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We can do it

Sep 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Thanks to Stephen Sondheim and Elaine Stritch, I was familiar with “Ladies Who Lunch.” But I only just learned about “Girls Who Print,” a LinkedIn group founded about a year ago. (Thanks to Concord Litho for sharing the news on its Twitter feed.)

First things first. Men are welcome to join “Girls Who Print.” “We have fun teasing them,” says Mary Beth Smith, the group's founder. “If they can stand the heat, we're glad to have them in the kitchen.”

Smith, a 20-year veteran of the print industry created the group to learn more about how LinkedIn works. She expected 25 people to join the discussion group. Currently there are 1,400 Girls Who Print from around the world. “It's gratifying and fascinating,” says Smith. “[I thought] it would be a few girls with a place to chat and share best practices. It's evolved far beyond that.”

You go, girl!

This past June, Smith invited Dallas-area members to a reception. About 60 people attended. “Dallas Printerati MOBBED the place,” Smith reported on the “Girls Who Print” Facebook page. “[It] spilled over into two extra rooms — ate, drank, laughed and didn't want to leave! Definitely doing this again! We're good people!”

Smith is the vice president of sales and marketing for AlphaGraphics — Park Cities, North Dallas, SMU. “I started working in the industry close to 20 years ago as an account executive,” she says. “I knew immediately this was my cup of tea.”

Smith's LinkedIn profile offers further evidence of her enthusiasm for ink on paper.

“I love my industry,” she wrote. “I get to work with people and projects from every industry imaginable. I enjoy researching new products, training, teaching, and, hopefully, inspiring!”

Noting that she has worked on everything from small business card orders to complex six-figure printing and packaging projects, Smith observed that printing processes “have continued to evolve over the last 15 years, but the basic needs of the customer are constant: A knowledgeable, customer-friendly, dependable printing partner. My job is to make sure the marketplace knows my company is filled with real people who listen to their project needs, provide the ideas and products to execute them, and throw in a lot of good old-fashioned customer service in the process!”

A change is gonna come

I found a similar zest for print in a message from Werner Rebsamen, our longtime postpress contributor who recently celebrated his 75th birthday. Rebsamen sent me one of those viral e-mails titled, “Changes are coming.” I couldn't ascertain the author, but it sounds like the electronic equivalent of an old man complaining about kids today.

The e-mail cites nine changes we can anticipate in areas ranging from music to privacy. Naturally, books are changing: “You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages,” declares the writer. “I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard-copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.”

Rebsamen's response is characteristically cheerful, yet pragmatic. “In 1950, I was told not get into the book trade, because we now have television and people will no longer read books,” he recalls. “Just the opposite did happen. True, we now have electronic books but other segments in our industry are not only growing, they are exploding — printing books on demand and binding photo books, etc. At my age, it's best to stay in good health, watch the birds and enjoy every day. The future will always change things; otherwise we still would be living in caves. Our generation did see so much progress it is almost unbelievable. That is why we must be thankful for … having had the privilege to be part of such incredible changes in technologies.”

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