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Rand McNally gets into the custom map biz

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Nick Springer

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Rand McNally is now offering wall size custom street maps of any where you choose in the U.S.

Since there are already a number of folks out there who do this (MarketMaps.com and MapSales.com), I have always passed on requests to do these kinds of maps myself, but I can't help but thinking this may be a interesting precedent for all of us custom cartographers.

I have to admit that their online tool is pretty good (although a bit slow). Try going through the whole process of customization and they will even show you a very large preview of the finished map.

I'll be curious to see where this goes.

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Hans van der Maarel

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With the availability and pricing of data in the US, I guess it's pretty easy to set up something like this. Unfortunately, the data over here is rather expensive, making map production for small numbers of prints not commercially interesting.
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Erin John LeFevre

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Overal it is a bit slow in loading, but it's well worth the wait and would not stop me from buying. I wish the title they let you assign to the map would show up in the map preview. It would also be great if they gave you selection of images to choose from that could be incorporated into the design, as well as a selection of layouts. I'm sure those are options will be available in the future. 100% custom on the fly maps. erin




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I'd like to add my 2 cents in on this one. Since, not only is Rand McNally my former employer, but this was exactly my job there!!

Rand McNally purchased Thomas Bros Maps in 1999, and since, Rand McNally has attempted to combine the techniques and markets of the Rand McNally Street Finder, and the Thomas Bros. Thomas Guide into a hybrid called the "Rand McNally Street Guide"
Thomas Bros. has been making custom maps for its west coast markets for decades. (In fact for a year, I was the lead for all customized maps coming from Thomas Bros.) Thomas Bros had this process down so well, I worked probably 2 hours a day on customized maps, and could receive, print, QC and Ship every request we got. (The rest of my time working on Rand's Street Guides.)
Now Rand McNally has finally caught up.
When I left Rand last June, the idea for the new custom maps would be that it would only be available within the limits of the new Street Guides (Major urban areas only.) If it is true as you say that they are available anywhere in the US, I would not trust anything outside of an urban area. Rand gets their data from Navteq, and we spent a lot of time and effort cleaning it up for the Street Guides. For the inter-city areas, it would be just pure Navteq data probably auto-annotated with Maplex. Not very good.

Basically, what used to be my job is now outsourced to Kinkos. Kinkos is now responsible for the printing of the maps, and instead of shipping, the customer picks it up themselves, and instead of QC...well, there is no Quality Check.
It's virtually no overhead for Rand McNally. (Not that they were paying me much anyway.) :-)


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