It has come to this: fast turnaround, great pricing, and best quality—the propositions defining the modern print manufacturing industry—are no longer enough to attract publishers. In fact, suppliers offering just those basics are considered average, run-of-the-mill players.

To stand out in a crowded seller market, savvy print manufacturers are taking their cues from the book-plus items and novelty titles that they assembled, which invariably demand higher prices and receive more attention (and appreciation). In other words, suppliers are adding bells and whistles to the basic fast-cheap-quality print proposition. Thinking outside the box in addition to getting ink onto paper (as well as glue to the spine) is the game plan.

Value addition, deeper supply-chain service, and unique solutions are the buzzwords. Offering warehousing, fulfillment, and logistics services to publishers makes perfect sense. So is getting involved in the client’s product development process at the earliest possible stage to provide ideas and circumvent potential manufacturing issues. The same goes for managing and auto-replenishing inventory levels to keep everything on track for the client, becoming the liaison to keep licensors on the straight and narrow on IP protection and image-branding for overseas licensees, and providing track-and-trace and anti-counterfeiting capabilities while linking the printed content to the publisher’s LMS.

Performance pressures from clients aside, various external forces and ever-evolving market dynamics are also pushing suppliers to further conform, reform, and transform their operations. There is, for example, no getting away from regulatory compliance on safety, social welfare, and the environment.

Toeing the Many Lines

In China, enforcement of these regulatory compliances has become even stricter in the past year, says Matthew Yum, executive chairman of Hung Hing, adding that adherence has been tough going for many industries. “Chinese paper companies have to be audited for clean energy even before they are allowed to be certified for operation,” Yum notes. “This resulted in the closures of small and medium-sized outfits with outdated technology and limited cash flow, which in turn restrained supply and pushed up paper prices.”

New regulations on social welfare payments to workers have led to higher labor costs, Yum adds. “But we need to consider the long-term benefits. The compliance and adjustments may be painful and arduous, but having a cleaner environment, a better and fairer society, and being a responsible global citizen is definitely the right way to go about it.”

For Howard Musk, president and CEO of Imago, adherence to social and safety compliance is non-negotiable. “We monitor printing plants carefully to ensure that the necessary compliances are in place for particular retailers or licensors,” Musk says, adding that international safety standards “evolve with each new chemical that is added to banned lists, and it is critical that we remain up-to-date on this.” Imago retains a safety consultant who is involved in some of the legislation efforts to assist the team. “If a project is more than a simple book, we undertake risk assessments at a very early stage of product development so that we can help the client in redesigning any problematic areas or components,” Musk says.

In environmental protection and regulatory compliance, very few companies are more aggressive than Leo Paper. The company has been ISO 14001-accredited since 2001; 10 years later, it was recognized as an eco-factory by Marks & Spencer. Last year, Leo Paper was accredited with the China Environmental Labelling Products Certification, which focuses on controls of hazardous substances, factory pollutants, and environmental policy. “In line with our China market expansion plan, we also obtained the 3C Certification—China Compulsory Certification, which is comparable to the European CE Certification—a year ago,” says Andy Lau, Leo’s general manager for sales.

Protecting the Environment and Content

At C&C Offset, “printing for a sustainable future” is not just a vision for social responsibility, says Ken Lee, business development director. “It is also a corporate mind-set that pushes us to improve production efficiencies and reduce waste in all areas that we can think of. It is about sustainable development and green printing.”

C&C has continued to put in extensive management effort and investment to bring about environmentally friendly production, including the adoption of materials, technologies, and measures as well as equipment that controls volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. “Systems for central dampening supply for web presses, water treatment, and VOC purification are among those being changed or replaced for greener results,” Lee says.

At Hung Hing, improving energy efficiencies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a major initiative. “Most of our solvent-based raw materials have been replaced with water-based varnish, glue, and cleaning fluids, while our lighting has changed from the traditional T8 fluorescent to T5, and now LED,” notes Yum, whose upgrading projects over the past decade have received numerous environmental awards in Hong Kong and Guangdong. “The initial investments in the upgrades were high, but the ROI averaged less than two years,” adds Yum, who plans to implement new solutions to track and conserve energy and improve internal air quality and environment control, creating an improved workplace for Hung Hing employees.

