In 1983, when Moveable Type began as a small typesetting shop, there was no Macintosh computer, no desktop publishing, no Internet. Back then, typesetting was a stand-alone industry employing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. But within a decade, once the introduction of desktop publishing systems enabled designers to handle their own typesetting, it had all but disappeared. Even the buggy whip industry lasted longer after the invention of the automobile than the typesetting industry did after the advent of desktop publishing.
So how did our company survive? We saw the writing on the wall and took measures to adapt. We noted that although designers could suddenly handle their own typesetting, they tended to simply import keystrokes into templates, and often did not have the time to look after the fussy stuff: adjusting line breaks, improving letterspacing, proofreading, ensuring style consistency, and so on. We felt that we could add value by offering a fine-tuning service, freeing up designers to focus on the big picture while we took care of the details. For labour-intensive projects like large annual reports, designers only had to provide us with a few sample spreads and we would take it from there, formatting the dense financial sections based on their templates. This approach was well-received by the design community and is still the basis of our typesetting service today.
At the same time, we realized that if we wanted to grow as a business, we would have to expand the range of our services beyond typesetting and proofreading. Over the course of the 1990s we added a number of complementary services: prepress film, high-resolution drum scans, colour laser proofs (which evolved into a full-fledged digital printing operation) and large-format inkjet posters. It was around this time that “Moveable Type” became “Moveable”, to reflect the fact that we were no longer just a typesetting company.
By the late 1990s another technological change threatened the survival of our business: the invention of direct-to-plate imaging, which eliminated the need for prepress film. By this time, Moveable had become a major player in the prepress film business. We had six imagesetters, along with proofing equipment, running around the clock. Once again, we were confronted by a tough problem: how to keep our business moving forward in the face of the inevitable disappearance of one of our main revenue streams.
That’s when we made two decisions that have shaped our company to the present day: we expanded our printing operation by adding conventional offset presses, and we plunged into the online world by acquiring a talented web development firm. Today, those two initiatives represent the fastest-growing components of our business. In fact, by 2005, Moveable Online had outgrown its parent and was spun off as a separate company. It has since become a thriving player in enterprise web content management, e-commerce and e-procurement.
Meanwhile, our printing operation has grown by leaps and bounds and now includes two digital presses, two offset presses and an in-house bindery. We are one of the few commercial printers operating in Toronto’s downtown core, near to our traditional client base of creative agencies.
Our company has undergone many changes since its humble beginnings, but a few things have remained constant. We still offer typesetting services. We still offer proofreading and copyediting. Most importantly, we still provide what one of our clients calls the “Moveable magic” – our commitment to quality and great service in everything that we do.