Competitiveness of Sustenance Lithographic Printing Industry with the Digital Printing Industry: A Case Study of the Lithographic Printing Industry in Nigeria
Major Constraints Affecting the Lithographic Printing Industry
The Effect of the Total Quality Management System on Lithographic
Industry and Compliance with a Changing World
Comparison of Lithographic Printing and Digital Printing to Develop
Avenues to Increase the Sale of Lithography
Stakeholder Opinions of the Proficiency of the Lithographic Printing
Although facing obsolescence from innovations in digital printing technologies, the lithographic industry is faced with several constraints to its competitiveness that form the focus of this study. The overarching aim of this study is to investigate and explore the future of the lithographic printing industry and develop ways on how lithographic printing can be sustained in the changing world of emerging technologies in the printing industry today. In support of this main aim, the study’s objectives were to: provide a detailed review into the literature about the past, present and the future of the lithographic industry; identify major constraints affecting the lithographic printing industry and to suggest vital avenues to improve them; determine the effect of the Quality Management System on the lithographic industry and how compliance is necessary in a changing world and dynamic marketplace; provide a comprehensive comparison of the traditional lithographic printing industry with the digital printing industry to identify avenues to increase the sales of traditional lithographic products; and, determine the prevailing stakeholder opinions concerning the proficiency of the lithographic printing industry. Salient conclusions and recommendations are presented in the study’s concluding chapter.
A Comparison of the Competitiveness of Sustenance Lithographic Printing Industry with the Digital Printing Industry: A Case Study of the Lithographic Printing Industry in Nigeria
The aim of this study was to investigate and explore the future of the lithographic printing industry and develop ways on how lithographic printing can be sustained in the changing world of emerging technologies in the printing industry today.
The objectives of this study were as follows:
To provide a detailed review into the literature about the past, present and the future of the lithographic industry;
To identify major constraints affecting the lithographic printing industry and to suggest vital avenues to improve them.
To determine the effect of the Quality Management System on the lithographic industry and how compliance is necessary in a changing world and dynamic marketplace.
To provide a comprehensive comparison of the traditional lithographic printing industry with the digital printing industry to identify avenues to increase the sales of traditional lithographic products; and,
To determine the prevailing stakeholder opinions concerning the proficiency of the lithographic printing industry.
To achieve the above-stated aim and objectives, this study used a critical review of the relevant literature which is congruent with the guidance provided by Fraenkel and Wallen (2001, p. 48) that, “Researchers usually dig into the literature to find out what has already been written about the topic they are interested in investigating. Both the opinions of experts in the field and other research studies are of interest. Such reading is referred to as a review of the literature.” A well conducted literature review can provide a number of valuable outcomes, including the following cited by Woods and Ellis (2003, p. 51):
1. It helps describe a topic of interest and refine either research questions or directions in which to look;
2. It presents a clear description and evaluation of the theories and concepts that have informed research into the topic of interest;
3. It clarifies the relationship to previous research and highlights where new research may contribute by identifying research possibilities which have been overlooked so far in the literature;
4. It provides insights into the topic of interest that are both methodological and substantive;
5. It demonstrates powers of critical analysis by, for instance, exposing taken for granted assumptions underpinning previous research and identifying the possibilities of replacing them with alternative assumptions;
6. It justifies any new research through a coherent critique of what has gone before and demonstrates why new research is both timely and important.
Likewise, Silverman (2005, p. 300) points out that a literature review can answer the following questions:
1. What do we know about the topic?
2. What do we have to say critically about what is already known?
3. Has anyone else ever done anything exactly the same?
4. Has anyone else done anything that is related?
5. Where does your work fit in with what has gone before?
6. Why is your research worth doing in the light of what has already been done?
ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This study used a seven-chapter format to achieve the above-stated aim and objective. Chapter one of the study was used to describe the aim and objectives, and chapter two was used to provide a review of the literature concerning the history of lithography. Chapter three of the study was used to identify major constraints affecting the modern lithographic printing industry and chapter four describes the effect of the Total Quality Management system on the lithographic industry and compliance in a changing marketplace. A comparison of lithographic printing and digital printing to develop avenues to increase the sale of lithography in chapter five is followed by an assessment of stakeholders opinions concerning the proficiency of the lithographic printing industry today. Finally, salient conclusions and recommendations are presented in the concluding chapter.
Review of the Literature
This chapter provides a review of the relevant literature, including books, journals, magazine and other about the past, present and the future of the lithographic industry in general and the lithographic industry in Nigeria in particular, followed by a discussion concerning major constraints affecting the lithographic printing industry and recommendations for vital avenues to improve them in Chapter Three below.
Background and Overview
Lithography involves drawing with some type of greasy substance, typically a crayon, on a piece of metal, stone, paper surface, and then using this original plate to print (Beaujon 1936). According to Beaujon (1936, p. 52), “Lithography is based on the fact that grease attracts grease and is repelled by water. It is the most direct of all the graphic arts, for in practising it the artist first sees the exact value of each line that he draws and then has his drawing reproduced so accurately that it may truly be said to have been multiplied.” Just as the camera never lies, lithographic printing is an exacting process (Beaujon 1936) that demands care and attention to achieve optimal results and improvement in these areas were achieved in an incremental fashion as discussed further below.
