MB: Are there things you can do to prepare for the postal rate increase in 2006?
Harap: Work closely with your circulation staff, work closely with your printer. Make sure they're moving in the right direction with co-mailing, co-palletization. Cut your trim sizes, your paper weight. Be proactive so that when something finally happens, you're not surprised.
MB: Do you think, in the last five years, management has been more willing to listen to production directors?
Harap: Absolutely. We're the first people they come to when they need to cut money.
MB: How much tighter can production departments get with their money?
Harap: I don't know. The industry goes through cycles. We've been tight now for five or six years. You look at your trim size, you look at your paper weight.
MB: What would inspire a publisher to go the other way at this point?
Harap: The only real reason you go back is a redesign. But any decision like that is based on the numbers. Would you increase paper weight? If so, would we get the appropriate revenue to cover that? I also think it's been harder to even imagine rolling back some of the tightness because once you get through all the paper increases happening, you'll have the postal rate increase in 2006, so you have to pay attention to the money you can actually control.
-Mark J. Miller