Another top priority for print suppliers is protecting content against counterfeiting and piracy. Musk of Imago finds that it is an area of concern for publishers, especially for high-profile titles with wider global appeal. “We have worked on several movie tie-in projects recently, and we were able to provide the highest level of security at the factory for all processes, from file handling to delivery, including ensuring that waste sheets were secured prior to shredding,” Musk says.

To protect online content that supplements a book, Imago has added a Web key to the inside front cover. “It was a great solution for Black Dog & Leventhal’s The New York Times Book of the Dead,” Musk notes.

At CTPS, product protection and authentication is the goal of the company’s QR-code-enabled solutions Phygitalbook. Empowering publishers with back-end analytics to assess student performance and provide dashboards to stakeholders are just some of Phygitalbook’s features.

Getting in the Middle

Leveraging China’s growth in children’s books is a no-brainer for many print suppliers including Leo Paper, which counts many big-name overseas children’s product licensors as clients. “Local publishers want to offer a wider variety of well-known licensed products so as to be seen as ‘international’, but they have limited ways to reach the licensors,” says Lau, noting that local publishers also may not have the know-how to fully comply with the stringent requirements on quality, safety, information security, and image branding of producing licensed products.

Overseas publishers and licensors, eager to expand their China business, are looking not just for a licensing agent but a reliable partner “who can follow up, monitor manufacturing processes, and maintain their image branding,” Lau notes. “We know the local market and players and are familiar with licensed products and their licensors, and we are here to assist current clients in finding new opportunities. Licensing is one key area that can meet the demands coming from both China and overseas publishers.”

Lau adds: “We can provide constructive advice on maintaining printing and product quality to the locals and make the licensed products more suitable for sales in the China market in terms of pricing, design, construction and production. Overseas publishers can be assured of our commitment in upholding their quality requirements, information security, IP, and brand image. Our role is much more than what a licensing agent can offer.”

Pivoting to Keep Pace

In the educational and STM segments, adoption of the reduced-inventory model and digital ink-jet printing is gaining traction even as consolidation is heating up, observes John Currie, global business director of CTPS, whose major clients hail from the two segments. “Many of these reduced-inventory initiatives have no obvious placement cycles during the early implementation stages—and that requires flexibility on the print service delivery on our side,” Currie notes.

On the other hand, the ups and downs of the British pound and the euro have seen British and European publishers “continuing to weigh order-placement decisions with Hong Kong and China print manufacturers based on their currency strengths. We are seeing competitive prices from European printers such as those in Italy,” says Currie, who counts many high-end travel publishers as clients. Overcapacity, he adds, has led to unusual competition from Asian printers that are also looking at noncore segments. “Certain price-cutting strategies are undermining the whole industry,” he adds.

For CTPS, which is focused on mid- to short-run digital ink-jet printing, system interfacing is a unique challenge. “Publishers invariably have their own systems, ranging from SAP to IBS Bookmaster, and in many cases, they want to run a standard system that also differs from country to country,” Currie says. “If previously the publisher did one or two printings per year, now with reduced JIT inventory management they are looking at possibly 10–12 printings for the same period. This means that the publisher will need to allocate more resources to handle the short-runs and auto-replenishment. But with our cloud-based system and interface, CTPS can effectively take over this additional workload—and that is a compelling value proposition to our clients.”

CTPS is currently handling case-bound titles for library orders ranging from 200 to 500 titles. “Gang-running 25 copies is achievable while maintaining the price points,” Currie says. “The usual print run averages between 25 and 1,000 copies per title.”