Early Trends in Lithography
Although the methods of preparing lithographic stones and preparing drawings on them remained essentially unchanged since the process was developed by the Bavarian printer Alois Senefelder in 1798, a number of new methods for lithographic printing emerged as new presses were introduced (Pierce 2009). According to Beaujon (1936, p. 52), “The best medium on which to draw is Kelheim stone, that on which Senefelder was by chance working when he discovered the art.” The early lithographic printing processes used three grades of lithographic stone as follows:
1. Blue (hard): using for engraving;
2. Grey (medium): used for very fine work; and,
3. Yellow (soft): used for relatively unimportant work (Beaujon 1936).
By the early 19th century, lithographic processes provided the printers with the ability to mechanically transfer images from one surface to another (Cook 2008). In this regard, Harrison (1998, p. 95) reports that, “Until lithography emerged in 1822, artists had to cut, etch or engrave their drawings on wood, steel or copper. Mass lithography (oil-based ink on stone) began in 1828.” These early lithographic printing methods were used for a variety of applications, including texts, maps, and pictorial drawings (Cook 2008).
During the 1850s, printing researchers including mapmakers, experimented with different ways to create transferable photographic images (Cook 2008). According to Mumford (1999, pp. 168-178), early successful efforts at photographic transfers of line images for lithographic map reproduction were separately achieved in Australia and England by 1860. According to Cook (2008, p. 138), “Thereafter, such transfers were often used to create preprinting images for relief and intaglio reproduction processes, as well as lithographic printing images.”
Nevertheless, the quality of even the best photographed line image was inferior to hand engraving; however, the fact that drafting maps in pen-and-ink cost far less compared to wood or copper engraving was a major selling point for the technology (Cook 2008). In fact, lithographic printing languished for a period during the mid- to- second-half of the 19th century until in “suddenly came into favor again” (Roger-Marx and Gloeckner 1939, p. 44).
The cause of the temporary decline in the popularity of the lithographic printing method was attributable, at least in part, to the increasing competition from other emerging technologies. In this regard, Beaujon (1936, p. 60) that:
Already in 1840, etchings were competing with lithographs in L’Artiste and Beraldi was announcing the decline of lithography. In 1864 Burty declared the art en pleine decadence. Both were right. The reasons are not far to seek. The swing of the pendulum for one, lithographs had been almost too popular.
This overreliance on lithography to the exclusion of other alternative printing methods such as the introduction of photography almost spelled the end of lithography in Europe. For example, according to Beaujon (1936, p. 60), “French lithographers, warned to be serious like the Germans, began to copy pictures which they did, though with distinction, at the sacrifice of original design.”
There was also a sacrifice of quality involved when these early photographic processes were used instead of lithography but the preference for the new technology was clear. As Beaujon (1936, p. 60) points out, “Photography became a serious rival in all countries, bringing its disastrous gift of cheapness. Photographic processes replaced lithography, as well as wood-engraving, for the illustration of magazines and papers.” Although lithographic printing technologies have improved the underlying processes in the intervening years, the fundamental processes that are involved have remained essentially the same (Cook 2008), resulting in a number of constraints to the technology’s effectiveness and competitiveness in a world of changing technologies and these issues are discussed further in Chapter Three below.
Major Constraints Affecting the Lithographic Printing Industry
The history of printing in Nigeria dates to 1848 when European, especially British, missionaries established community newspapers to spread their religious messages (Nigeria: A big market for printing machines 2010). The first Nigerian-operated lithographic presses date to 1965 when a printing shop, Academy Press, was opened up in Lagos to compete with the European-operated print shops (Nigeria: A big market). Today, with a population of more than 140 million people, Nigeria represents an enormous market for the printing industry (Nigeria: A big market). In fact, in some parts of the capital, Lagos, such as Shomolu, there is a lithographic printing press on virtually every street, and a printing press in every other house on these streets, in some sections of the city (Nigeria: A big market). According to the editors of The African Courier (Nigeria: A big market 2010, p. 12), “While many of the lithographic shops are manned by ladies, it is a man’s affair at the presses which comprise mainly Kord 64 with a small number of Sord Z. And Gestetner 201 printing machines.”
Although Nigeria represents a major consumer of printed products and the lithographic industry is ready and willing to respond, there are some problems that are routinely encountered that prevent the industry from realizing its maximum potential today. For example, among the major constraints facing the lithographic printing industry in Nigeria today are a lack of reliable electricity, the high costs of energy and a government that, until relatively recently, has been unresponsive to its needs (Nigeria: A big market). In this regard, the editors of The African Courier (Nigeria: A big market 2010, p. 12) report that, “After decades of seeming indifference, the Nigerian government seems to have come to terms with the huge potential of the industry and the need to reposition it to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” To this end, the Nigerian government established the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers (CIPPON) to regulate and certify professional Nigerian printers and the equipment they use (Nigeria: A big market).
To date, though, fewer than 1,000 printers and printing houses have been certified (in the case of individuals) or provided with licenses (in the case of printing houses) in this fashion; however, this number represents a very small fraction of the lithographic printing industry in Nigeria today (Nigeria: A big market). Membership in the professional organization requires being a trained printer with five years of experience (Nigeria: A big market). In addition, the country is faced with a dearth of usable paper mills and is forced to import almost all of the paper it requires from Europe and Asia (Nigeria: A big market).
