Quark Deals for Designers of Tomorrow, While Price-Gouging Designers of Today

Quark inks deal with Scholastic to pursue Australia's designers of the future, but price-gouged designers of today--and tomorrow--prefer InDesign.

Today Scholasitc Australia, a ful­ly owned sub­sidiary of New York-based chil­dren’s pub­lish­ing and media com­pa­ny Scholastic Inc, announced that it has reached an agree­ment with Denver, Colo.-based Quark, Inc. Scholastic’s Media & Technology divi­sion will dis­trib­ute the com­plete range of QuarkXPress retail, edu­ca­tion, and vol­ume license prod­ucts for both Mac and Windows through nation­al Australian reseller chan­nels serv­ing the pro­fes­sion­al, retail, and edu­ca­tion mar­kets.

Designers of the Future

Scholastic will assist Quark in devel­op­ing and deploy­ing mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and cus­tomer pro­grams, coor­di­na­tion of train­ing and sem­i­nars, and devel­op­ment of school and ter­tiary edu­ca­tions chan­nels for Quark’s prod­ucts. The deal also has Scholastic pro­vid­ing licens­ing sup­port through cus­tomer ser­vices and account man­age­ment con­tact with resellers nation­al­ly. Advertising and pro­mo­tion­al sup­port will be pro­vid­ed through the com­pa­ny’s MDF pro­gram.

Scholastic’s Media & Technology Division spe­cialis­es in value-added soft­ware dis­tri­b­u­tion and mar­ket­ing ser­vices cov­er­ing design, ani­ma­tion , web- pub­lish­ing, and Speech soft­ware prod­ucts from mar­ket lead­ers Autodesk, Autodesk media & enter­tain­ment, Macromedia, WACOM , Scansoft, and Curious Labs. The com­pa­ny is based on the New South Wales Central Coast, with a nation­al dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work cov­er­ing over 1000 retail stores, resellers, and edu­ca­tion­al spe­cial­ists.

Scholastic’s strength in the Australian edu­ca­tion chan­nel is extreme­ly impor­tant to Quark,” said Gyan Prakash, vice pres­i­dent of sales for the Asia, Middle East, and Africa regions of Quark. “Getting QuarkXPress into class­rooms through­out Australia, with the help of Scholastic, means that QuarkXPress will be wide­ly used and will also give Quark insight into what the design­ers of the future want and need in their tools.”

Designers of Today & Tomorrow

While Quark pur­sues Australia’s design­ers of future gen­er­a­tions, the cur­rent and next gen­er­a­tion of Australia’s design­ers are already aban­don­ing an over-priced XPress for the greater free­dom and flex­i­bil­i­ty of InDesign.

Print 21, a news site devot­ed to the print­ing indus­try in Australia and New Zealand, recent­ly asked its read­ers which they pre­fer, QuarkXPress or InDesign. Wednesday, Print 21 pub­lished a selec­tion of respons­es.

John Lander, man­ag­ing direc­tor for Print Creations Bendigo writes:

This year we bit the bul­let and switched from Quark to InDesign along with OSX. …My staff…were all extreme­ly pro Quark and adverse to change. We are now six months on and all six staff say they would hate to go back to Quark as it is a vast­ly infe­ri­or prod­uct.

From a per­son­al point of view it was a plea­sure to leave Quark and their arro­gance behind.

Sarah Jones, a design & pre­press teacher at RMIT’s International Centre of Graphic Technology says:

Almost every full-time stu­dent prefers InDesign over Quark, it is a much more com­fort­able for­mat for them, and this seems to be the only rea­son why. These stu­dents will go out of their way not to use Quark, it is not prac­ti­cal to them. …Currently, it seems dif­fi­cult for them to get jobs as most of them are unable to use Quark to indus­try stan­dard. Yet, the major­i­ty of appren­tices pre­fer Quark (as they use it in the work­place)

As most peo­ple head­ing into our area are not from appren­tice­ship back­grounds, I can see that even­tu­al­ly InDesign will win over.

