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printshop

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Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2014, 06:59:36 am »

I made an account so I can ask questions on this asset. First off I like to say that I work on production printing machine along with print shops that produce into the millions of prints per week.

Thank you for your advice. We don't own a perfect binding machine. However, since we have such good contact with several local schools, it might be a good idea to pick up a cheap binding machine ($200? $300?) and at least start doing "communication books" (parent-teacher communication books) and things like that. At least, to judge the market and what we can make doing it.

The big issue with the laserjets is that they can hold 100 index cards in their multipurpose tray. The RICOH and other printers/copiers (even the bigger machines) simply can't handle material that small. And once you start cutting paper, you need more machines and more human labor. It may be cost effective to simply order more 3015-grade printers than go for something larger. Then again, if we wanted to do any serious A4 printing and cutting you're right, we can get a better machine. There is actually a local bindery who will lease or sell us some of their RICOH machines, but it's not something we really need right now. That is also how we do cutting and perfect binding, we outsource it to the bindery. My plan is, to use the laserjets for now since they cover our requirements, and if things kick up even further we can look at some of the bigger machines. Our cost savings right now will have more to do with ordering stock in bulk for 50%-80% off than reducing cost per copy.

But since you mentioned it I might pick up a color machine. Actually, color flashcards are something I'd like to explore.

Now that you have mentioned the details of production capacity and cost per print I think I might be able to take over the local print shop. They have mainly RICOH machines and they are quite old.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 09:05:54 am by printshop »
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printshop

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Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2014, 07:59:37 am »

+1440 to everything WhatNXT said. :)

I sent him 100 shares for his good ideas. I would never have thought to promote my company that way. When I mentioned "advertising" I meant advertising of our products.

Also, are you working on a website for this?  I'd love to invest more, but I need to feel more trust in the organization.  I hope you understand.

I've updated the OP to contain more links to our webpage. There is a link at the top, and our webpage is included in the "Promoter" section as well as referenced again at the bottom of the page now. Thanks.

There are a couple of blog post ideas I'm working on. I have some photos of books and what-not that we've done that aren't posted up yet. I'll try to get them up this weekend, but it's a conscious effort to log into wordpress with all the stuff flying around here.

I guess I understand that there are trust issues in the community. All I can really do is post pictures and place some supporting buy orders. But I will say this (businessman hat on, now!) the best way to know we are for real is to order one of our products. I could ship you a sample, say 100 cards, for free. The deal with "free" is you would post that you received the cards, comment on their quality and design, etc. Not an endorsement of the company, but just so people can see we actually do have a product to sell.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 09:05:44 am by printshop »
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cobaltskky

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2014, 10:45:57 am »

Thanks for updating the OP!  I wouldn't mind at all posting about your product.  Are you talking business cards or something else?
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printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2014, 12:37:28 pm »

Thanks for updating the OP!  I wouldn't mind at all posting about your product.  Are you talking business cards or something else?

I was thinking of some random flashcards we have, but we can do business cards too. If you have a design you can post it to me here in PM or at printshop@kongzi.ca.

Kitchentable

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2014, 01:21:01 pm »

That makes sense now. I was confused into thinking you were doing perfect binding in house which can be costly. You are doing the right thing and out sourcing until it becomes less cost effective to do so. I have a print shop that does the very same setup and it does well for them.

Color is a huge selling point. I have a shop that is able to print color index cards with a machine no bigger than those laserjets and for the same cost at a much faster rate. I haven't looked at the machine much so I'll probably go by and ask them about it.
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cobaltskky

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2014, 01:55:43 pm »

No design, but random flashcards works. Will they be in mandarin? :)
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printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2014, 02:03:06 pm »

No design, but random flashcards works. Will they be in mandarin? :)

I'll send you a PM about it.

printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2014, 04:47:22 am »

No design, but random flashcards works. Will they be in mandarin? :)

I'm happy to report that your set is done now, and I will be going out to ship it to you right now.