These constraints have translated into even more problems for the people of Nigeria. For instance, a study by Ogunrombi and Adio (1999) concerning book sufficiency and press efficiency in Nigeria found that there is book scarcity at all levels of the educational system throughout the country as the result of the non-encouragement of local publishers and authors. Although the western region of Nigeria has the majority of the available textbooks for English and math (printed in English), followed by the eastern region of Nigeria (but book piracy averages about 50-70% in this region), and then eastern region of the country where textbook availability of grossly inadequate (Ogunrombi and Adio 1999). According to Ogunrombi and Adio (1999, p. 84), “Uneven distribution of the few available books in the country results in non-functional libraries in primary schools and few functional ones in secondary schools. The heavy dependency on foreign textbooks and journals at the tertiary level of the educational system should be discouraged, so that indigenous technology is encouraged” (p. 84).
The results of a follow-up study by Ogunrombi and Adio (2011) determined that little or no progress had been made in addressing these constraints, and in some cases, the situation had become even worse. In this regard, Ogunrombi and Adio (2011, p. 37) emphasize that, “There is a great shortage of books at all levels of education [in Nigeria], but the most acute being at the tertiary level due to an overwhelming dependence on imported books.” The study of the lithographic printing industry conducted by Ogunrombi and Adio also determined that Nigerian libraries tasked with promoting scholarship are largely restricted to elite and private schools; however, these models are not able to be replicated on the national level. These authorities emphasize that the implications of the paucity of books for an informed Nigerian citizenry as well as for national development and suggests some solutions to improve the availability and accessibility of books in Nigeria (Ogunrombi and Adio 2011).
Another constraint to a vibrant lithography industry in Nigeria is a lack of government support for the gum Arabic industry. For instance, Nigeria is a major gum arabic producer, a key ingredient in lithographic printing (Mokwunye and Aghughu 2010). Gum Arabic production in Nigeria, though, has declined in recent years, dropping Nigeria from the second world producer of this substance to third position as a result of sustained neglect of agriculture by successive Nigerian governments at all levels (Mokwunye and Aghughu 2010).
Chapter Four: The Effect of the Total Quality Management System on the Lithographic Industry and Compliance with a Changing World
The introduction of total quality management principles to improve business practices is credited to Frederick W. Taylor (Evans and Lindsay 2000). From Deming’s perspective, it was not the workers themselves who created quality but it was rather the system of work that controls how the work is actually accomplished and what type of outcome is achieved (Evans and Lindsay 2000). Deming maintained that business processes should be carefully analyzed, quantified and measured in order to identify sources of variations that result in products deviating from customer requirements and suggested business processes should be contained within a continuous feedback loop so that managers can identify and change the parts of the process that need improvements or changes (Evans and Lindsay 2000). In an effort to depict these continuous and iterative processes, Deming developed a simple diagram, commonly termed the “PDCA cycle,” standing for Plan, Do, Check, Act, as shown below:
1. PLAN: This step involves designing or revising business process components to improve results.
2. DO: This step involves implementing the plan and measuring its performance.
3. CHECK: The check step involves assessing the measurements and reporting the results to decision makers.
4. ACT: The final step involves making a decision concerning what changes are required in order to improve the process (Evans & Dean 2000, p. 37).
In addition, Deming promulgated his now-famous “14 points” to illustrate how total quality management can assist companies in achieving improved results and these are set forth in Table 1 below.
Deming’s Fourteen Points to Total Quality Management
“Create constancy of purpose towards improvement”; replace short-term reaction with long-term planning.
“Adopt the new philosophy”; the implication is that management should actually adopt his philosophy, rather than merely expect the workforce to do so.
“Cease dependence on inspection”; if variation is reduced, there is no need to inspect manufactured items for defects, because there will not be any.
“Move towards a single supplier for any one item”; multiple suppliers mean variation between feedstocks.
“Improve constantly and forever”; constantly strive to reduce variation.
“Institute training on the job”; if workers are inadequately trained, they will not all work the same way, and this will introduce variation.
“Institute leadership”; in this regard, Deming distinguishes between leadership and mere supervision. “The latter is quota- and target-based.”
“Drive out fear”; Deming viewed management by fear as counter- productive in the long-term, because it prevents workers from acting in the organization’s best interests.
“Break down barriers between departments”; another key component of TQM is the concept of the ‘internal customer’; that each department serves not the management, but the other departments that use its outputs as well.
.”Eliminate slogans”; still another key TQM tenet that it is not people that make most mistakes, but rather the process they are working within. Therefore, “Harassing the workforce without improving the processes they use is counter-productive.”
“Eliminate management by objectives”; Deming viewed production targets as encouraging the delivery of poor-quality goods.
.”Remove barriers to pride of workmanship”; many of the other problems outlined reduce worker satisfaction.
“Institute education and self-improvement.”
“The transformation to total quality management is everyone’s job.”