From Kym Flannery, adver­tis­ing & design recruit­ment con­sul­tant, Asphar & Associates:

In my new career in Recruitment for the Advertising, Design and Print Industry I have found most, 65% plus, of our clients are request­ing InDesign expe­ri­ence as a stan­dard skill set. I know of at least one train­ing com­pa­ny that has start­ed can­celling Quark cours­es, while their InDesign cours­es are booked back to back…All in all I think unless the Quark com­pa­ny quick­ly makes a major cul­ture shift, they will lose this race. The only real issues with InDesign are more ‘pilot error’ issues than true faults with this pack­age. We live in inter­est­ing times.

Will the Scholastic deal, clear­ly a wise and foward-looking strat­e­gy for Quark, be enough to ensure QuarkXPress use among future gen­er­a­tions of Aussie design­ers?

Costs of Designing Business

Even as U.S. XPress users hail the free tech­ni­cal sup­port, improved cus­tomer ser­vice, and com­pet­i­tive pric­ing enact­ed by for­mer Quark, Inc. CEO Kamar Aulakh dur­ing the past 18 months, out­side the U.S., the rest of the world is still wait­ing on hold.

In the United States, QuarkXPress 6.5 retails for US$995 (cur­rent­ly on pro­mo­tion­al pric­ing of $699). With today’s con­ver­sion rates, QuarkXPress 6.5 costs Australians exact­ly three times what Americans pay--1769 or US$2,112.

To put those prices in con­text, we checked some oth­er mission-critical appli­ca­tions most cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als buy.

  • Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, Acrobat 7 Professional, Version Cue, and the Adobe Bridge)
    Retail in United States: US$1,199
    Retail in Australia: 1370 (US$1635)
  • Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 Standard Edition (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage)
    Retail in United States: US$399
    Retail in Australia: 402 (US$480)
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004
    Retail in United States: US$399
    Retail in Australia: 363 (US$433)
  • Corel Painter IX
    Retail in United States: US$429
    Retail in Australia: 402 (US$480)

Although soft­ware prices for Australia are some­what high­er than in the United States, all are less than a 50% increase. But, at triple the price, QuarkXPress 6.5 has a greater than 200% markup.

The retail price dif­fer­ences are often attrib­uted to the require­ment for Australian soft­ware to be writ­ten in, and sup­port dictionary-based text fuc­tions such as spelling and hyphen­ation adher­ing to, International English or UK English instead of US English. That require­ment affects desk­top appli­ca­tions to vary­ing degrees--from the sim­ple need of alter­nate ASCII dic­tio­nary files, to sig­nif­i­cant changes in the code­base. However, before writ­ing off lan­guage dif­fer­ences as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for price goug­ing, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize that all of the above soft­ware has the same requirement--even Adobe’s Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition, whose InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, GoLive, and Acrobat all have spell-checkers and per­form oth­er language-based text han­dling.

From the van­tage point of Quark’s world head­quar­ters in Denver, Colorado, it looks like the peo­ple aren’t the only thing upside-down in Australia.

Is Quark real­ly woo­ing Australian cre­atives, or should we use anoth­er verb that rhymes with woo­ing?

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16 Responses

  1. Samuel says:

    I went through the above arti­cle, well the feel­ing that I got is that Pariah, Jeff and Samuel you all are doing the Bill Troop act for Adobe. Well you all went up and crit­i­cized his pro Quark instance, I don’t know what should I say for you all. Well I have got Xpress v7 pre-release and I am doing analy­sis, soon I will come up with fair (and I mean it) com­par­i­sion between IndesignCS and V7. I request you all to see the oth­er side of the coin too.

  2. Jeff says:

    Pariah called Quark 7 “unsexy, but strong” in a head­line pre­view­ing Quark 7. That’s not an anti-Quark remark. You obvi­ous­ly have a hard time hear­ing neg­a­tive press about Quark, but that does­n’t give you the right to ques­tion any­one’s objec­tiv­i­ty (espe­cial­ly those of us who haven’t post­ed very often). It’s insult­ing – at least to me – to be com­pared to a hack like Bill Troop.

