Press "Enter" to skip to content

A turn up for the books

With a heritage stretching back nearly 200 years, HarperCollins UK publishes around 1,000 books a year. Its 900 strong workforce benefits from the extensive use of industry leading printing devices from Toshiba TEC, which are located throughout its offices in London, Glasgow and Honley.


HarperCollins is one of the world’s foremost book publishers, with a catalogue ranging from cutting edge contemporary fiction to award winning apps and everything in between. Starting life as William Collins & Sons, the UK company was founded in Glasgow in 1819 and first published bibles, atlases and dictionaries, but later grew to release works from some of history’s greatest authors such as CS Lewis, Agatha Christie and JRR Tolkien. In 1990, the business merged with Harper & Row to create Harper Collins, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the media conglomerate, News Corp.

Chapter and verse

The company’s authors currently include Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, George RR Martin and established favourites such as Bernard Cornwell, Wilbur Smith, Patricia Cornwell and Cecelia Ahern. In non-fiction, it publishes work by Max Hastings, Nigel Slater, Brian Cox and Amy Schumer. Very much a publishing house of the modern age, it was the first trade publisher to digitise its content and create a global digital warehouse, protecting the rights of authors, meeting consumer demand and generating many additional business opportunities.

HarperCollins UK is headquartered in London, next door to The Shard, while its educational sales division is based in the Yorkshire village of Honley. Its distribution centre is situated in Glasgow. Printing, scanning and copying is vital to a smooth operation across all three sites, which is why the company chooses to use innovative technology from Toshiba TEC.

‘We’ve had a great working relationship with Toshiba TEC for over 10 years now,’ says Natalie-Jane East, Technology Operations Director at HarperCollins UK. ‘We undertake regular reviews of our printing infrastructure and I’m always impressed with the new developments that Toshiba TEC brings on board to make its technology more robust, reliable and energy efficient. Not only that, but the level of service and support we get is invaluable in ensuring that we can meet our deadlines and corporate objectives.’

Read on

The London office recently relocated to a brand new location. Part of the re-location included a complete review of printing and how it is used in the business. Toshiba’s solution includes a rationalised fleet of new MFDs, a print room and an innovative print management and support solution that incorporates smarter use of electronic document workflows.

Simon Coulson, Corporate Account Director at Toshiba TEC, explains, ‘The majority of paper waste occurs from users printing to a device and then forgetting, or simply not bothering, to collect their documents. We decided that the introduction of PaperCut software was the way to go for HarperCollins UK.’

Now used in over 100 countries by 50,000 organisations, PaperCut collects data via a print server and allows administrators to monitor usage patterns and costs, and take appropriate action when necessary. The ability to implement quotas and restrict where certain types of printing can take place has been proven to facilitate significant cost savings. PaperCut allows someone to send an item to be printed, which joins a print queue. HarperCollins UK staff use their building entrance passes to access their documents via any chosen networked multifunction product (MFP), thereby keeping their documents secure. Users also have the ability to delete a specific command if necessary and after 24 hours all jobs are wiped from the machine if they are not printed and collected.

Page turner

The HarperCollins UK distribution centre in Glasgow is a particularly challenging environment, as it operates on a 24/7 basis and generates a significant amount of dust. The devices are also susceptible to bumps and knocks – racking has even been dropped on the machines in the past – and therefore have to be very robust in order to avoid downtime. Toshiba TEC carries out training with the key shift workers, showing them how to change drums and toners on the Toshiba machines.

The Glasgow site is also home to the finance department and customer services team, which support the whole book distribution business, in addition to providing sales reports for authors. Natalie-Jane East comments, ‘Authors need high quality statements, so we have an e-STUDIO colour MFP that is only used for this purpose. This device runs twice a year solidly for a week, just printing out statements.’

The plot thickens

Constant monitoring of the printing infrastructure is considered vital in order to maximise its effectiveness and ensure that the MFPs are fully optimised and printing to the highest quality.

This is especially important for jobs such as printing out covers. Natalie-Jane East explains, ‘The artwork team takes a selection of covers to meetings, lays them out on the table and chooses the one they like best. The printed version needs to be exactly as the cover will look, as these will also be sent to the author. This avoids a scenario where the end product goes to the author, who then rejects it because the cover wasn’t the same colour as the version that they approved. Colour accuracy is therefore incredibly important.’

HarperCollins UK has a service level agreement (SLA) in place with, which looks at the performance and maintenance statistics across all devices. In addition, Toshiba TEC has a full time engineer working on this contract, who is able to fix any malfunctioning devices in a very short period of time. In addition, a 15 point plan has been implemented, so that once the fault has been fixed a series of additional checks are carried out at the same time.

Problem solving

As well as works of fiction, HarperCollins UK also specialises in publishing non-fiction, education and reference books. When its cartographic team, which makes maps and atlases, wanted to convert old manuscripts that were in hard typed copy format into electronic versions, it was faced with the major task of re-typing them.

In fact, the perfect solution was at hand in the form of Toshiba TEC’s e-BRIDGE Re-Rite capture and creation software, which saved hundreds of hours of work.

Using optical character recognition (OCR) technology, e-BRIDGE Re-Rite allows users to scan hard copy documents into Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and text searchable Adobe PDF documents that are fully editable and searchable. It also provides connectors to third party solutions such as Google Docs, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and other Internet based application platforms, meaning that they too can become part of a document workflow.

These documents can then be remotely accessed, read and modified from any geographical location with an Internet connection and the time saved in scanning and converting to fully digital documents makes work quicker, easier and more accurate.


For HarperCollins UK’s Natalie-Jane East, the contract with Toshiba TEC ticks all the boxes and serves every aspect of the business – from manuscript scanning to sales reports and everything in-between. She concludes, ‘What clearly sets Toshiba TEC apart is that it is a solutions provider in the true sense of the word. It addresses our specific requirements and never adopts a one size fits all approach. The devices just work and if there’s ever a problem it is fixed immediately – it’s just seamless.’

Business Info Magazine & Site is Published by Kingswood Media 2022