Onshoring v offshoring:

Why the UK is sometimes the best option


 Jon Abnett of Evolution Design & Digital shares his views on outsourcing in publishing

A common misconception in publishing is that offshore typesetting is always the cheapest option. In our experience the majority of large UK publishers turn to offshore suppliers as the first route to cutting costs, with the enticement of very low baseline page rates. But as we know from conversations with people on the frontline of production, not everything is as it seems.

It’s also surprising that so many publishers will happily pay the going rates for editorial work and yet seek to save money at the layout stage, which is too often an afterthought. Why pay good money for great editorial only to be let down by poorly laid out pages?
Publishing today is very different to 20 or 30 years ago, and at Evolution we’ve noticed that in-house staff have to do a great deal more work in a shorter time span. That work increasingly spills over into evenings and weekends, and the extra time they have to spend liaising with offshore partners quickly accumulates. And however uncomfortable it may be, you cannot hide from the fact that overseas outsourcing brings with it communication issues around zones, languages, culture and more. 

For example, there may be a lack of communication until proofs arrive, and there is always a risk that briefs for page layout or artworks are not properly understood. There have been numerous examples of extra costs creeping in during the proofing stages, and cases of work having to be finished by in-house design teams because fees have only been agreed to a certain level of corrections. We have even been asked to take over work at a late stage to ensure that it is finished to the highest standards.
When you hand a project over to a UK-based partner like Evolution, you can be safe in the knowledge that there is the expertise to evaluate all elements of it and ensure that it is completed to the highest standards, as well as efficiently and cost effectively. We are always happy to discuss beneficial production or design solutions that you might not have considered, and to iron out any issues before starting work. We never bother people without good reason, but are always here to respond to emails or calls when needed.
The value of UK suppliers has been emphasised throughout the pandemic, when companies like ours have remained operational and ready to take on projects at short notice. Offshore competition has challenged UK-based design and typesetting specialists like us over the last ten years, but we have continued to thrive by becoming more flexible in both working practices and costs. By providing high quality communication and delivering consistently good services with minimal fuss, we save publishers both time and money.

Offshore suppliers undoubtedly have their place to play in UK publishing, but they shouldn't always be the first place to look: sometimes the UK is best.

Jon Abnett is director of pre-press services provider Evolution Design & Digital. For more about its work, click here or email Jon.

The views and opinions expressed in blogs on the IPG website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the IPG.