Says Who? Anonymous Dead Tree Edition Blogger Talks All Things Publishing
Magazine manager by day, self-proclaimed chief arborist of the Dead Tree Edition blog by night, this anonymous publishing executive is in tune with the latest happenings in the publishing world. From printing to paper to postage, the Dead Tree Edition is a regularly updated blog devoted to tackling the hot-button issues.
In an interview with Publishing Executive Inbox, “D. Eadward Tree” discusses a myriad of topics, including the future of the U.S. Postal Service, how publishers can better inform the public of the green benefits of print, tips on how to best manage paper costs and more.
INBOX: What are the top challenges facing publishers today? What can be done to overcome these challenges?
D. EADWARD TREE: For most, the biggest challenges are shrinking their cost structure to match lower revenue levels; shifting from a single-medium business model to a multimedia business model; and developing a more fluid and nimble organization. Significant cost reduction usually requires challenging assumptions about such key characteristics as rate base, frequency, timeliness and design. In the production and distribution realm, co-mailing, changing binding formats, using different sized presses and changing paper stocks have reduced costs without cutting quality, page counts or copy counts.
As for business models, again, publishers should challenge basic assumptions. For example, the audience for a brand’s Web site, books, logo licensing or custom publications may be different from the brand’s magazine. Web audiences are especially unpredictable. I’m amazed by how many Postal Service employees and how few catalogers read my blog. But regardless of the medium, audience or revenue source, publishers should remember that content is their lifeblood. Some whiz-bang technology might bring people to your site, but only relevant content will cause them to linger and return.
The organizational issues aren’t as obvious to publishers, but they’re real. In the traditional publishing organization, people work in silos according to their specialty—e.g., editorial, advertising, production—and rarely interact with other silos. With leaner organizations and more opportunities for new revenue sources, that won’t work any more. If advertising and editorial are enemies, if only marketers do marketing, if only IT people know search engine optimization, you’re doomed.