Mov­ing into the book business with Prisma Print

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - MAIKE VAN DER HEIDE

When Katie Ras­mussen showed up for a cup of cof­fee with friends, she never dreamed she’d be of­fered a business.

But that’s ex­actly what hap­pened, and next month Katie and hus­band Ant will take over Prisma Print from John and Ma­ree Pen­ney.

When she was in­vited for cof­fee, Katie orig­i­nally sus­pected the Pen­neys were going to of­fer her a job. But when they of­fered her the business, she was ‘‘flab­ber­gasted’’.

‘‘They showed me around and it was awe­some. It was de­signed for me. It’s the equip­ment I’m used to, the soft­ware I use and and it’s the work I re­ally like do­ing.’’

The mother-of-four says sit­ting alone in an of­fice and tak­ing the time to de­sign and put to­gether a book some­one has spent so much time writ­ing is one of her favourite things to do.

From July 17, she will be do­ing ex­actly that in her new of­fice at 14 Alana Pl in Wither­lea, Blen­heim.

Katie’s ca­reer in the print­ing business started about 20 years ago when she ‘‘dropped out of school’’ to at­tend what is now the Marl­bor­ough Com­mu­nity Col­lege. There, her tu­tor, the owner of a print­ing com­pany, of­fered her work which she did un­til her first child, who is now 18.

Then, Cus­tom Copy of­fered her a job, where she has stayed for 17 years. Katie says her cur­rent job mainly in­volves do­ing com­mer­cial fly­ers and sta­tionery which she en­joys, but de­sign­ing books is her true pas­sion.

That pas­sion is shared by John and Ma­ree, who ini­tially set out to fo­cus on short-run books, but have al­ways han­dled a full range of print tasks.

‘‘The best part of the job is al­ways the plea­sure of watching an au­thor see their book for the first time,’’ John says. ‘‘It is an emo­tional time for most au­thors who have usu­ally spent be­tween two and seven years writ­ing their book. We work very closely with our au­thors from first con­tact through to help­ing them sell their books.’’

John says they are cre­ative thinkers and ‘‘of­ten look at what we do as a craft rather than a print job’’. Their de­ci­sion to sell was based on sev­eral rea­sons in­clud­ing John’s Parkin­son’s Dis­ease and a de­sire to re­lo­cate tem­po­rar­ily to Toowoomba, near Bris­bane, to be closer to Ma­ree’s ex­tended fam­ily.

‘‘We are both near re­tire­ment age and lack the en­thu­si­asm we had 16 years ago. We firmly be­lieve Katie and Ant are bet­ter suited to run Prisma Print from here on. They have the skills, the ded­i­ca­tion and the en­ergy to con­tinue its success.’’

How­ever, John says re­tire- ment isn’t hap­pen­ing just yet.

‘‘I have a com­puter and tech­nol­ogy mu­seum to turn into some­thing tan­gi­ble and a cou­ple of small business ideas that might see the light of day af­ter a de­cent break.’’

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/FAIR­FAX NZ

Katie Ras­mussen has a pas­sion for book de­sign and pub­lish­ing.

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