I took the opportunity to custom design the set for you and I'm going to use it as the base for a new Chinese to English series I'm working on. During the design of this set I faced several nightmare-class layout problems, one of which will become the subject of my next blog post.

I eagerly await your review and hope you won't be too hard on us!

cobaltskky

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2014, 07:40:23 am »

No design, but random flashcards works. Will they be in mandarin? :)

I'm happy to report that your set is done now, and I will be going out to ship it to you right now.

I took the opportunity to custom design the set for you and I'm going to use it as the base for a new Chinese to English series I'm working on. During the design of this set I faced several nightmare-class layout problems, one of which will become the subject of my next blog post.

I eagerly await your review and hope you won't be too hard on us!

I will certainly be fair! :)
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printshop

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Re: [ANN] Kongzi Print Shop
« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2014, 03:45:37 am »

Oh dear. Although I have settled on the HP m651dn they are simply not available here. It will take four weeks to import. And the import charge is what you might call exorbitant. However, I have just about enough funds to order one now. Before I pull the trigger, I've asked my HP dealer to give me a list of what I can get right now. In all possibility I can pick up last year's model for a cheaper price (and it will be just as good). While I wait I thought I'd ask you guys for some short advice on printers.

I am interested in people's experience with high-end printers -- particularly Epson , which I have been hearing good things about. Kitchentable in particular, if you've heard anything, that would help me. I'm looking at the AL-C500dn or the Epson Workforce (ink) models since I've heard they have a lower cpp than laser. The key factors here are duplex printing on 3x5s and the size of the multipurpose tray. In that capacity the AL-C500dn has the Workforce printers beat. I've calculated the cost per page to be close to 1 cent for both the WorkForce and the AL series. The HP printers are a little cheaper, esp. the 806 (but that printer is only monochrome).

Thanks for any advice. I am dying to see how fast the new printer is going to be. I have dreams about this. Putting a whole stack of index cards into the MPT and having them print on both sides in just two or three minutes. For Sebastian123, I can tell you that once we get the new printer, I'll be able to cover demand a bit more and we will move from about 4,000 index cards a month to about 7,000. I can also tell you that a fast duplex printer with a large card tray has the potential of lowering our cost per card by 2 to 3 cents. This is a linerar business, our gross sales are based entirely on how much we sell. The printers I am looking at have a maximum monthly capacity of over 20,000 flashcards so I am not worried about expansion. I'm liking this a lot more than an array of cheaper 1102s. I think once we can print more we will get more jobs.

printshop

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Re: [ANN] Kongzi Print Shop
« Reply #30 on: September 04, 2014, 06:38:12 pm »

Quick update Re: HP m651dn vs Epson Workforce

Great news all around guys. We've sold enough shares to buy the printer and relocate. The relocation will be a little tight but I am banking on us selling a few more shares between now and then. I am setting a target for occupation of the new space October First.

Ok! So the PRINTER! The printer, the printer! hahaha, yes, the printer! The HP m551dn, which I can get for less than half the cost of the 651dn. And, it's in stock! The RMPV is a little lower but this will not impact us for quite some time. The cpp is a little higher but if I buy toner from Xerox (nice move selling HP toner, Xerox) I can cut cpp down to around the level of the new Epson workforce printers.

The new kid on the block though is definitely the Epson Workforce with the new precisioncore technology. These printers are unbelievably cheap and have a LOW cost per page, but the input tray mechanism makes me upset. Going with the workforce would save us a fraction of a cent per card. But they have only an 80 card MPT which means I'd have to keep eyes on the the machine. I may pick one up as a backup printer though. They have wireless too. Which I like. Actually the high end OfficeJets have the same cpp as the new workforce printers. I'd go with the OfficeJets but they only have a 50 card MPT. So the m551 looks like a clear winner here.

This is exciting. I'm going to go pick one up tomorrow morning if I can. They're in stock.