Addressing Fundamental Issues

Material price fluctuations and supply stability are two other major issues for print suppliers, says Ken Kong, managing director of Jade Productions. “Paper merchants are reluctant to stock as [much] as they used to because of potential price drops and storage costs, which are now higher,” Kong notes. “But close relationships with several major print manufacturers have enabled us to store our stock in their warehouses, allowing us to maintain a level of stock for regular clients and provide better cost control—but it does affect our cash flow.”

For Lee of C&C Offset, fluctuating paper prices have a negative impact on production costs. “This is where our long-standing partnership with clients comes into play,” he says. “Their understanding enables us to provide alternative stocks, while our central purchasing unit exercises better controls over inventory levels and production costs.”

While paper prices have come down somewhat after increases earlier this year, there are still some price pressures on board, packaging, and cartoning materials, says Imago’s Musk. “This is due to limited recycled fiber supply and potential restrictions on recycled imports from the U.S. due to contamination concerns. There is also the high demand for corrugated packaging in China for consumer products.”

Low-priced competitors are another concern. Jade Production’s Kong notes that a new client recently sent in samples of finished products including a 32-page case-bound children’s book with saddle-stitched book blocks instead of saddle-sewn. “It was both unbelievable and disheartening to see a printer’s ethics and integrity going downhill,” Kong says. There is an urgent need to assist new clients to distinguish differences in quality and service levels in the print manufacturing industry. “Saving money while compromising on quality or service is simply not worth it,” Kong adds. “For small and medium-sized publishers looking to stay in the business, shoddily manufactured books are definitely not the way to go.”

For Jade Productions and the seven other export print manufacturers featured in this special report, quality is certainly not something that they will leave to chance.

Over time (or at least during the 31 years that PW has covered the Hong Kong/China printing industry), the roles of these print manufacturers have evolved to include that of eco-warriors, tech geeks, children’s protectors, creative thinkers, logistics experts, and IP champions. On the following pages, these eight suppliers share their observations on printing and publishing, ongoing corporate initiatives, and plans that will sharpen their competitive edge.

C&C Offset

For publishers eyeing the mainland China market for sales, here is a news alert: C&C will be launching its logistics and fulfillment services at the end of the year. “We will print the books in Shenzhen, and offer storage and order fulfillment services from our warehouse in the neighboring Nansha free-trade zone,” explains business development director Ken Lee, who has relocated back to Hong Kong after several years managing the company’s Shanghai printing and packaging businesses.

“By enabling publishers to store their titles here instead of shipping them back home and then shipping them out again to their Chinese clients, we will help them save money and increase their speed to market, which will in turn maximize their selling opportunities,” Lee explains. “Publishers may also use our online platform to list their books for the tens of millions of English book buyers in China—a market segment that has been growing exponentially in the last couple of years. We will work with relevant suppliers to deliver those books to the buyers.”

Meanwhile, the search for different solutions in traditional print production is ongoing. “It takes creativity to provide new solutions, and it does not have to be a new technology or a new piece of machinery,” says C&C assistant general manager Kit Wong. “For us, it can be as simple as harnessing our whole group’s expertise—in security, offset, and digital printing as well as packaging—and experience, of about 93 years in printing, to come out with new solutions. We continue to be amazed by the potential cross-over applications that can come out of our cumulative strength.”

Now that AR is widely used in the children’s book market, especially in China where the segment growth has been phenomenal, Wong finds that VR, conductive ink, and NFC (near-field communication) are value-added elements that publishers should consider for their products and for reaching new customers. “Thinking outside the box has helped us to offer new experiences, and make children’s books and titles from other segments feel fresh, more appealing, and in many cases, fun,” she says. “We have barely started on this.”

Business diversification is also ongoing. C&C’s stationery business, especially the masking tape line, has found newer and broader markets in China. “We are not just doing B2C but also B2B businesses through our online platform,” Lee says. “This growth has resulted in a better workflow from design to distribution, further expanding our market in this segment. We are totally focused on finding new opportunities to leverage our printing expertise.”

C&C Offset
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Operational restructuring is the buzzword at CTPS. “With smaller print runs from educational and professional publishers—which are our core clients—and heightened demand for a reduced-inventory and rapid-replenishment business model, we have to adjust our operations accordingly,” says CEO Peter Tse, adding that these factors have also pushed more volumes to the company’s digital ink-jet printing business.

