Working around pandemic-induced constraints has been keeping Jade Productions managing director Ken Kong busy. With cross-border travel restrictions still in place, his team is unable to visit factories in mainland China to supervise the manufacturing process. And while the pandemic is largely under control within Hong Kong, with most workers having returned to the office, Kong and his team continue to limit the number of visits to business partners.

“Our decision, made at the start of the pandemic, is to only use print partners that we have worked with very closely in recent years,” Kong says. “Unless we have total confidence that the partner can meet our requirements without in-person supervision, we won’t be using their services. In instances where we are unable to execute on-site press checks, the complete set of printed sheets will be sent to our Hong Kong office for approval prior to our greenlighting the binding process.”

Kong is encouraging clients to let his team handle the pre-press process for better scheduling and quality control. “But,” Kong says, “if a client supplies his or her own color proofs together with the files, then we make sure that the client understands that our color profile—which is calibrated to that of our printing partner’s—will be used to avoid any discrepancies on the press and potential client-supplier conflicts.” (Check out the online article “Deciding Between Wet and Digital Proofs”.)

Over the years (35 to be exact), Jade Productions has excelled in providing affordable and creative solutions to publishers with nonstandard book formats and unique specifications. “Our clients are mostly small and independent houses as well as self-published authors, and their books must be differentiated from those by big publishers in order to stand out on the bookshelves,” says Kong, adding that “I often ask clients to share their thoughts and ideas with us as early in the project development process as possible, which will enable us to seek, suggest, and plan for the most cost effective alternatives to achieve the results that they are looking for.”

More often than not, clients are very conservative and not willing to commit to orders or quantities until the very last minute. “So ‘unpredictability’ is another challenge alongside current rising paper costs and logistics issues,” Kong says. “Just today, numerous pending projects have been confirmed and the publishers are now asking for best-schedule predictions.”

“These same clients know—and trust—our commitment to their projects and our levels of quality and service,” Kong says. “Most of them have been with Jade Productions for a very long time. We are old friends and not mere business acquaintances, and such relationships mean a lot to us as well as to them.”