The cult of Scientology can't keep the pulp science fiction and quack psychology of founder L. Ron Hubbard in print merely through sheer force of will. Instead, it's with a state-of-the-art production facility in Commerce, Calif. featuring the latest printers from Hewlett-Packard. The plant is owned by the church through a company called Bridge Publications, whose unique experience in modern print production was enough to land Blake Silber, vice president of production at Bridge, a seat on a discussion panel for print-production professionals sponsored by Hewlett-Packard scheduled for September 10th. How does HP help Bridge churn out thousands of copies of Dianetics and related books in multiple languages to use as gateway texts for indoctrination?Through fast prototyping made possible by HP's Indigo line of industrial printers. Thanks in part to the Indigo 5000, Bridge can print, bind, and shrink-wrap 22,090 copies of Scientology: A New Slant on Life in as little as a week. And as acolytes move up "the bridge to total freedom," they are required to buy further materials for study that, because of the increasingly elite membership, necessitate small runs. Thankfully, print-on-demand technology is here! When some sucker ponies up the five-figure sum necessary to pass through the "Wall of Fire" in order to become a level three "operating thetan," Bridge can whip up a copy of the Xenu myth in no time flat. And since all of the print production is done in-house, it allows leader David Miscavige and his disciples to keep a tight lock on potential leaks of "secrets" written in the embarrassingly bad prose of Hubbard. At the upcoming discussion, among the topics panelists address will be staffing and employee retention. There aren't a lot of press operators familiar with such cutting-edge technology. Luckily for Bridge, members of the church's paramilitary Sea Org — the true believers who often work as peons — have all signed contracts to serve for eternity. They couldn't jump ship for a rival printer or publisher if they wanted to — that old-time religion matched with the latest in HP's technology combine for a serious business advantage. There's no surprise that Scientology is run like a business. Making a profit was the reason why Hubbard came up with the religion in the first place. But here's what's really disturbing: Could HP be helping Scientology proselytize? The church has a history of recruiting members in business settings. If Silber talked about more than just print-on-demand technologies at his seminar, is should raise eyebrows among HP's many non-Scientology customers.
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