When I walk into that store, I am going to be listening to the theme from Rocky on my mpsan.

cobaltskky

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2014, 10:59:07 am »

I'll buy a little more stock to help with the relocation. :)
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printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2014, 01:30:29 pm »

I'll buy a little more stock to help with the relocation. :)

Thanks. Company news is getting a little fragmented since I made a post with company updates on bitcointalk. When the printer arrives tomorrow I'll take some pictures and post a complete update on the blog. The post will also be linked in Monday's dividend announcement.

I just checked the tracking number I gave you and it looks like they are being lazy at the post office. This has happened before but it's unusual. I'll go there tomorrow and remind them to send it. If you need I can give you a scan of the receipt with the tracking number on it dated Sept. 1st. Sorry about the delay :/

cobaltskky

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #33 on: September 05, 2014, 01:46:33 pm »

It's no worries, my friend. :)  I do appreciate your diligence and motivation in this regard!

Can't wait to see the pics. :)  Do you have pics up of your current space and future space?
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printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2014, 05:05:56 am »

It's no worries, my friend. :)  I do appreciate your diligence and motivation in this regard!

Can't wait to see the pics. :)  Do you have pics up of your current space and future space?

Pictures coming soon.



  • We will be able to immediately increase our volume by 3,000 cards per month.

Do you have demand to sell that many more cards each month?

I would say yes. For 100 students, one card per per day is 3,000 cards per month. The school I work for in the evenings has 120 students, and I've been showing the cards to the boss. She agrees that it's a good idea. She is getting behind me on this a little too, and has offered me some free storage space (see below) as part of the payment for the cards. That works! I also work closely with a K/Pre-K school which could bump us up another few thousand cards. Thirdly to this, occasionally work comes around from other schools in the form of a book order or flashcards for something else. This is how we make money now. I am trying to sell this idea to a couple of major chain schools. If we could produce flashcards for a major chain school, things will go boom very fast. This is one possible endgame for what we're doing right now.

But the more design IP we have the more sets we will sell. For example, consider the new JLPT set I am working on. More than half a million people took the JLPT in China and Japan last year. This is in a society where freaked out students under extreme social pressure have killed themselves because they failed their college entrance exams. I'm being serious now, it's true. The point is, language, learning, is valuable here. In fact it's more than that. If my JLPT business is any worse than my current English business I'll eat my hat. What's more, we own the market. The JLPT exam was changed in 2010 and they purposefully did not publish a curriculum. There's no modern Japanese textbook in English which is targeted for the modern N5 except the one we have. (A "good" japanese textbook isn't good enough if it teaches some words which aren't on the JLPT and misses some which are). We can translate this book into Chinese, too. There are no JLPT N5/English flashcards. There are no JLPT N5/Chinese flashcards. There are no N5 readers. But we have designed a N5 reader which is accessible to people with just 15% of the N5 vocabulary. In short if we act on this we can own that end of the market internationally. I feel that is very big.

What happens when we start putting this stuff up on amazon, tw.mall.yahoo.com, pchome.com.tw? Kmall360.com, suning.com? 51buy.com? dangdang.com? Amazon China? jd.com (listed on nasdaq, it's huge), or tmall (run by alibaba) not to mention alibaba itself? As you can see I am gearing up for this. Now that we have the printer I can think about putting together something for a couple of these sites.

whatnxt suggested that I start selling business cards to community members but honestly, it's not going to do anything for our business. I can't see us actually taking more than a handful of orders, and as you can see I will be quite busy maintaining orders on the top online shopping sites. I think instead I'll just give away business cards at cost to community members. That would be a better idea. Good publicity.


What we have:
1. Printer (Just arrived -- pictures coming soon)
2. Office Space (We have been given two FREE 4m x 7m rooms on the top floor of a school, which are currently unused!!!!! <---- This is something of a game changer. I'm still considering if we should even bother with an office. See below) Oh, and I'll be sure to snap some pictures of this space this afternoon.

What we need:
1. Office Furniture (3000 shares, low priority, only if we get an office)
2. $3000 worth of laminating pouches (http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/A4-laminating-pockets-250micron_731716804.html) ~6,000 shares
3. a million index cards (http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/wholesale-white-paper-plain-index-card_1234903204.html) ~5,000 shares
4. Advertising budget (probably a couple thousand shares, not sure).

