Printing comes back home.


Blog posts about the value of domestic manufacturing are more properly the purview of Kevin Meyer and Bill Waddell over at Evolving Excellence, but I'm not sure they read the Sunday New York Times book review. So I'm stepping in with the latest story on why it makes sense to make things at home -- this time, books. Dave Eggers's new book, A Hologram for the King, is being published by Thomson-Shore printers in Dexter, Michigan. Eggers said,

I have to admit that I had a bit of a come-to-Jesus moment when it came to the printing of McSweeney’s books [Eggers's publishing house]. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of our production in the U.S., and even more in Canada, and then, about five years ago, we started printing in Asia, too. But then, a few years ago, I got to know this printer outside Detroit called Thomson-Shore. They’d done some pro-bono work for our tutoring center nearby, 826 Michigan, so I visited the plant, and thanked them, and saw some beautiful books they’d made, and met the men and women who worked there. Walking the production floor was very much like meeting members of an extended family; most of the people at Thomson-Shore have been there for decades.... The fact that they’re in Michigan makes it easier to communicate, to reprint, and to correct problems, and the prices are close enough to China’s numbers, when you take shipping and various delays into account.

No surprise to those who have dealt with long supply chains from China: it's harder to communicate and correct problems before and during production, and the lower prices are significantly offset by the cost of shipping large batches of inventory across the Pacific.

Eggers felt so strongly about the relationship with the factory that he includes everyone at the plant in the book's acknowledgments:

When I was thinking of the acknowledgments, it made sense to thank everyone at the printing plant, given they’re a big part of getting the book out into the world.

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