Source: Cohen 2007, p. 2
There have been a wide range of significant innovations in the workplace since Deming’s original work on total quality management, with the most important of these innovations being the introduction of computer-based applications and improvements in telecommunications which have held significant implications for the modern printing industry (Hahn 2002). In addition, Hahn (2002) also cites the impact of globalization on the need for total quality management. According to Hahn (2002, p. 290), “Globalization has been another important development. Deming, too, operated globally. However, his experiences tended to be more about global competitors than today’s highly integrated international company, in which the plant statistician may act as a global ambassador who helps synchronize activities and conveys best practices worldwide.” Total quality management is widely regarded as being a good way to improve communications within an organization and to facilitate action-taking steps to change (Doherty 1994). In this regard, Doherty (1994, 305) emphasizes that:
Because TQM is a process designed to make continual improvement a fact of organizational life, it has been natural to attempt to contrast it with other ‘improvement’ strategies such as Outcome-based Education, Effective Schools, Accelerated Schools and Essential Schools. While a point-by-point comparison may help in communication, it can blur a fundamental difference between improvement processes and management processes. Whether true or not, the former tend to be perceived as processes with change as a goal. Total quality management, on the other hand, connects the ‘where-we-are-ness’ of daily practice to the ‘where-we-want-to-go-ness’ found in the organization’s goals. (p. 305)
Since its introduction by Deming, there have been a number of permutations of the total quality management models, including those set forth in Table 2 below:
Total Quality Management Variations
The TQM element approach
In this approach, the organization uses specific methods or tools such as quality teams and statistical process control — typically in the absence of an overall plan or commitment to TQM philosophy.
The guru approach.
In this version of TQM, organizations embrace the teachings of one of the leading quality thinkers — for example, managers attend a seminar, learn about Deming’s 14 points, and begin work on implementing them in their own organization.
The organizational exemplar approach
This variation has members of an organization visit other organizations that are known for their success with TQM.
The Japanese total quality approach
This approach has organizations examine implementation strategies and techniques used by Japanese winners of the Deming Prize.
The prize criteria approach
In this variation, organizations use the evaluation criteria for the Deming Prize or the Baldridge Award to identify specific areas for improvement.
Source: Connor 1997, p. 501
As a result, managers of successful companies of all sizes and types today increasingly recognize that they are competing in a global economy and must take steps to remain competitive. In this regard, Jones (1999, p. 88) emphasizes that, “Whether their customers are consumers or other businesses, top management know that to maintain a competitive edge they must produce quality products. For many of the most competitive companies. Total Quality Management is not just a buzzword, but a way of life.” This has been the case with a number of printing enterprises in recent years that have benefited in substantive ways from the implementation and administration of a well conducted total quality management approach (North and Blackburn 1998).
A case study of the effect of total quality management on the printing industry by Avery and Zabel (1999) concerned Port City Press located in Pikesville, Maryland. This lithographic printing company publishes directories, manuals, and short-to-medium-run texts (Avery and Zabel). This printing company implemented total quality management in January 1992 and the initiative transformed the manner in which this printing company does business today. According to Avery and Zabel (1999, p. 20), the impact of total quality management on the company was profound: “A team-oriented philosophy has been implemented from the executive level down. Typesetters, proofreaders, and paste-up artists share responsibilities rather than performing one task. Because of this flexibility Port City is now able to process jobs faster and better, while satisfying customers.”
Although the case study was written while the implementation was still underway, the foregoing benefits were not the only ones realized through the use of total quality management. According to Avery and Zabel (1999, p. 20),”Total quality management has also speeded up the printing process. Total quality management has helped Port City become more competitive while increasing service. Their new flexibility allows them to handle delays when customers miss a deadline.” These outcomes are congruent with the original goals of total quality management. In this regard, Hahn (2002, p. 290) points out that, “Deming was a strong proponent of good communications within an organization. Our rapidly improving technology, even though not assuring that his goals will be met, make it easier to do so. In turn, the new communications and information-gathering tools have led to the rapid acceleration of everything we do.” Clearly, the tenets of total quality management as first propounded by Deming and subsequently modified for various industrial settings including lithographic printing can assist Nigerian printers in achieving a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace and these issues are discussed further below.
Chapter Five: Comparison of Lithographic Printing and Digital Printing to Develop Avenues to Increase the Sale of Lithographic
During the 100-year period from the 1880s through the 1970s, various photomechanical production methods, including lithography, became increasingly important for the production of a wide range of printed materials (Cook 2008). Incremental improvements over the course of several decades resulted in improvements in these conventional printing technologies until their use peaking around the end of the 1970s when early computer-based printing alternatives began to crop up (Cook 2008). According to Cook (2008), one of the historic major applications for lithographic printing has been maps for private and military use. The introduction of computer-based applications did not necessary spell the end of lithographic printing, but it has become a major competitor across the board (Cook 2008). Indeed, Cook (2008, p. 138) advises that, “By the 1990s electronic technology had almost entirely supplanted photomechanical technology in map production.” The digital age has not spelled the end of the lithographic printing industry, but it has taken its toll. In contrast to computer-based applications, conventional photomechanical production techniques are labor-intensive and unforgiving of errors (Nadeau 1990).
Following the introduction of computer-based digital application in the 1970s, though, the printing industry was changed in fundamental ways. In this regard, Cook (2008, p.140) emphasizes that:
When the digital shift began in the 1970s, the challenge of matching photomechanical effects and image quality with computer software and hardware caused the transition to computer production to lag behind that for data collection. Computer graphics production has succeeded, like photomechanical production before it, by adopting and adapting technology developed for the graphic arts in general.