Now that we have the printer we're focused on moving into the new office. My target for occupancy is october first. ***Edit: I just talked to the boss of a school I work for which has just opened a new branch. They have 4 floors, the top floor is currently unused and has two large rooms and a bathroom (and a patio). I've been granted access for whatever. This would be a PERFECT storage space for the bulk orders mentioned above, with the only real downside being how to get several tons of paper and plastic up there, and then back down again. But it certainly has money saving potential. I will explore how much we need to spend on an office vs. an office and storage space. But it may just be better in the long run to get the storage space and office together.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2014, 05:18:42 am by printshop »
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cobaltskky

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2014, 11:48:43 am »

This is all very exciting news!  Thank you so much for sharing your vision. :) It makes me more confident in investing. :)
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whatnxt

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2014, 07:37:38 pm »

The JPLT sounds like a great opportunity to me.
Keep us informed on your progress and what you need to make it happen?
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Kitchentable

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2014, 06:59:34 pm »

With the amount of volume you plan on doing please tell me you have more than a desktop HP laserjet printer. The recent HP printer you've announced is only specced at 33 pages per minute and if you intend to run index cards through it then expect that number to drop to around 10 or less. For people that don't know, it takes a lot more heat to fuse toner onto cardstock which increases cost because more heat takes more power and the air conditioner must run longer to cool the environment. Each time paper passes through a fuser it takes heat with it so the fuser must have constant heat added or you get ghost images after the first sheet is printed. Cardstock takes a lot of heat from the fuser so the machine slows the paper pass down to compensate for the large heat loss. As for the cooling the work environment you can live in a cold climate area but keeping the window open causes moisture to build up on the paper and inside of the machine. If that happens then you get blotchy prints along with constant paper jams. There are machines I work on that have heaters installed into the paper trays to combat against moisture but those HP laserjets were not built for that option.

Another question is what software are you using to print with? Photoshop is a given but even it is valued at over 500 dollars or more. You'll need some program that can convert RBG to CMYK to produce the quality of color the customer is expecting, unless you plan to stay with B&W only. Seeing how the HP printer doesn't have an option for a spectrophotometer I'm guessing you will try to eyeball it. My advice on when you want perfect color matching is to go with a Fiery print controller. They can be pricey but you'll never get a complaint about the reds not being red enough.

Do you create the files to be printed or is the customer creating them? If the customer creates the file then I don't see why they would continue to use your printer once they find out they could just as well buy it themselves. Business are not stupid and if they think printing in-house is cheaper then that is what they will do. Print shops are not the only business I visit with large volume machines. People come to print shops for professional prints and because they lack the equipment to print what they need in a timely manner.

Here is one more thing about flashcards I'm skeptical on and that is tablets. Schools are adopting tablets at insanely fast rate. Some schools have completely forgone the textbook in light of having a cheap android tablet. Sure tablets can get lost or broken, but I have schools that decided the cost isn't much different than buying a lost or damage textbook. The tablet also teaches the student on the adoption of technology for skill building. Even now office copiers use tablets as a screen when selecting a function. They even have apps and a web browser to surf the internet on.

The thing is to convince me that your print shop is headed in the right direction and I'll buy into the asset. I've been doing professional print setups for over 10 years and I know what it takes to succeed in this business. Unless you know people or have connections with businesses then I'm not seeing a need to invest just yet. I really am trying to not kick over your sand castle. I just see flaws and have questions.
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printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2014, 09:37:58 pm »

I've been doing professional print setups for over 10 years and I know what it takes to succeed in this business. Unless you know people or have connections with businesses then I'm not seeing a need to invest just yet. I really am trying to not kick over your sand castle. I just see flaws and have questions.

Thanks for your questions. TO be honest, compared to your level of experience, I don't know what I am doing. However i'd like to touch on what you've said and explain to you what my plan is right now. Of course, I'm always open to good advice.