In fact, CTPS’s digital sales are set to grow nearly 50% this year, with expansion expected throughout 2018. “It is business as usual on the offset printing side as we continue to serve clients in the niche segment of lightweight high-page count STM, Bible, and reference materials,” adds Tse, who is working on a much leaner manufacturing model to improve process efficiencies.

Early this year, CTPS embarked on a partnership with a large U.S. printing conglomerate because, as global business director John Currie puts it, “the shifts in the print supply chain make it the logical thing to do. Increased manufacturing costs, lower print runs, and shorter delivery times, for instance, have seen publishers looking into region-based manufacturing and logistical support, and such partnerships are a win-win solution.”

CTPS, the first print manufacturer in Asia Pacific to venture into digital ink-jet printing back in 2011, is also a pioneer in anti-counterfeiting solutions. Last year, it launched Phygitalbook, a QR-code labeling technology for brand protection that also provides authentication and track-and-trace capabilities to enable publishers to monitor inventory from distributors and third-party channels. “This encrypted solution is most effective with international student editions, which have always been targets of piracy,” adds Currie, who will be demoing Phygitalbook at the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair.

“Phygitalbook goes beyond anticounterfeiting,” Currie explains. “Our first adopter, Hong Kong-based educational publisher Marshall Cavendish, is using the QR codes to link physical books to their LMS. The back-end of this solution, which is the data analytics portion, then kicks in to track student learning and offer actionable business intelligence. The intrinsic values and potential revenue stream coming from this solution is something that is clear to our client.” (Currie and his team are currently running tests on replacing access cards with Phygitalbook for another client.)

For Tse, CTPS is well placed to meet the demands of a fast-changing publishing industry, where digital ink-jet printing has become more acceptable. “Even the most skeptical print buyers cannot ignore the strides made by the application of high-definition nozzle architecture in high-end print quality,” he says. “And remolding CTPS operations to suit digital or anticounterfeiting demands is not just practical but crucial to our clients and their businesses.”

Learn about Phygitalbook QR technology for student interface and e-learning.

Hung Hing

A new building, which adds a 270,000-sq.-ft. production area to Hung Hing’s Heshan manufacturing facility, is set to be fully operational within the next nine months. “The whole facility of five buildings will be RFID-enabled for better tracking of new material pallets, and work-in-progress and finished goods,” says chief operating officer Richard Lim, adding that all Hung Hing manufacturing sites have started adopting Industry 4.0’s smart-factory model this year. “The production floors will be segmentized into manufacturing zones of different products with streamlined equipment and workflows to achieve leaner manufacturing processes.”

For next year, the major focus will be on enhancing the company’s children’s and novelty book production as well as innovating its deluxe rigid-box manufacturing business. “We have continued to invest in automation to increase productivity and negate rising labor costs,” Lim says. “We are also working with sound-and-light module suppliers to develop new products—including voice-activated capabilities and touch-sensitive technologies—that are aimed at the novelty book segment.”

Warehousing and distribution are now a part of the Hung Hing end-to-end service chain. “By tapping on our Hong Kong-based warehousing facility, we can now store and distribute to destinations throughout Asia Pacific,” says Christopher Yum, Hung Hing commercial director. “This means that clients do not have to incur additional costs shipping products back to their home country while reducing shipping time, thereby cutting down on their carbon footprints.”

Another value-added service that has shown tremendous growth and potential comes from Hung Hing’s foreign-rights division. “Our team functions as the middleperson, helping to coordinate rights trading between publishers from the West and China,” Yum says. “This has enabled our publishing clients to gain an entry into the Chinese publishing markets with minimal cost and effort,” adds Yum, whose foreign rights team has recently launched book design and illustration services. “We are acting as a bridge to help Chinese publishers who are starting to look at creating their own titles and IPs with resources and ideas from external parties.”

