The consequences of not buying yearbooks locally

Granville Island public market in vancouver

The biggest and longest standing yearbook companies print from their own plants to make the most profit from the yearbook product. They get to set wages in their plants and they get volume discounts on paper and supplies the more yearbooks they can print.

The only other way to make substantial profit in printing yearbooks, without owning one’s own plant, is to print in a company where labour is so cheap, that one might as well own a plant. We’ve addressed here the issues with printing in China.

If you are printing with a large company that owns their own plant, you have to be okay with 1) a long turnaround time, 2) diverting local economic gain to another province or country, 3) the gross environmental impact of shipping extremely heavy books which, admittedly, have already taken their toll on the environment, and 4) not being able to easily check on the facilities to ensure fair treatment of employees and soundly ethical business practices.

Printing is printing. Quality of basic printing does not vary that significantly from plant to plant. Paper and ink is paper and ink, and even the nicest hardcover books are just made from cardboard and paper or fabric. Anyone who examines a yearbook long enough can figure out how to piece one together themselves, imagining accurately the process. (When you look at how simple book construction really is, it’s pretty remarkable how sturdy they are and how beautifully they can endure, preserving records and memories!)

A local company can print a yearbook as well as an American or foreign printer. The only considerations left to make are:

  1. Can this company do spot UV coating or any of the wild and special features I want? (The answer is likely yes.)
  2. How much will it cost?

Cost is a big part of deciding what yearbook company should print your yearbooks. If the school can save money to use for students’ benefit, while still designing a great yearbook with expert help, that’s exactly what we’d like to see. (Luckily we have winning plans for how we can do that for you.)

But cost at what cost?

1. LONG TURNAROUND TIMES. When we first got into the yearbook industry, we couldn’t believe that schools had to stop documenting the year at the beginning of April! That’s three months lost. It would seem that “yearbook” is then a misnomer.

2. DIVERTING LOCAL ECONOMIC GAIN TO OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY. The theory, of course, is that if Toronto, for example, suddenly became a multi-industry hub of business operations so cheap that large and small operations in the West began sending all of our business there, economic growth and security in our own cities would dwindle so much that local businesses would start shutting down or cutting jobs. The downward spiral effect, in the worst case scenario, leads to economic collapse.

There’s more to consider than worst case scenarios, though. Community engagement and business trading creates loyalty and relationships that lead to support systems. Your community will take care of you in hard times if you’ve invested into it. The more you invest into your community, the more you will get back.

We have more to say on the economic pros of buying locally if you click here.

3. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT. We absolutely have to cut down our fossil fuel emissions yesterday. Anyone who has been paying attention to climate change and the latest predictions knows that the situation is dire and certain. Some of us are hopeful that more incredible innovations like algae streetlights and highways can help stave off complete disaster. In the meantime, we have to cease our dependency on oil.

What are we doing trucking in yearbooks from the US and Manitoba and shipping them from China only to truck them further, when we can print RIGHT HERE? This is environmental madness. Totally unnecessary and for the benefit of no one besides large corporations who are arguably already wealthy enough to take care of themselves and their families into old age.

4. FAIR LABOUR. We love living in BC for countless reasons. One reason is the heightened awareness of what it means to be an ethical consumer and decent person. It’s okay to not know why fair labour is important—there’s always more to learn about how to improve one’s own ethical footprint—but it’s not okay to know but not care. What is fair labour? Basically, treating people the way we want to be treated. It’s not okay to say, “Well, that’s just how things are done in their country/state/community. They are actually the lucky ones there,” if how things are done there is not how we would want things done here on a basic level.

Printing locally, we can stop in any time to inspect how things work in the plant we use. We can communicate in the same language to the workers, not merely trusting what the head of the company tells us about how they treat workers. We can trust in how our government regulates worker’s rights. It’s so simple and it feels right.

We’re so excited to fix what we see as problems in the yearbook industry and we are counting on your support so that we can offer:

      • superior education from small local graphic design professionals who are also parents of youth
      • a more meaningful product teens want to have
      • a less stressful experience for teachers new to yearbook
      • 100% FIPPA compliance for everyone’s peace of mind
      • stimulus to our local economies
      • support to schools’ anti-bullying initiatives
      • a heightened environmental, fair labour and fair wages consciousness
      • personal service with people you want to work with

Contact us today!

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