    The fact of the mat­ter here is that, whether you like it or not, Pariah rais­es two valid points (one in favor of Quark and one not). Quark has been finan­cial­ly goug­ing users who need to work in mul­ti­ple lan­guages (mean­ing the major­i­ty of the rest of the world) with XPress Passport for years, typ­i­cal of their arro­gance. It was, how­ev­er, a wise move to get into the edu­ca­tion mar­ket. I’ve only been out of school for a year. The major­i­ty of my class­mates pre­fer InDesign because we don’t have the years invest­ed in Quark that our more expe­ri­enced coun­ter­parts have. Both com­pa­nies I interned with and my cur­rent employ­er switched to InDesign (based in part on dis­cus­sions I was a part of because I had exten­sive expe­ri­ence with the pro­gram), and none of the 3 have so much as peeked over their shoul­der since. Quark is wise to go after new users. Whether or not it will be enough to help them remains to be seen.

    If you’re going to com­pare InDesign to Quark, the only rel­e­vant com­par­i­son is with InDesign CS2 (30-day, FULLY FUNCTIONAL tri­al down­load now avail­able). InDesign CS is irrel­e­vant lega­cy soft­ware. Bill Troop’s biggest mis­take was to com­pare Quark 7 (soft­ware with no con­crete release date) with an unnamed but OBVIOUSLY lega­cy ver­sion of InDesign (he tout­ed fea­tures that were avail­able in CS2 as exclu­sive to Quark) – irrel­e­vant, con­sid­er­ing CS2 had been announced over a month pri­or. Don’t make the same mis­take he did.

    Analyze to your heart’s con­tent, but InDesign CS is irrel­e­vant. I have CS2, and it just paid for itself hand-over-fist with a very mas­sive project I had to do over the hol­i­day week­end. Even my slight­ly skep­ti­cal Creative Director said we would nev­er have got­ten a doc­u­ment as impres­sive in the time we had out of Quark.

    Can you release any details about this pre­re­lease you have? I’d be very sur­prised if you did­n’t have to sign an NDA as part of the test­ing process. If you expect any­one oth­er than Quark fun­da­men­tal­ists to take you seri­ous­ly, you’re going to have to pro­vide some­thing more than a “trust me, I’ve seen it and it’s great” or rehash of already-announced fea­tures. You’re also going to have to com­pare it to InDesign’s cur­rent release. I don’t see how you’re analy­sis is rel­e­vant oth­er­wise.

    If you like Quark bet­ter, just say so. You cer­tain­ly don’t have to jus­ti­fy your deci­sion to me or any­one else. I’m just dis­cussing this for the sake of dis­cus­sion. And for every­one’s sake, let Bill Troop go. Nothing he’s said will ever win you any points.

  3. I’ve want­ed to fol­low up to this, but real­ly, Jeff said it bet­ter than even I could.

    Jeff, you “get” what we’re try­ing to do here. Samuel, to be blunt, you don’t.

    Still, I’d wel­come some informed com­men­tary and infor­ma­tion on what XPress 7 can and will do for the lay­out artist. I’m eager to see what­ev­er you have, and await what­ev­er it is you have to say about V7 with great inter­est.

  4. Samuel says:

    Well guys, I worked real­ly hard to see what v7 has in offer for us, I can’t dis­close the actu­al fea­ture set of v7 because I am bound not to do that. Well I com­pared fea­tures of both, and assigned cer­tain marks to both the soft­wares, this was real­ly a very exhaus­tive com­par­i­sion. In the end out of total 120 marks, InCs got 63 and V7 got 96. InCS lagged behind since it has some fea­tures miss­ing which V7 has in offer­ing. For me hold­ing the breath has wroked well, and I think v7 will make many users hap­py. Well I am dieing to dis­close some of its killing features,but I am bound. Well For Jeff and Sameul, I can bet that this v7 will make you think. Whatever I have writ­ten here, I stand by it.