At the same time, subsidiary company Beluga (the brand behind Bridging Book technology-enabled publications) is working on IP protection on behalf of publishers. “Through its collaboration with a security solution specialist, Beluga offers Super QR code—a unique anti-counterfeiting measure that also tracks and traces a product while providing the necessary data analytics for better business planning,” explains executive chairman Matthew Yum. “This solution is in high demand in the packaging business due to the rise in counterfeit products in the F&B and health care sectors.” Hung Hing in recent months has also added two digital postpress machines (one Scodix and one Highcon) to offer higher-value finishing for both packaging and publishing clients.

Hung Hing
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China is, and will remain, Imago’s core location for print manufacturing, says president and CEO Howard Musk. “But we are making more use of facilities across Asia to offer different solutions depending on formats, schedules, and content,” he adds. “For instance, since we cannot print the history titles of an educational series in China, we had the project done in Malaysia.” Imago also partners with European printers to offer solutions for projects with shorter deadlines.

Trendwise, unique binding styles, intricate die cutting, and unusual cover materials continue to fascinate publishers that are keen to enhance the physical qualities of their titles. “Aside from this being a positive sign for the industry, it is also a lot of fun in helping publishers be creative,” says Musk, who has seen more clients getting into the very high-end limited editions market with significantly higher retail prices. “There have always been a few smaller publishers in this particular segment, but some larger general publishers—in the music, cooking, and fiction segments, for instance—are joining the fun,” he notes.

Repurposing content, Musk adds, is also becoming popular with publishers taking existing picture books and creating new packages with plush toys, bath books, or cloth books.

Digital printing is not big at Imago, where Musk sees a role for it in proofing and marketing materials. “We can now economically produce just a few case-bound copies at the early proofing stages, and use those copies instead of traditional sales blads. We also use digital printing to add unique codes to educational books for access to online content,” adds Musk, whose team has been working closely with prepress and proofing company Bright Arts on the new Fogra 51/52 data sets in recent months.

The new data sets, Musk adds, “are a great improvement as they deal with the common issue of optical brighteners in papers, and it was something that previous data sets could not manage.” He notes, “In general, the move to these new color management profiles has been a bit slow as it requires some new equipment, but the results are much improved.”

For Musk, the overall print manufacturing market continues to be competitive and trend-driven. “We aim to be broad-based in the range of products that we can handle, and that helps us to be nimble in keeping up with clients’ needs,” he says. “There is also a general trend for publishers to reduce the number of suppliers they work with. At Imago, we offer a single-supplier stop—one point of contact service—for a large part of a publisher’s printing requirements.”

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Jade Productions

Increased self-publishing activities have seen Jade Productions managing director Ken Kong and his team working directly with authors and designers who are used to print-on-demand. “With their limited exposure to offset printing and conventional binding methods, they may not realize, for instance, that the overall manufacturing cost for 200 copies is only marginally less than a 500-copy order,” Kong notes. “They may also ask for a 26-page book quotation, not knowing that section-sewn requires multiples of four.”

In some instances, Kong finds that the designers may restrict themselves to either CMYK processes or one-color black ink and may not even consider two- or three-color Pantone printing. “And this is where Jade Productions comes in with suggestions and advice,” Kong says. “We always request sample pages for evaluation from potential clients. In many cases, slight file modifications will make the end product look much better and the production process smoother.”

Also helpful are suggestions from the Jade team on shipping options dealing with small orders. “While the minimum charge for ocean freight to major seaports is not expensive, the inland delivery cost—which includes customs clearing—can be as little as $200 for London, or as high as $800 for some remote areas in the U.S.,” Kong explains. “In such cases, we recommend door-to-door courier service, which is the best solution to save time and cost.”

The above examples emphasize the need for a print broker such as Jade to offer services that are not just wide-ranging but also customized to fit the individual client. Adds Kong: “Routine questions aside, it is essential to find out what the client really wants, the target audience, or intended price points, for instance. The client may not be aware of something more suitable or available, and suggestions from our side are often practical, if not cost-saving.”