First off it seems that many of your concerns revolve around us operating as a general-purpose print shop. I think that isn't quite accurate. I am mainly concerned with producing for the schools I already produce for, and expanding from there into the production of our own educational materials. I would like to pick up additional business from local schools, but there's no "large" profit potential in that. maybe another couple of hundred dollars a month with the odd pop from a textbook job. The plan now is to branch out into "mass" producing our own stuff.

For this reason, stepping up from the LaserJet 1020 and OfficeJet 4620 models we have now into an Enterprise-class printer is a big win for us. Our future expansion plans (wrt machinery) are for an 806dn given that 90% of what we will do is going to be monochrome. Otherwise I would get a 651dn next, and then possibly look at other classes of printers. I hope this answers your first question.

For software, I use Microsoft word. Having written books using LaTeX and LibreOffice, I can tell you that Microsoft Word is better suited to general layout and (especially) handling the layout of Asian Text.

We have had a full subscription to Adobe Creative Suite. What you said about Photoshop is interesting. Pixel control vs. (font) point control might be useful to me, but I can't see any other clear benefits. For example, I am not overly concerned with perfect color matching (i.e. no spectrophotometer). The DesignJet series includes a spectrophotometer, but again we are going with LaserJet to expand what we're already focused on. Branching out into advertising copy is not really what I want KPS to be about. That being said, the m551dn is an ImageREt 3600 class printer ("Professional Quality" according to HP). You can read more about it's color capabilities in this ImageREt pdf. Many of the technical terms are beyond me but it is in fact capable of several different color modes including two different CMYK modes, and including professional press ink modes such as "SWOP, Euroscale, and DIC" (Disclaimer: I don't know what that means, but apparently my printer can handle it). Reading through that pdf I linked seems to address many of the concerns you've raised about the printer in your second question. But for what we plan to do with the printer I am am very happy with the color and image quality.

3. Do you create the files to be printed or is the customer creating them? If the customer creates the file then I don't see why they would continue to use your printer once they find out they could just as well buy it themselves. Business are not stupid and if they think printing in-house is cheaper then that is what they will do. Print shops are not the only business I visit with large volume machines. People come to print shops for professional prints and because they lack the equipment to print what they need in a timely manner.

Both (we create and they create). Based on what the schools are telling me, I can undercut the local print shop by 40% and still make money. Part of the reason for this is that the m551dn can handle small paper sizes like 2x3 and 3x5 that the larger Ricoh models cannot handle. Sharp is the other major seller around here, everyone and their brother has a Sharp photocopier, and they can't do it either. So in terms of index cards, I have the right setup or close to it. For our other major source of income (doing textbooks for independent schools) I'll give you an example. One customer came to me with a 110 page book. It was going to cost them $30 per book for 100 books at the local shop. It was so expensive they decided to print the last 1/3rd of the book in black and white greyscale, to cut the cost down to $23 per book. I could do the whole thing in color for perhaps $15 (two full sets of toner cartriges and paper cost). All my other research seems to confirm I can sell at around half the cost of the local print shop and still make money. I'm not sure if it's their margins or if they don't order paper in bulk or what, but I am happy with our costing right now.

Edit: We also just spoke to another school who buys the Oxford Reading Tree series. The workbooks are $2.99. They charge the students cost for the workbooks. I can reproduce the same workbook in the same staple-bound format for just under half of what they pay. The catch? The ORT series is copyrighted so they need their own material. Great, I have an artist working on images for their new textbook right now. I'll link you some of the images in a moment (I will post them below). So you see, not only will we make ~25% profit every time they come to us for a reprint, the customer saves ~30% and they're happy going with us. Plus they get a book suited exactly to their school which is better for them anyway.

Assuming the design is incidental (we treat in-house design as incidental if we expect a lot of repeat orders) If they wanted to do this in-house, they would need the setup I have. It is possible but unlikely for an independant school to do this. If a school needed ~1,000 books a year and saved a dollar a book, it would take more than 3 years to justify the cost of the printer, toner, paper, and so forth.