    I have gone through Jeff’s last com­ment and will come up with an answer because I could­n’t find time to answer it.If you real­ly beleive in debat­ing mer­its of a soft­ware then I hope you for sure will find more mer­its that demer­its in v7. Well let me tell you that I am not pro Quark and Anti Adobe, infact I also planned to shift to Indesign but V7’s announced fea­ture set real­ly impressed me, thats why I just stopped. And now I can say that this stop was real­ly worth.

  5. I can see you worked very hard to pre­pare a very earnest analy­sis of QuarkXPress as com­pared with InDesign. This is to your cred­it.

    However, blunt­ly, it’s not of much use.

    While it’s praise­wor­thy that you assigned scores to var­i­ous fea­tures and rat­ed them accord­ing­ly (I’m will­ing to cut you the ben­e­fit of the doubt that you were as impar­tial as could be), since you can’t tell us what it was you val­ued and how you val­ued them, those num­bers are just that…numbers.

    Moreover, since we have no way of know­ing what you rat­ed, how you rat­ed it, or why, I have to stip­u­late that I’m giv­ing you the ben­e­fit of the doubt on impar­tial­i­ty.

    Another trou­bling point is, unless I mis­read your text or you mistyped, you are still com­par­ing the notion­al V7 with InDesign CS. As Jeff point­ed out, the valid com­par­i­son is against CS2, not CS! The rea­sons for that should be self-evident, but in case they aren’t, here’s two points to cons­der: CS could­n’t access PSD lay­ers, but CS2 can, thus elmi­nat­ing the advan­tage QuarkVista gave XPress, and CS is no longer the cur­rent ver­sion any­way.

    QuarkXPress 7 is, pre­sum­ably, meant to com­pete with InDesign CS2…not InDesign CS. You may as well com­pare XPress 5 to InDesign 1.5.…or apples to oranges.…

    Unless you are will­ing to clue us on what it is you rat­ed, there’s no point in it; Statements such as “I hope you will for sure find more mer­its than demer­its in v7” have lit­tle mean­ing if we can’t talk about what it is you see that is mer­it­wor­thy.

    And to the state­ment “Well For Jeff and Sameul, I can bet that this v7 will make you think” the only pos­si­ble answer is “Well, yes, but as you can see above, not what you want­ed me to.”

  6. Jeff says:

    I just did a com­par­i­son of my own, and by a score of 3,492,176 to 8, I’ve deter­mined Curling should­n’t be an Olympic sport. Like SJK, I don’t mean to be blunt, but sub­tle­ty obvi­ous­ly isn’t get­ting through to you. For rea­sons I’ve already out­lined, this com­par­i­son and $1.50 will get you a cup of cof­fee.

    If you need­ed to reaf­firm your deci­sion to stick with Quark by doing this com­par­i­son, then I hope you got out of it what you want­ed to, but your “results” are noth­ing but abstract num­bers to the rest of us. Quantifying your expe­ri­ence does­n’t make it any more mean­ing­ful. Page lay­out is a vast indus­try serv­ing many peo­ple. Different work­flows will be more effi­cient with dif­fer­ent pro­grams. What you gave a 63 I might give a 163. My work­flow is more effi­cient with InDesign, and I argue that more work­flows would be if they gave they gave the pro­gram a fair shot.

    In the end, the only num­ber that mat­ters is the num­ber of hours it takes you to do a project (time is mon­ey). I save close to a dozen hours a week in a Quark-free work­flow (no exag­ger­a­tion). In order to make wait­ing for 7 worth it – when­ev­er it does actu­al­ly come out – it would have to make up for all the time I lost by stick­ing with Quark 6.5 instead of switch­ing to InDesign CS2 when it came out at the end of April. That’s vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble, con­sid­er­ing Quark 7 is already almost 3 months behind and we don’t even have a release date yet.

    There’s no point in dis­cussing Quark 7 with­out hav­ing some­thing con­crete to dis­cuss. This does­n’t fit that cri­te­ria.

  7. aussi bref says:

    I won­der if Samuel would still stick with Quark Xpress if he had to pay 3 times the price of Indesign as we do in Australia. Quark’s pric­ing pol­i­cy has been on the nose here for so long, that, as soon as Indesign 2 came out, design­ers in this here start­ed switch­ing in droves. We don’t just dis­like Quark we loathe the com­pa­ny with a pas­sion!

