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The Art of Comic Proofing

The Glénat Group, founded in 1969, employs over 200 people across three locations: Grenoble (its headquarters), Boulogne, and Paris (Hugo Publishing).

The Grenoble site houses all administrative activities and the editorial department for books (such as coffee table books, cookbooks, books about fine wine and fine dining cuisine). The editorial services for comics (youth, manga, and licensed titles) are located in Boulogne, along with the sales and marketing departments.

As a founding member of the group, Glénat Éditions specialises in publishing comics, manga, coffee table books, hiking guides, youth books, and licensed titles (partnerships with editors like HFA, Prisma, CMI, Reworld Media and more). It generates over 200m in revenue, thanks in particular to manga and the acquisition of Hugo Publishing in 2022 (resulting in a 200% increase in printed copies since 2020).

Within this editorial department is Glénat Production, which includes an integrated photogravure printing facility, the purchasing department (in charge of getting and negotiating printer quotes), and the prepress team responsible for producing print files

 

Julien Baléria oversees the workshop and leads the production department, which consists of 4 prepress operators, seven graphic designers, two scanners, and one digital printing operator. His responsibilities include coordinating file production, creating schedules for the prepress team, ensuring timely delivery, and managing distribution to 15 to 20 printers across Europe and France. This entails handling a substantial volume of 600 new titles and 1,000 to 1,500 reprints annually.

 

What issue led you to DALIM SOFTWARE?

Our previous online validation and proofing system worked with Flash, which became obsolete at the end of 2020. After creating specifications and studying various supplier offers, we shortlisted two solutions... and the DALIM SOFTWARE offer came out on top.

 

What were the main criteria that led you to choose DALIM SOFTWARE?
We were primarily looking for a solution that could handle HD PDFs and had an integrated digital asset management (DAM) library for proofing. Additionally, we wanted the marketing and communication teams to have easy access to elements from the DAM library for their cam- paigns, thereby reducing the workload for Glénat Production. Before implementing DALIM ES, we received over 1,500 PDF requests per year.

 

How is access to the digital library facilitated for the involved departments? We have set up dedicated accounts to avoid any interference with file tracking between Glénat Production and the editors. All the employees who need access to the digital library can now use the service without any complications.

 

Is your department managing the accounts?

Yes. Aurélie Demard, a graphic designer responsible for cross-functional projects in the workshop, manages the account set- tings. Beforehand, we decided on the specific access rights to each department based on their requirements.

 

Were these custom configurations done exclusively by your team, or did you collaborate with DALIM SOFTWARE or perhaps with the help of an integrator?
One of the significant strengths of DALIM SOFTWARE is that they provided us with a “ready-to-use” solution. However, they also allowed us to request highly personalised config- urations, especially when integrating our existing ERP systems and workflows into the tool. By combining the current setup with the DALIM ES tool, we could work nearly identically while taking advantage of the user-friendly interface.

 

Was this modularity a specific requirement from the beginning?
Yes, it was included in the initial specifications. Additionally, the user-friendly nature of the solution and the ability to incorporate everything into DALIM ES (including ePubs, which I didn’t mention earlier) tilted the scale in favour of DALIM SOFTWARE.

 

Since when has DALIM ES been in production?
The initial meetings with DALIM SOFTWARE began in December 2019, but actual produc- tion started in February 2021. The pandemic and the necessity to work remotely delayed the implementation by a year. The main challenge of working remotely was coordinating the adjust- ments together. Developing and fine-tuning together from a distance proved more difficult than using the tool itself.

 

So, you’re saying the lockdown came six months too early?
Yes, that’s right. Today, it wouldn’t be an issue if we were to face another lockdown. We know how to configure everything and are self-sufficient.

 

And what has happened in the last two years?
We initially began by incorporating the new releases into the DAM library and then migrated the existing catalogue. As of now, our collection consists of 12,500 titles, encompassing nearly all of Glénat’s historical catalogue. The remain- ing few titles not yet in the system will be added gradually based on the demand for reprints.

 

Have you observed significant improve- ments since implementing DALIM ES?

Absolutely! For example, our PDF requests have decreased from 1,500 to 350, resulting in substantial time savings. Requesters can now access PDFs immediately and independently. As we continue migrating older titles into the system, the benefits will increase even more, especially for titles dating back 20 to 30 years, which previously took longer to make available. Depending on events, we must always keep availability for rediscovering the works of specific authors that we might not have initially considered for reprinting.

 

Earlier, you mentioned ePubs. Could you provide more details?
Certainly! All our new releases are now available in ePub format. We integrated our workflow to create Hachette-specific ePubs, and now we use DALIM ES to generate and send them directly to Hachette.

 

Apart from its modularity, PDF service, and automated ePub integration, what are the other strengths of DALIM ES that you consider most important?
Another major advantage of the platform is its capability to use HD PDFs through a simple web browser, equipped with tools almost identical to Acrobat Pro. This feature allows us to measure ink coverage, among other things.

 

Additionally, the layout has significantly improved. Previously, we had separate sections for the cover, inner pages, and endpapers. But now, we can view the entire book in order and as a complete unit.

 

Furthermore, the annotation options are incredibly useful for the editorial team and the production department during the approval cycle, enabling them to provide effective feedback to our facility.

 

What are the significant challenges that Glénat Production is facing?
Currently, Glénat Production is mainly facing challenges due to the rise in demand for manga. We are dealing with an increasing number of manga titles while the paper production volume is declining. In the short and medium term, our focus is on ensuring timely book production and efficiently sourcing the necessary raw materials.

 

Interestingly, the lockdown has sparked a renewed interest in physical books, with paper surpassing the virtual format. Nonetheless, digital consumption, especially for manga, remains significant, as young readers enjoy previewing chapters of upcoming books.

 

In addition, we are taking on the ambitious task of integrating the entire One Piece collection, which comprises over a hundred volumes, divided into chapters for the ePub format. These chapters are now available for sale on our Glénat Manga Max website, launched in early 2022.

 

Statements collected by Didier Destabeaux.

About the author
Liam BELL
As a content manager with a multicultural background, I am dedicated to creating impactful content that extends my reach globally. I seek meaningful opportunities and challenges that engage my passion for helping others and solving problems through innovative content creation.