In the early days of offshore print manufacturing, publishers used brokers to cut down on the need to deal with different parties involved in their projects, Kong recalls. “It was about simplifying their work. It was also a time when printers were less enthusiastic about looking for third-party accessory suppliers or getting involved in the logistical side of a project once the printing was done. Now the printers are much more flexible, which is mostly due to the intense market competition. At Jade Productions, we offer personalized service, long-term partnership, and plenty of hand-holding—the same things we have been offering since we started 31 years ago.”

Jade Productions
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Leo Paper Group

Several big projects are under way to shape Leo Paper’s future at the outset of its 35th anniversary, with transforming and upgrading to become an Industry 4.0 smart manufacturer the main goal.

“Strengthening and enhancing new and re-engineered processes over the next two years is one of our key corporate policies,” says director Alvin Lai, pointing out that “upgrading our manpower and operational management will enable our personnel to move away from unnecessary and non-value-added daily processes to value-creating tasks to meet future development needs.”

This year also marks Leo Paper’s 10th year of lean implementation and reform strategy. “Given the market pressures and challenges, we have prioritized improving efficiencies, minimizing waste, and reducing labor dependence to maintain our competitiveness,” adds Lai, noting that Leo Paper is a lean manufacturing pioneer in China’s printing industry. “It builds the foundation for us to upgrade current manufacturing operations to Industry 4.0, where the tools will further help us to realize our lean philosophy.” TPM+E (total productive maintenance plus efficiency), says Lai, “is essential to supporting our long-term production automation, capacity, and productivity enhancement goals.”

By aligning Made in China 2025 (a government-driven plan to comprehensively upgrade the country’s industries) with Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiatives, Leo Paper has been connecting machines, processes, data, and people to optimize overall production. “Real-time data management can support smart manufacturing, enabling rapid responses to dynamic changes and decision-making that are based on scientific and objective information sources,” adds Lai, whose team is working on smart logistics, the building block of Industry 4.0. “With further R&D and adoption of new equipment such as robots and automated guided vehicles, we aim to achieve unmanned logistics in the long run.”

At the upcoming Frankfurt fair, Leo will launch Magic Paper World, “a host of unique offerings to make paper products more inspiring and engaging through our innovation, new technologies, and paper engineering expertise,” says Henry Woo, general manager of the company’s OEM business department. Licensed-character Rody (accompanied by LeoTouch secondary processes for case-bound books) will also make its debut at the fair. “Rody will inspire clients with ideas on mixing-and-matching of innovative processes to characters of their own or from their licensed partners,” Woo adds. “Or they can obtain the right to use Rody in their markets.”

In order to achieve its goals and growth in the coming years, supply chain collaboration is all-important, Lai says: “Sustainable growth needs win-win-win results for clients, Leo Paper, and suppliers. Complex and fast-changing market situations call for strengthened collaboration among partners because individual strength alone, no matter how secure, is simply not enough.”

Leo Paper Group
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Magnum Offset

For nearly 31 years, Magnum Offset has made offering clients technical solutions and professional advice—often unsolicited—a part of its operational process (and success). “Our overriding philosophy is to go the extra mile to offer a better way of finishing off a project, or circumvent any potential manufacturing issues,” says overseas sales manager Alice Fan.

One recent project involving a mirrorlike cover material prompted Fan and her team to advise the client to add gloss lamination. “The multiple processes and passes through mounting and binding machines are certain to scratch and dent such material, and gloss lamination prevents such blemishes while giving it a very high-end finish, she notes. For another project using black velvet material from France, the production team gloved up to keep dust off the cover and shrink-wrapped each copy for shipping.

“Above all, we want to ensure the best products possible for our clients and their clients, and therefore, every little step counts,” Fan adds, pointing out that the team’s “innovative mind-set, motivation, and dedication to clients and their projects have been integral to Magnum’s success and longevity.” She notes, “Word by mouth from these satisfied clients has enabled us to expand our portfolio and market far and wide.”