  8. Samuel says:

    Yes, I agree that the com­par­i­sions that I did might appear just abstract num­bers as there’s no expla­na­tion about it. But let me reas­sure you that let Quark come out with all fea­tures, I will come up with the details of the points giv­en to both the soft­wares by me and where Quark did score. I will soon come up with the scores that I gave to the fea­tures already announced by Quark. I think it will prove my point a bit.

  9. Samuel says:

    Here it goes…….
    Feature Quark IndesignCS3
    JDF 4 0
    Transparency 4(Color Level) 2(Object Level)
    Vista 4 0
    Picture Background 4(Just one click) 2(very inef­fi­cient)

  10. Samuel says:

    Its not readable.…so doing it again.
    JDF /4/0
    Transparency/4(Color Level)/2(Object Level)
    Picture Background/4(Just one click)/2(very inef­fi­cient)

  11. I’ve read Jeff’s com­ments above a cou­ple of times since he post­ed them, but now it strikes me that I would like to clar­i­fy just one lit­tle point:
    “Pariah called Quark 7 â€œunsexy, but strong” in a head­line pre­view­ing Quark 7.”
    Actually, I called the VDP, JDF, and XML fea­tures unsexy but strong, refer­ring to the fact that, while amaz­ing­ly strong and much need­ed tech­nolo­gies, they’re not as sexy as trans­paren­cy or OpenType sup­port, which were the pre­vi­ous­ly divulged fea­tures. Because Quark does not give pre­view betas to peri­od­i­cal writ­ers and edi­tors, I’ve not seen Quark 7 and could not make a judge­ment on its over­all sex appeal or strength.

    By the way, I sin­cere­ly thank you, Jeff, for your com­men­tary in this thread. As Samuel J. Klein not­ed, you get what we do here at Quark VS InDesign​.com, and we gen­uine­ly appre­ci­ate that.

  12. Samuel,

    Your tab-aligned, mono­space data isn’t going to work in plain text on the Web. XHTML allows nei­ther tabs nor more than a sin­gle con­tigu­ous space char­ac­ter to dis­play. I changed it to use vir­gules (slash­es) to sep­a­rate your fea­tures and scores--which is not to say I endorse or even under­stand what you wrote; I sim­ply made it read­able.

    Regardless of that, your num­bers are con­fus­ing and out of con­text. Clearly you’ve put in a great deal of effort and have a good grasp of both pro­grams, but with­out a frame of ref­er­ence it’s dif­fi­cult for any­one to put your num­bers into prag­mat­ic thought.

    Everyone can talk about XPress 7 in abstracts all he wants, but none of it will make sense until the NDAs lift and the prod­uct releas­es. At which point, of course, Quark VS InDesign​.com will pro­vide a thor­ough, fair, point-for-point com­par­i­son between QuarkXPress 7 and InDesign CS2.

    Until every­one can see XPress 7 for him­self, claims of XPress 7’s supe­ri­or­i­ty to any­thing are unprov­able and, frankly, bor­ing rhetoric.

  13. Following Samuel:

    Feature Quark IndesignCS3

    It’s CS2, not CS3. In terms of ver­sions, CS2 is InDesign Version 4. CS was InDesign Version 3. Which ver­sion are you talk­ing about?
    Samuel, again:


    Which I read as rat­ing the still-notional XPress 7 with a score of 4 for hav­ing QuarkVista, and InDesign ver­sion (what­ev­er) 0 for not hav­ing QuarkVista.