The implications of the introduction of digital technologies for the Nigerian lithographic industry have also been profound. In this regard, Weston (2005) advises that Nigerian printing houses that had previously generated much of their revenues from printing preparatory materials for civil service examination students were bankrupted by the shift from lithography to digital printing (Weston 2005). Nevertheless, Nigeria still boasts a large lithographic printing industry that appears to be underutilized as a result of a lack of basic printing supplies, paper and chemicals and an unreliable source of energy. In addition, there is digital printing in the market now that does the similar job as lithographic, and not only photochemical processes are competing with the lithographic press. In fact, computer printing does A3 size of print and B2 size is ongoing and the Nigeria market remains behind in this method of printing. According to Seymour (2010, p. 52), “Given the relatively tiny market for books in Africa, one can come to the erroneous conclusion that Africans do not like to read. Nothing can be further from the truth – books, magazines and all forms of printed matter are devoured whenever they made available and are affordable. The problem has been with the industry itself (emphasis added).”
The introduction of electronic publishing, though, stands to be a game-changer for the Nigerian printing industry. In this regard, Seymour (2009, p. 52) advises that, “Electronic printing has changed the landscape entirely and Africans could become some of the world’s greatest readers – and writers.” This is not to say that the entire printing industry in Nigeria has ignored or otherwise failed to appreciate the changes taking place in the industry. For instance, Seymour (2009, p. 52) reports that, “For those publishers who either did not take the threat to their monopoly seriously or simply did not understand how to react, the challenge to their business is growing. However, some publishers, recognising the new order, moved to embrace the new technology and its opportunities.” As an example of one such enterprise, Seymour cites Kachifo Ltd., a Nigerian independent publishing house which was launched in 2004. According to Seymour (2009, p. 52), Kachifo publishes an online magazine, Farafina and selected the online format for good reason: “Speaking at the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) conference in 2006, Kachifo’s founder, Muhtar Bakare, explained his reasoning: ‘Start-up costs were low and we had an immediate global reach, which would prove useful later on in commissioning new articles or titles and in contracting out editorial work.” The company’s founder described the current environment in Nigeria as the country’s “Gutenberg moment” and suggested that these recent trends in publishing would “democratise knowledge in Africa” (quoted in Seymour 2009, p. 52). It is important to note as well as Kachifo is also a conventional publisher that has experienced many of the same types of challenges as printers throughout Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. In this regard, Seymour (2009, p. 52) emphasizes that, “As with all publishers in Africa, [Kachifo] has to contend with inadequate distribution networks that severely limit the numbers of books they can sell.”
Although the demand for newspapers remains strong throughout Nigeria, there is less demand for outright book ownership. According to Seymour (2009, p. 52), “The challenge for African publishing is to make book ownership attractive, to make the book-reading public want to own their books and to love them as old friends the way music fans used to with vinyl records.” In the digital age where e-books are increasingly becoming the norm, this may in fact represent a major hurdle. Moreover, there are other logistical obstacles in the way of promoting lithographic printing services in Nigeria. In this regard, Seymour (2009, p. 52) points out that:
They have to get the books to the public. Urban centres do have bookstores, but they barely exist outside towns and cities where so many Africans live. Books are sold from roadside stalls and are peddled in beauty salons. In Nigeria, mobile sellers visit offices and restaurants trying to sell books directly. Nigeria has a population of 150 million people and a market of that size will go largely untapped if the distribution network is not radically modernized (emphasis added).
On the one hand, this lack of a modern distribution network for printed materials may represent a fundamental challenge for lithographic printers in Nigeria today, but on the other hand there are some indications that things are changing so fast that investments in a formal printing infrastructure may be misdirected. In this regard, Seymour (2012, p. 52) reports that, “The informal nature of much of African publishing, where there is very little cataloguing with ISBN numbers done, makes reliable information on the sector hard to come by; and in those conditions, investors will be understandably reluctant to part with their money.” Consequently, it is reasonable to suggest that the most cost-effective approach to expanding opportunities for the lithographic printing industry in Nigeria today may be to organize coalitions of these informal distribution networks to reduce their product acquisition costs and to improve the reliability of deliveries. As Seymour (2012, p. 52) points out, “While the publishing industry in other parts of the world is struggling to come to terms with digital technology, it may, in Africa, be what finally allows it to flourish. The Internet is its own distribution network and transaction costs are minimal.” Indeed, just as Kodak’s film became the buggy whip of the 21st century, printed books are being replaced by digitized versions that are not only easily distributed, they are easily accessible by African readers hungry for the best of the world’s literature as well as localized content that affects their daily lives. In this area, lithographic printers are faced with a truly daunting challenge. According to Seymour (2012, p. 52):
While Africa is lagging behind much of the rest of the world in terms of web usage, recently laid submarine broadband cables linking coastal landing points to urban and rural areas have turned the continent into one of the world’s most exciting regions of online growth. Distributing a hard-copy book to an address in many areas is very difficult, if not actually impossible, currently; but a 100,000-word novel in electronic form could reach the furthest-flung areas within seconds.
