The world's biggest magazine – Reader’s Digest – has set up a single European production centre in London built around a Mac-based workflow.

The magazine, which has 48 editions in 19 different languages, teamed up with London-based premedia and data-management company Colour Systems to solve its colour management problems.

MD of the Fresh Media Group, Colour Systems’ parent company David Brin told Apple: "We can centralise production for 19 editions of the magazine here in London, taking the original files, which are in many cases American, converting them from an American standard to a European one using ColorSync, and then soft proofing around Europe."

Fresh Media’s workflow solutions manager Jamie Rose said: "We use a mixture of Power Mac G4s and G5s, all tied in with an Apple Xserve server. One of the requirements of the Reader’s Digest workflow was to profile the press and provide proofs to the customer that matched what was actually going to appear.

"We brought the profiling in-house, which meant relying on ColorSync. This colour management facility is now standard across the board. We can simulate it on print, proofs and on-screen – and the entire solution is based on the Mac platform”.


Readers Digest needed a preflighting solution that would resolve colour mismatches and standardise the CMYK data of the working files. Colour Systems turned to Paris-based Alwan Colour Expertise, developers of a software solution called CMYK Optimizer. It harmonises colour separations, eliminates printability issues, and runs on Xserve.

Rose said: “It’s rock solid, a real no-brainer. Once it’s set up, you just drag and drop PDFs or images into the relevant hot folder, and it will action the optimisation. And as far as the end-users are concerned – the operators and production staff – they just log onto the Xserve and access everything from there”.

Why is colour management such a big issue for Reader's Digest? David Brin explained: “The Reader’s Digest carries adverts from all sorts of sources, many of which are not produced to the correct specification. With the CMYK Optimizer running on Xserve, we are able to optimise these ads to print correctly from a central server that everyone can access”.

According to Alwan’s founder and MD Elie Khoury: “ColorSync is a really extraordinary chance for the publishing and printing industries to carry out colour management, calculations, adjustments and adaptation using the same framework – it’s simply the best system-level colour management available today.

"If, for example, you do colour management on your ten-year-old desktop Mac, and I’m running a five-year-old PowerBook, while our printer has a brand new Mac OS X server, we’ll all get exactly the same results. No other platform can do that”.