4. Here is one more thing about flashcards I'm skeptical on and that is tablets. Schools are adopting tablets at insanely fast rate. Some schools have completely forgone the textbook in light of having a cheap android tablet. Sure tablets can get lost or broken, but I have schools that decided the cost isn't much different than buying a lost or damage textbook. The tablet also teaches the student on the adoption of technology for skill building. Even now office copiers use tablets as a screen when selecting a function. They even have apps and a web browser to surf the internet on.

What's worse, there are apps like AnkiDroid (or Anki for iPad) which also run on your desktop which are SRS flashcard programs. They're also more advanced than simple flashcards. I have used these programs myself and they're great. The problem with them is that you have to have your device with you (which can be a problem sometimes), you have to log in, and (the big one) you have to design the sets yourself. I'm aware of several existing sets but I could never find one which suited my needs. For some people, inputting the amount of data it takes to beat simple flashcards is daunting.

The main problem I see with tablets is the kids. As a teacher myself, I can tell you that tablets will never work in a classroom in Asia, not for a hundred and fifty years. Kids' attention span is already horrendously bad. It's the effect of western and modern sponegbob culture (no offense, I love the show, but facts are facts). Parents are generally horrified. Many parents believe that if you let your child use a tablet it will ruin their eyes and scramble their brains. I know from experience that a simple set of flashcards is often simply much more useful than a tablet app. Many will disagree and I'm not saying programs like Anki aren't useful. They are.

The flashcards fit a niche. I am learning Japanese and Chinese myself and compared to Anki on a tablet, I prefer the cards. They give you something to touch and hold onto and there is something special about that. I feel those cards have helped me in ways Anki couldn't.

I've been doing professional print setups for over 10 years and I know what it takes to succeed in this business. Unless you know people or have connections with businesses then I'm not seeing a need to invest just yet. I really am trying to not kick over your sand castle. I just see flaws and have questions.

I like how you've made me think about the printing business.

I think that we are good to go for now, we have stepped up our production capacity, our image quality, and added color. There should be plenty of organic profit growth in the future to allow us to expand with things like a DesignJet printer or a proper perfect binding machine. Right now I am looking at desktop perfect binders under $1,000. We just have a new textbook order and I've decided we're going to bind it ourselves this time. But that is a subject for another post.

For now our problems of print capacity and office space have been solved or will be solved with our current investments. Future investments will be placed into bulk orders and a desktop perfect binder.

So I was discussing bulk orders with my wife and she dropped the bomb that there is a paper mill on the outskirts of town. I can't believe it. We are going to be able to get margin on A4 paper, too. Preliminary cost estimates tell me I can get 80gsm for +50% off retail. I will need to order several tons (maybe 1000 packs or 500,000 sheets). I am sure it will fit in the new office space, but I'll cram it into my living room if I have to. I never would have believed I could get so excited about plain white sheets of paper.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 01:10:34 am by printshop »
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printshop

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Re: Kongzi Print Shop pays a dividend
« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2014, 01:30:27 am »

Edit: We also just spoke to another school who buys the Oxford Reading Tree series. The workbooks are $2.99. They charge the students cost for the workbooks. I can reproduce the same workbook in the same staple-bound format for just under half of what they pay. The catch? The ORT series is copyrighted so they need their own material. Great, I have an artist working on images for their new textbook right now. I'll link you some of the images in a moment (I will post them below). So you see, not only will we make ~25% profit every time they come to us for a reprint, the customer saves ~30% and they're happy going with us. Plus they get a book suited exactly to their school which is better for them anyway.

I'm sorry there's no formal announcement, it's kind of a blasé day today even with (because?) of the textbook news.

Here is one of the images our artist is working on, these are hand-drawn and then colorized. This will be for an alphabet book and a companion phonics book we are designing. In total there will be about 120 pages/60 sheets between three books (alphabet, phonics, and workbook).



From the "MNOPQ" art.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 01:38:46 am by printshop »
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