Although the take-up rate for e-books has been comparatively slow (but still increasingly nevertheless) in many Western countries, the take-up rate in Africa might be phenomenal because these resources are not replacing existing books, but are rather the only version that may be available to millions of African consumers. In this regard, Seymour (2012, p. 52) reports that, “In more-developed parts of the world, there is a reluctance to read novels on a computer screen. It should not be assumed, however, that African readers would be equally averse.”
Some indication of the potential popularity of e-books and other digitized reading alternatives can be discerned from the take-up rate of comparable technologies that have not replaced existing resources, but rather are the “only ball game in town” for many African consumers. According to Seymour (2012, p. 52), “Banking via mobile phones is not especially popular in Europe and North America. That same mobile banking technology in Africa, where an alternative choice for millions of people does not exist, has been taken up enthusiastically. For the same reason, books downloaded to a personal computer could find a market in many parts of Africa.” There are other constraints to the lithographic printing industry that are also affecting the introduction of these innovations in technology, though, including intellectual property rights protection and the high rate of publication piracy throughout many regions of the country today (Seymour 2012). Consequently, developing avenues to promote opportunities for the Nigerian lithographic industry’s printed materials is a complicated, multifaceted enterprise that involves a wide range of issues. Most of the authorities reviewed included a paucity of intellectual property right protections, as well as production methods that were congruent with international standards, an issue where total quality management could certainly play a significant role. For example, when faced with the decision where best to allocate resources for improving access to books and other traditionally printed materials, the public and private sectors in Nigeria will likely turn to digital solutions rather than the enormous investments required for traditional lithographic alternatives. In this regard, Seymour (2012, p. 52) concludes that for Nigerian book publishers, “Capacity building in the areas of production values, distribution and a greater adherence to international standards, such as ISBN numbers and cross-border African trade in books, can begin to exploit the market.” There are other opportunities emerging for African publishers that may be more elusive for traditional lithographic providers. For instance, Seymour (2012, p. 52) adds that, “Promoting African literature abroad, too, has been highlighted as another area of growth. Africa has huge creative potential and now, with broadband speeds increasing and the cost of self-publishing falling, that potential stands a chance of being realised.” Distribution costs for international markets may make this alternative more difficult for lithographic providers, but the handwriting is on the wall for all to see: “If the necessary technology is made more accessible to ordinary Africans, the continent may well one day lead the world in electronic and self-publishing, through necessity, as it does in mobile banking” (Seymour 2012, p. 52). Besides election materials, then, the lithographic printing industry is faced with a restricted number of avenues in developing new ways of increasing its sales.
A central problem is a basic lack of funds needed to purchase the up-to-date printing equipment needed to achieve a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace, but newspapers in Nigeria appears to be the exception to the rule. Some indication of the importance of the Nigerian printing industry can be discerned from a recent report from Feeney (2012, p. 54) who reports, “Goss has had a recent spate of Community press sales in Nigeria. Goss has received a large order for single-wide newspaper production in the African nation, where it [shipped] more than 40 press units over a three-month period.” In this case, it would appear that a preponderance of the evidence in support of the profitability of newspapers in Nigeria was sufficiently compelling to induce bankers to cooperate in their acquisition. Although the demand may have been there for some time, these recent purchases reflect the meteoric demand being experienced at present. In this regard, Feeney (2012, p. 55) adds that, “Modularity and flexibility are two key features leading to demand in an area where business development is typically sudden and sporadic.” These newspaper press acquisitions are all the more noteworthy because they come at a time when newspapers in many other countries are folding every day. In this regard, Feeney (2012) notes that in 2012, Nigerian concerns acquired four new presses that added another 44 single-wide (2×1) press units in Nigeria, bringing the total since 2008 to almost 200 units. The four Community and Magnum presses for Nigeria are characterized by multi-edition versatility and each model is capable of processing multiple webs through a single folder to facilitate production and distribution of localized newspaper editions (Feeney 2012).
The return on investment for these new presses was a major selling point for the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corp. According to Feeney (2012, p. 55), “The investment is intended to not only bring printing of the state-owned title The Pioneer in-house and enable it to become a daily, but also to win further print contracts from within Akwa Ibom state and beyond.” With a 22-49/64-inch cut-off, Akwa Ibom’s new 12-unit press has half — and quarter-page folding capabilities and six Goss reelstands to provide the ability for the newspaper to print multiple webs simultaneously (Feeney 2012). Indeed, these purchases appear to represent the beginning of something big in the Nigerian printing industry. In this regard, Feeney (2012, p. 55) emphasizes that, “This investment will jump start training for Akwa Ibom people in sophisticated printing technology, as well as serve the local media industry and commercial interest.”