    That is an absurd rat­ing, for a cou­ple of rea­sons. Not only does the cur­rent ver­sion of InDesign (CS2 or Version 4) allow access to PSD lay­ers, any­one with the CS2 has Photoshop, which pro­vides lay­er blend­ing, and Bridge, which makes mov­ing between the two all but seam­less. Moreover, even though QuarkVista is, in my opin­ion, a bril­liant XTension and gen­er­al­ly well-executed, Quark is the pro­gram that need­ed it. CS1, even with­out the Bridge, is inte­grat­ed well enough that mov­ing between InDesign and Photoshop to change PSDs was­n’t too tough

    (Note: in the inter­ests of cor­rec­tion, please not that in one of my replies above I said that QuarkVista’s advan­tage had been trumped by InDesign CS2 because CS2 allowed access to PSD lay­ers. This is inex­cus­ably incor­rect. The XTension that pro­vides PSD access isn’t QuarkVista, but PSD Import.)

  14. Jeff Zimmerman says:

    Feature/ Quark/ IndesignCS3
    JDF /4/0
    Transparency/ 4(Color Level)/ 2(Object Level)
    Picture Background/ 4(Just one click)/ 2(very inef­fi­cient)

    Now we have some­thing to talk about (albeit not much).

    JDF - you can check a box in CS2’s PDF export (Advanced pane) to have it auto­mat­i­cal­ly open Acrobat’s JDF dia­log. I’ve nev­er used it and can’t eval­u­ate its user-friendliness, but it IS there. While this is tech­ni­cal­ly not a part of InDesign, it is con­sis­tent among ALL CS2 prod­ucts, and the process is seam­less enough that giv­ing InDesign a “0” isn’t entire­ly accu­rate (in my opin­ion).

    Transparency - does Quark sup­port advanced blend­ing modes (mul­ti­ply, screen, soft light, etc) like InDesign? While col­or lev­el opac­i­ty sounds like it would be use­ful, InDesign’s blend­ing modes cre­ate beau­ti­ful designs and I val­ue those more than I val­ue it being at the col­or lev­el. Ignoring these is over­sim­pli­fy­ing this fea­ture and if you did­n’t con­sid­er this before, you need to reeval­u­ate this.

    Picture back­ground - I’m not quite sure what you are talk­ing about with this fea­ture. I believe you are talk­ing about col­or­ing a greyscale graph­ic (llike duo­ton­ing) and am respond­ing under that assump­tion. I can see how sea­soned Quark users would think this is cum­ber­some, but once you learn the key com­mands, it’s a small price to pay for oth­er InDesign fea­tures. Not dis­put­ing your score, just say­ing it’s not some­thing that deserves the same weight as trans­paren­cy.

    Now, you’ve obvi­ous­ly cho­sen to eval­u­ate fea­tures that were exclu­sive to Quark (giv­ing InDesign a “0” for those cat­e­gories). What fea­tures did you eval­u­ate that were exclu­sive to InDesign? Object Styles (from CS2)? Seperations palette (from CS)? Simple pathfind­er func­tions (add, minus back, etc - from ID1 or ID2)? These are just a cou­ple exam­ples of VERY use­ful fea­tures I sore­ly miss when I’m forced to use Quark. A fair eval­u­a­tion would have includ­ed all of these. Giving us the scores you gave InDesign for these fea­tures (even if you can’t divulge Quark’s equiv­a­lent score) will give your eval­u­a­tion more cred­it. Your list should be more com­plete than just the three exam­ples I men­tioned.

  15. Jeff says:

    Actually, I called the VDP, JDF, and XML fea­tures unsexy but strong, refer­ring to the fact that, while amaz­ing­ly strong and much need­ed tech­nolo­gies, they’re not as sexy as trans­paren­cy or OpenType sup­port, which were the pre­vi­ous­ly divulged fea­tures.

    Sorry to have mis­quot­ed you. I just remem­bered the head­line (as the post had been a cou­ple weeks old, I believe). At any rate, the main point of my orig­i­nal post was to say that you were will­ing to give Quark cred­it when cred­it is due (which had­n’t been very often in the past).

  16. Mike says:

    Yes here are my rat­ings of quark 10 and inde­sign 6.123

    The over­all bpd23 I give 0
    the red to orange ratio in quark is 5
    but inde­sign is 200
    the pic­ture box I give a 100 to quark
    and a 70 to inde­sign.
    This is how relevent this whole top­ic is. And Im sor­ry to hear your bound samuel, there are some lax­i­tives that can help that.

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