."

Free advice
No one wants "complete solutions". That's value chain language. Everybody wants tools they can use now. That's facilitated user network language.