8th Annual PrintMedia Expo Explores the Workflow of the Future
A little snow didn't stop them. Several inches fell on the streets of Manhattan, where the eighth annual PrintMedia Conference & Expo was held March 15-17. And, still, publishing executives made the trek from as far as Germany, and exhibitors hailed from every corner of the United States, Canada and even India.
On two floors of exhibit space at the Hilton New York, more than 130 top companies showcased everything from prepress solutions to new printing technologies, innovative paper products, CD and DVD manufacturing and packaging, and workflow management solutions. Many new products targeted the publisher seeking to move into a cross-media platform with XML-based solutions and data-conversion applications.
Industry experts presented 30-some how-to sessions to conference attendees on a variety of topics, including the newest developments in digital printing, avoiding production pitfalls, color proofing, and many other topics geared at helping the publishing professional be more efficient, improve production and keep pace with a constantly changing industry.
One highlight of the show for many was the "Digital Realities Tour," a joint effort between Digital Distribution of Advertising for Publications (DDAP) and Specifications for Web Offset Publications (SWOP). The tour included a step-by-step exploration of the PDF/X workflow process and its benefits, from writing and editing to preflighting and color proofing. Presenters like Erik Cullins, associate director of digital development at Time Inc., talked about their migration to PDF/X-1a, Job Definition Format (JDF) standards, and the effect of both on production workflows. A 'Hands-on!' area of the "Digital Realities Tour" enabled attendees to track a digital ad from design stages to print.
Two Glimpses into the Future
While publishers soaked up information about new products and technological advances in printing from exhibitors and sessions, they also gained some insightful perspectives on the publishing industry from two of the most well-known names in the field today: Patricia Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, and John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc.
On the first day of the conference, attendees gathered before lunch in the expansive Sutton Parlor to hear Schroeder address "The Future of Publishing." "We've survived," said Schroeder of the dot-com era and the promised demise of print media, as well as the increasingly hectic pace of today's culture.
But the rest of her speech focused on the challenges still ahead. "The bottom line is we are still trying to sell a print medium to a country where, if you aren't born with Attention Deficit Disorder, we'll teach it to you …" Schroeder urged attendees to act as advocates for the print medium in any way they can.
Merriam-Webster's John Morse kick-started day two of the conference with his keynote address, "Cross-Media Publishing: Achieving the Promise." Morse talked about our "data-centric culture," its inclination to rely on multiple mediums to obtain that data, and its significance to the entire print industry. "When we started planning the 11th edition [of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary], we asked ourselves, 'What is the dictionary of the future going to look like, and can we start creating it right now?' The answer we came up with is that the dictionary of the future is not a thing, not a particular technology, not a particular medium … The dictionary of the future is access," said Morse.
For this reason, Merriam-Webster, whose dictionary, Morse says, is the second best-selling hardcover book in American publishing next to the Bible, now publishes in five formats: book, CD-ROM, Web, downloads for PDAs and as dedicated, hand-held devices.
"We are convinced that people don't just want … print. They don't just want Web access either." Rather, Morse's message portrayed the contemporary public's desire for immediate access in whichever format is most convenient at the moment: a hand-held device on the train, the Web at the office, and the print dictionary at home, for example.
The publisher of the 106-year-old dictionary also echoed Schroeder's message, imploring attendees to advocate for the publishing industry. But he also suggested Schroeder's plea to attendees—to sing the praises of print—be expanded to: "Sing the praises of all the media in which we publish."
For information on the 2005 PrintMedia Conference & Expo, March 7-9, visit www.PrintMediaExpo.com.
- Noelle Skodzinski