BOOK BEAT 44 – Whitehall Printing

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   May 23-29, 2007

 by Philip K. Jason

The name is Whitehall Printing Company, but when you ask its president, Jeff Hirsch, what his company does he says that it manufactures books. This fine distinction cuts in two directions. On the one hand, Whitehall is not in the brochure, flyer, and postcard business. On the other, it has bookbinding equipment and can provide any publisher, organization, or individual with a finished product. With a very high national reputation, Whitehall counts among its satisfied customers many who choose to self-publish. Its large facility on Corporate Square off Radio Road is a busy, state-of-the art place where page and cover stock arrives at one end and boxes of finished books get shipped out at the other.

Jeff’s father, Mike, began the business in Chicago in the late 1950s. Several relocations brought them to nearby Wheeling, Illinois where by the early 1980s the business found itself (once again) running out of room. It needed space to house a new press for book covers. After carefully researching possible new locations, Whitehall rented space in the J & C industrial area and installed the press there, later acquiring a lot in Corporate Square and relocating once again. This partial move to Naples occurred in 1983-4.

Hirsch says that the economics of shipping covers back to Illinois made Naples as good a place as any from a business standpoint. Shippers gave Whitehall special incentives since many brought full trucks or air cargo capacity to Naples and left nearly empty. Before long, Whitehall had same-day air freight service for less than the cost of three-day truck service.

Enjoying the Florida weather and lifestyle, company leaders decided to move the entire business to Naples, and by 1990 they acquired additional adjacent space in Corporate Square. The planning, building, and full transition of operations was completed in 1992. By starting with a clean slate, Hirsch and his partners were able to plan for an efficient work flow, for future growth, and even for future technologies.

After long experience with self-published authors and with all kinds of organizations publishing books for the first time, this agile enterprise has learned how to consider the needs of novices. Whitehall benefits from being customer-friendly as it guides customers through the steps in the printing process.

For many customers, the first point of contact is Sandra Yeyati, Whitehall’s Marketing Director. Yeyati helps customers in several ways. She prepares book printing quotations, sends out samples and information kits, and determines what specifications best serve the customer’s purpose. Once she understands the nature of the book and how the author plans to market it, Yeyati can recommend the most appropriate features.

Yeyati can also assist in the layout and design of the book’s interior pages and its cover. Sometimes authors can do much of this work themselves; sometimes she will suggest that a particular objective requires the services of a graphic designer.

Yeyati can answer questions about how many copies to print, about shipping and distribution, and about copyright issues. She can help authors obtain ISBN and Library of Congress numbers for their books.

Once a project comes to Whitehall, two other people join the team – a customer service representative and a technical specialist. They stay in touch with the customer while preparing the book for printing, preflighting the customer’s digital files, and creating proofs. Every customer receives text and cover proofs for review and approval.

Most authors prepare their manuscripts as text files in Microsoft Word. Though book pages can be formatted in Word, it is best for these files to be converted into professional software that is meant for book design and that readily communicates with high-end printing technology. Whitehall, through its website, makes available special software that allows conversion from Word and then permits customers to refine their files. Yeyati can test these digital files to make sure that they will run properly at the printing stage.

Hirsch and Yeyati are proud of Whitehall Printing’s customer service. Sandra Yeyati claims that you never get voice mail at Whitehall: “We are very accessible and eager to find solutions for our customers.”

Herself a writer, Yeyati loves to hear about people’s book projects. She is impressed by the contributions Whitehall’s authors and publishers make with diet books and exercise manuals, addiction recovery books, investment how-to’s, and more. She enjoys the poetry books and cookbooks, too. It excites her to see a self-published author fulfill the life-long dream of writing (and publishing) a book.

While effective at working with self-publishing authors, Whitehall serves all kinds of customers and projects: directories, industrial catalogs, training manuals, university journals, religious books, and so forth.

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Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club.

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