Meanwhile, offering integrated services under one roof has been a major drive at Magnum in the past year. “We have invested considerably in state-of-the-art color management workflow and machineries, ranging from plating to multifunctional folding equipment,” says Fan, adding that Magnum’s production floor is “optimized for ultra-short projects with stringent quality requirements such as IPO brochures, annual reports, financial statements, magazines, high-end books, and packaging projects.”

Further development of the company’s in-house direct-mailing capabilities “is another step toward offering clients better control of their projects, specifically in scheduling and cost management,” says Percy Leung, overseas sales team member.

With clients expecting immediate response to inquiries—“using WhatsApp and instant messaging instead of emailing or faxing and waiting to hear back hours later”—Fan and her team are now offering to capture the entire production process on video and sending that to their clients. “They can skip the flights to do press checks here, and save the airfare for other projects,” Fan notes. “The whole idea is to allow clients to monitor every step of their project as it moves through the production floor. In fact, our whole operation is configured to eliminate time-zone differences and communication barriers while offering transparency at the same time.”

Magnum Offset
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Shenzhen Jinhao Color Printing

The urgent need to forge better communications and closer ties with clients has seen Shenzhen Jinhao busy setting up sales offices outside of China in recent months. Given that 40% of its overseas sales come from Europe and the U.S., 30% from Latin America, and 15% from Australia, this strategic move is totally in keeping with the company’s fast-growing export business.

On the eve of its sixth anniversary, the company has embarked on a multipronged approach to make its operations and expertise known to more publishers around the world. “Aside from setting up offices in our major markets to ease offshoring jitters and improve client-supplier relationship via face-to-face communication, we will also be making our presence felt at major book fairs in Bologna, Guadalajara, London, Frankfurt, and New York—or Chicago—this year and in coming years,” says general manager Rose Liu.

A part of the China-based Jinhao Printing Group, which offers offset printing and packaging through its three subsidiaries, Shenzhen Jinhao has been working with overseas clients since 2012. The bulk of its business comes from servicing publishers in educational books, children’s titles, cookbooks, and photo albums. Its five-story factory in Shenzhen has just added two new presses (one one-color and one eight-color) and new folding, sewing, casing, and laminating machines.

“Shenzhen Jinhao is a newcomer in an already-crowded offshore print manufacturing marketplace—that we are very much aware of,” Liu says. “While getting new clients and spreading the word are the keys to carving our market space, a lot more hinges on our honesty, reliability, and capabilities in meeting client requirements. That, and ensuring customer satisfaction at all time, will ensure our survival and longevity.”

But communication remains the biggest hurdle. “In a crowded marketplace, it is hard to get your voice heard loud and clear,” Liu adds. “Convincing the publishing client to place the first order with Shenzhen Jinhao comes next. These two need to go together or else the client will not be able to experience our honesty, reliability, or capability.”

Liu points out that small- and medium-size independent publishers are more open to trying out the company’s services. “The process will take time, and we are going to be here for the long haul—which is also something that we are communicating to potential clients.”

Shenzhen Jinhao’s ability to offer value-added services through its printing and packaging expertise is a plus. “With publishers looking for innovative packaging ideas for box sets and book-plus items, Shenzhen Jinhao is well placed to offer such solutions with competitive pricing, efficient service, and high quality.”

Shenzhen Jinhao Color Printing
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Project Showcase


The client’s decision, prior to reprinting, to increase the book’s length—from 32 pages with a single tip-in sheet to 56 pages with two tip-ins—would have been a non-issue if not for its binding requirements. “This book uses 160 gsm and 280 gsm stock for its content and cover, respectively, and 180 gsm translucent sheet tip-ins,” explains Alice Fan, Magnum overseas sales manager. “These add up to a significant increase in thickness, and unfortunately, the sewing machine can only handle up to six mm—or about 40 pages of this book—without breaking the needle. We tried, and offered, different binding configurations despite the time and budget constraints, and our client ultimately went for Japanese binding for the reprints timed for her photography exhibition.”