In the Nigerian capital, Vanguard Media Ltd., independent publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, purchased two identical Community presses. According to Feeney (2012, p. 55), “Configured as two four-high towers, one two-high tower, and four Goss reelstands, the Vanguard press will be able to run up to four webs into a folder with half- and quarter-page format capabilities.” Citing the Nigerian national preference for a 22-49/64-inch cut-off in newspapers, the Vanguard press features this cut-off as well as motorized ink keys to facilitate use and set up (Feeney 2012). These press acquisitions will improve the production as well as the quality of the printing itself, and these changes will affect a wide range of readership. According to Feeney (2012, p. 55), “In addition to the Daily Vanguard, Vanguard Media publishes Saturday and Sunday editions of the main title, as well as a variety of specialist titles such as Sweet Crude, Hitech, and Cyber Life.” The other identical Goss Community 12-unit newspaper presses were purchased Vintage Press in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria (Feeney 2012). These units were comprised of three four-high towers, three Goss reel-stands, and one folder with half- and quarter-page capabilities (Feeney 2102, p. 55). Feeney, who is the international sales manager for the Middle East and Africa for Goss, stressed the importance of these newspaper presses to the country. According to Feeney (2012, p. 55), “Vintage, as with the other recent orders for Nigeria, is looking to build its brand reputation and readership by ensuring its print production matches the quality of its editorial. They need solid, reliable, and user-friendly press equipment that will keep rolling with minimum intervention to fulfill a commitment and duty to readers.” Taken together, it is clear that the demand for printed materials in Nigeria is already strong and continues to grow, but some empirical observations from practitioners and leaders in the field suggest there are differences in opinions concerning the proficiency of the Nigerian printing industry and these issues are discussed further below.
Stakeholder Opinions Concerning the Proficiency of the Lithographic Printing Industry
The leadership of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Professional Printers has petitioned the Nigerian government to cease the practice of outsourcing its lithographic printing needs for governmental election materials to foreign printing houses (Nigeria: A big market). The market for election materials in Nigeria is indeed enormous. For instance, a report from Anderson (2003) indicates the Edward Thompson Group printed nearly 70 million voting slips for Nigeria in 2003. According to Anderson (2003, p. 22), “The success of the work for elections in Nigeria has opened the door to other contracts in other countries. Secure printing is vital when the future of a country is at stake.” Clearly, then, there is a need for Nigerian printers with the capacity to provide secure printing, and this expertise needs to be demonstrated before the Nigerian government will outsource this requirement to domestic providers. In this regard, Anderson (2003, p. 23) also points out that, “Expertise in secure printing techniques has led the group, which has been family-owned [Edward Thompson Group] for almost 150 years, to print ballot papers for local, national and foreign governments. [In 2002], more than a third of the staff were occupied printing voting slips for five countries.” Based on the company’s experiences in providing election materials for the Nigerian government and others, these contracts meant the Edward Thompson Group could print 200 million paper ballots or more each year (Anderson 2003). The enormous need for these printing services is made clear by Anderson’s (2003, p. 23) observation that, “The level of success could lead to expansion in the future. In 2002, more than 200 [Edward Thompson Group] staff were involved in the printing of ballot papers for governments, both locally and internationally. In some cases the presses were running 24 hours a day seven days a week.” This company managed to overcome a downturn in the printing industry by providing these contractual services for secure printing to the Nigerian government, among others (Anderson 2003). The value of these outsourced printing services has not been lost on the printing industry leaders in Nigeria, either. For instance, according to the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers’ president (Nigeria: A big market, p. 14), “In this coming election, [the Nigerian government] should not go out of the country to print any election material.” In fact, the group’s leadership encouraged the Nigerian government to make arrangements for foreign suppliers of chemicals and other printing supplies to establish chemical factories and paper mills in Nigeria (Nigeria: A Big market).
According to a report from the Journal of Environmental Health (1999), the chemicals in lithographic printing have toxic potential and there is a need to educate printers concerning the dangers and risks involved in working with these substances, as well as a need to identify less caustic alternatives (DfE Pollution Prevention Case Studies 1999). An initiative underway in the United States for this purpose would be appropriate for the lithographic printing industry in Nigeria as well. In this regard, the editors of Journal of Environmental Health (1999, p. 35) report that:
The goal in working with printers is to help them make more informed choices by easing the search for and evaluation of cleaner processes, products, and technologies. Since blanket washes are the primary concern, they have been the project’s first focus. Through the demonstration of manufacturer supplied, commercially available products at volunteer printing shops, the assessment of associated human health and environmental concerns, and the evaluation of other factors, the project will make information available that will help printers make more informed decisions about the products they bring into their shops (DfE Pollution Prevention Case Studies 1999, p. 35).
Notwithstanding the need for reliable paper supplies and improvements in dependable electricity for printing shops in Nigeria, the lithographic printing industry is otherwise well positioned to take advantage of additional work from government and private sector sources. In this regard, a leader of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Professional Printers (quoted in Nigeria: A big market, p. 14) emphasizes that, “When we talk of the latest technology in printing, our people are there. Visit the top presses in Nigeria and see what they are doing. We have the technology and experiences that can enable us to handle the job.”
