Desktop Publishing / Cost, Speed, Efficiency Prove Strengths of Electronic Publishing

Article excerpt

BOSTON - The looming changes in federal tax law have created a special challenge for Accountants Microsystems Inc., a Bellevue, Wash., maker of softwa re for accountants. With the passage of the tax revision bill, the company must revise its software packages and nearly six dozen support documents, including both graphics and text. And next year will require more product changes, according to Ole Kvern, the company's publications specialist.

Yet Kvern said he was confident the task would be completed on time and within budget - all because of electronic publishing.

""Our cost per page is now $1 to $3,'' he said. ""Before we got an electronic publishing system in November 1984, it was $10 to $15. And it shaves two-thirds of the time off the process.''

An electronic publishing system lets workers combine the basics of word processing - the ability to write, edit, proofread and transmit documents - with a graphics capability that allows them to integrate charts, tables, headlines and drawings into the documents. All the steps can be done at a video terminal. The result, whether one page long or of book length, can then be sent electronically to a typesetter or to a more modest office printer.

Although companies must still turn to outside commercial printers for sophisticated color printing and elaborate binding, desk-top publishing now enables them to produce almost any documents neededfor internal use.

Robert Reisner, director of financial analysis for the RCA Corp., said: ""With such a compression of time and dollar savings, it's a non-issue. You have to buy an electronic publishing system.''

Such enthusiasm helps explain the spurt in computer publishing, an industry that grew to more than $500 million in sales last year from almost nothing in 1983, according to CAP International, a market research concern in Marshfield, Mass.

Investors have been pouring millions of dollars into stock offerings by companies that provide software or integrated hardware-and-software systems for desk-top publishing.

Interleaf Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., developer of software for computer-aided publishing and a packager of integrated systems, raised $24.6 million in its initial public offering in June. Xyvision Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., a software publisher, raised $18.9 million in the same month. Adobe Systems Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., which creates software for publishing, raised $5.6 million last month.

The industry gained further attention when the International Business Machines Corp. announced the formation on July 2 of a unit to develop and market hardware and software designed specifically for computer-aided publishing (CAP, in industry jargon). …