Wake Up the Dragon Installation

C&C Offset’s expertise in creating children’s audiobooks has recently crossed over to event marketing activities. Last month, at the Hong Kong Pulse Light Show, the C&C team built a large-scale circuit board for an interactive game called “Wake Up the Dragon.” The game required eight participants to power up (by pedaling) and activate an alarm clock that awakened a cheerful 60-ft.-long dragon. There were light and sound effects coming from the dragon, accompanied by a 3-D projection of a Hong Kong panorama onto the Clock Tower, a 260-ft. heritage landmark facing the island’s waterfront.

Adoption of Phygitalbook at Marshall Cavendish

“With Phygitalbook, our printed books are now seamlessly integrated with online learning services aimed at providing teachers and students with comprehensive online/offline teaching/learning experience,” says Sharon Wong, general manager and publisher of Marshall Cavendish Education (Hong Kong).

With each printed book now having a unique digital identity, capturing statistics on individual learning outcomes is possible. “Our LMS analyzes and anticipates learning trouble spots, personalizes the learning process, and improves learner results,” adds Wong. “We can help a teacher identify struggling learners and provide appropriate support, tools, and assistance.” Phygitalbook allows for ability-based individualized learning paths—simpler or more complex than another student’s—to be taken. “This adaptive learning approach opens up student pathways, encouraging student voice and choice in their education,” Wong adds.

Pop-Up Christmas Tree

For a Christmas promotional package for Tokyo Disneyland Resort, Hung Hing’s paper engineers had to create something unique and innovative as well as environmentally friendly. “The Christmas tree—made entirely of paper to keep it ‘green’—can be flattened and nicely packed inside a box, which also holds the candies and goodies,” says product development manager Nicholas Yum. “The box is also sufficiently reinforced in order to support the popped-up tree,” adds Yum, whose team had to meet the stringent quality control requirements demanded by the Japanese market. “When this was launched, the design attracted a lot of attention, with many impressed by the promotional pack’s dual-purpose engineering. For us, it marked yet another breakthrough design with high-quality finishing.”

The Case of Beasts

“To start with, this fun-but-challenging project required the highest level of security since the release was tied to the movie premiere,” says Howard Musk, Imago president and CEO. “The book case also needed the look-and-feel of Newt’s suitcase with intricate stamping, embossing, UV-varnishing, and a magnetic closure. Then there were various ephemera from the movie—Newt’s wanted poster in an envelope and Tina’s lenticular ID card for the Magical Congress, for instance—that was tipped into the book.” To preserve the integrity of the base pages, all tip-in areas were carefully printed with the background images from the pages they were affixed to. Last but not least, the Imago team had to coordinate 14 different language editions—totaling 350,000 copies—simultaneously.

Queen in 3D

This new title from astrophysicist Brian May—better known as the guitarist for the rock band Queen—contains 300-plus photographs (mostly in 3-D) with a slipcase that combines offset printing with eye-catching gold foil-stamping and a lenticular image of the group’s late lead singer, Freddie Mercury. “The less-expensive version with the Lite Owl Viewer was more challenging to produce, as we had to figure out a way to incorporate the viewer seamlessly into the book itself,” says Ken Kong, Jade managing director. “The final solution was to mount a holding card with the Lite Owl Viewer onto the back cover, and design the card in such a way that the viewer can be taken out and stowed back neatly.”

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

The 2017 edition is the ninth collaboration between Leo Paper and Ripley Entertainment. “Every year, our client asks for a unique and eye-catching cover design, and we deliver,” says general manager for sales Andy Lau, whose team was involved in the product development process from the beginning. “This allows us to provide innovative ideas and value-added suggestions to speed up the design and development stages,” Lau says. “We suggested mixing and matching LeoTouch secondary processes—which are developed in-house and ready for customization—to meet Ripley’s specific needs. Our team also proactively sourced alternative foil patterns to achieve more outstanding effects, and reworked the full-color graphic into a scintillating 3-D cover using our in-house lenticular process.”