Notwithstanding these accolades, the printing industry in Nigeria appears to be languishing in terms of developing state-of-the-art responses and expertise to satisfy the printing needs of customers in the digital age. Although there are practitioners in the printing industry in Nigeria that use a design package known as CorelDRAW, Wilkinson (2009) reports that it can be difficult to locate printers with the tools and expertise needed today. In this regard, Wilkinson (2009, p. 95) reports that, “In Abuja at least, there were no Pantone books, no Macs, no QuarkXPress and no InDesign, limited paper supplies and no effective proofing process.” Based on his experiences in providing graphic design services for an international aid organization, Wilkinson (2009) also cites extensive problems in locating printers with the requisite hardware and software as well as the printing equipment needed to accomplish his goals. According to Wilkinson (2009, p. 95), “Finding printers who could accept my InDesign files via a PC was not easy. Different terminology, different communication and a different understanding of quality necessitated a different way of working.” In addition, Wilkinson (2009, p. 96) reports that even going above and beyond in communicating his needs to the Nigerian printer he selected was insufficient, and the proficient of the industry was reflected in his empirical observation that, “Marked-up dummies, extensive notes, frequent phone calls (on painfully bad Nigerian networks) and multiple visits still resulted in 5mm trimmed off my nice tight margins; spot colours changing hue; images filling in; misregistration; pages in the wrong order and upside down; and jobs delivered a month late.” This graphic designer also cites an unreliable electrical grid as one of the major constraints facing Nigerian printers today: “Eventually, I found a printer in Lagos who was able to produce a certain quality but power cuts, supplies, the effects of humidity upon paper and flooding during the rainy season have all continued to be a challenge” (Wilkinson 2009, p. 96). Although it is reasonable to suggest that Nigerian printers are helpless to control the sporadic power outages or weather, there are some steps that could be taken to improve the marketing opportunities for the industry that are within their scope, including acquiring the tools and capacity to compete in the digital age of printing.
Chapter Seven: Conclusion and Recommendations
As noted in the introductory chapter, this study had several objectives which are reiterated and answered in sum below.
To provide a detailed review into the literature about the past, present and the future of the lithographic industry. The research showed that lithographic printing began in the late 18th century with the innovation of the process by Alois Senefelder in 1798. Lithography gained increasing acceptance over the next several decades until it was challenged by photography and cheaper printing methods that resulted in the technology’s languishment until the latter part of the 19th century when further improvements in lithography made it competitive with alternative approaches. Lithography remained the printing medium of choice for several more decades until the 1970s when the first computer-based printing applications were introduced. Despite the competition from these more efficient methods, conventional lithographic printing remains a major industry in many parts of the world, including Nigeria.
To identify major constraints affecting the lithographic printing industry and to suggest vital avenues to improve them. The overreliance on foreign-supplied textbooks and journals is regarded as a major constraint to the Nigerian lithographic printing industry, particularly at the tertiary level of the country’s educational system. In addition, the Nigerian government continues to outsource all of its election material printing needs to foreign printing houses. These areas could be addressed in a straightforward fashion through parliamentary action, but there does not appear to be any significant interest in making this change in the foreseeable future. One of the biggest constraints to a viable lithographic printing industry in Nigeria today, though, was shown to be a degrading electrical grid that is inadequate for the needs of a modern printing house. Rolling blackouts might just be an inconvenience for some industries, but for lithographic printing concerns, this is a major constraints to productivity and profitability.
To determine the effect of the Total Quality Management System on the lithographic industry and how compliance is necessary in a changing world and dynamic marketplace. Deming’s Total Quality Management approach was shown to be a valuable approach to effecting change in organizations of all types and sizes, including lithographic printing houses. A case study of one such lithographic printing house that incorporated Deming’s total quality assurance model realized significant improvements in communications and productivity as well as improved customer service.
To provide a comprehensive comparison of the traditional lithographic printing industry with the digital printing industry to identify avenues to increase the sales of traditional lithographic products. It is reasonable to conclude that many if not most industries have been profoundly affected by the introduction of computer-based technologies over the past several decades, but the research was consistent in showing that this impact has been exceptionally salient for the lithographic printing industry. Digital-based printing operations enjoy a number of significant advantages compared to lithography that makes their use highly attractive to many conventional printers, but there remains a solid global market for the high-quality products that can be achieved through lithography.
To determine the prevailing stakeholder opinions concerning the proficiency of the lithographic printing industry. Finally, the research showed that Nigeria has a significant lithographic printing industry, especially in its capital city, Lagos, where lithographic print shops abound on every street and every other house. The establishment of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Professional Printers is reflective of the prevailing stakeholder opinions concerning the lithographic printing industry in Nigeria today, with a small but growing membership dedicated to providing the private and public sectors with the low-cost, high-quality printing that lithography can provide. There was a sense of optimism balanced by a pragmatic realization that many of the constraints that affect the lithographic printing industry in Nigeria today are not easily solved and that more time will be required to effect the changes that are needed to help create a thriving lithographic printing industry in the future.
Based on the foregoing, the following recommendations are provided:
1. Petition the Nigerian government to cease outsourcing its lithographic printing needs for election materials to foreign printing houses and contract with Nigerian printers for these services.
2. Provide local content for Nigerian readers.
3. Petition the Nigerian government to reassign textbook and other academic materials from foreign printing houses and contract with Nigerian printers for these services.
4. Petition the Nigerian government or private enterprises to establish joint ventures with foreign paper mills and printing chemicals to establish factories in Nigeria to provide a reliable source of these resources.
5. Petition the Nigerian government to support the Nigerian gum arabic industry.
6. Increase membership in the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers through membership drives and awareness campaigns.
7. Air conditioning could provide humidity control for print rooms and paper storage but this would not be a viable recommendation unless there was a corresponding improvement in the reliability of the electrical grid in Nigeria in general and in Lagos in particular. As an extreme measure, gasoline-powered electric back-up generators could be purchased to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity for climate control and press operations.
8. Nigerian banks and nongovernmental organizations can facilitate the acquisition of modern printing equipment by providing loans to Nigerian printers at low rates of interest.
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