The Reprint Evolution
The increased prominence of digital content has opened new doors for reprints services. However, questions of how to manage, price and sell these new forms of content delivery arise for those offering reprints.
In fact, the concept of what the reprint industry is today is much different than it was just a year or two ago, says Michelle Wolfe, vice president of sales and marketing for FosteReprints, a veteran business that offers a wide-array of reprint services in-house, including printing and digital e-print creation. The technology to create e-prints, digital files containing the magazine or Web site content has been in existence for several years, Wolfe says, but the recent demand has created the need to brainstorm ways to sell multimedia offerings.
“To survive and to grow, and to be innovative, you have to think differently,” she says. “As a printer, I’ve had to come up with a lot of creative ideas [for] new packages. E-prints have increased tremendously.”
According to Wolfe, 25 percent of the company’s business came from e-prints—mainly in PDF format or a package featuring e-prints—at the end of 2006.
“I don’t really try to refer to this as reprints, but as reuse of content,” she says.
Wolfe says FosteReprints’ roster of publishing customers and their audiences have taken to purchasing digital reproductions of content found in print or online to repurpose, but often still purchase the hardcopy products with it.
By creating deals for those who will buy both print and digital, the company keeps their print sales active, she says, while providing the incentive for those who have not previously purchased a digital reprint to do so.
GETTING THE CONTENT OUT THERE
“I think the short answer is that [the reprint industry] has to be changing,” says Brian Kolb, a sales manager with Wright’s Reprints. “We’re always having to be innovative in our approach of what the client or end user is looking for.”
As recently as three or four years ago, the reprint business was an order-taking business, Kolb reminisces. Today, however, the sales team has to be more proactive, he says.
“We have to be more probing in terms of [determining] what is the need, what is the intended use,” he says. “It’s about trying to get the publishers name and content out there.”
Even though print reprints are still the “bread and butter” in terms of sales for many companies, a variety of new options are now available to potential customers. With digital reprints starting to take center stage, determining a prime price for e-prints and what restrictions should be on usage is also something that has to be worked out.
Managing the permission-end of content usage is becoming a much larger part of the reprint-services job description. With the ability to be reproduced in digital form, content has the ability to be distributed to a much larger audience when it’s posted on a Web site or e-mailed, whereas print quantities are finite. Reprint professionals now need to create ways to offer and manage the digital reprint content. Reprint services are moving away from the unlocked PDFs of the past, and are now switching to licensing deals, that restrict the amount of times a PDF can be posted, distributed and copied.
Kolb says he will work with a customer to figure out what exactly the intended use of a digital reprint will be, what will be contained in the PDF, and on how many URLs the content will appear. The option exists to pay for domain-wide use for a company.
The price varies from title to title, but could start as little as $500 and range up to $6,000, according to Kolb.
“The main variable is the end use—what’s the end user trying to bring in, in terms of revenue,” he says.
He says the company is aware of the use of the material and that sites are policed frequently to make sure the licensing agreement that is signed, has been upheld.
Kolb explains that an e-print can be sold as a standalone—usually at a cost of between $1,100 and $1,400 for Wright’s customers for a one-time-use PDF and then, for an additional fee, it can be “unlocked.” The reprint can then either be printed at a per-print cost, or a flat rate can be paid for a specified number of print reprints. He says that even though the cost per unlocked print could be as little as 8 cents, the opportunity comes in selling a flat-rate licensing for printing a reprint up to a few hundred at a time.
“It’s important for publishers to realize that their content has value,” Kolb says. “This is evident in the fact that the advertisers want to use it. If it weren’t valuable, why would they repurpose content in the form of reprints or post it to their Web site? Publishers also should realize [the] need to be flexible.”
Michael Biggerstaff, president of Reprint Management Service (RMS), says reprint companies have to be constantly monitoring prices and their effectiveness in each market they serve, but that in the end, pricing is much less a factor in reprint purchases now than it ever was.
“You must remember that reprints are not a commodity and aren’t driven by the movements of pricing,” Biggerstaff says. “If you reduce reprint prices 25 percent [hoping] to get a 40 percent bump in sales, it won’t happen. People don’t buy reprints because of their price. They buy them based on their need for the product and their belief that it will help them advance a marketing or sales effort,” he says. “Just as some magazines charge $5,000 for an ad and others charge $20,000 for an ad, they are driven by the quality of the brand and what it is worth to the buyer.”
KEEPING AHEAD OF THE CURVE
For publishers looking for some outside assistance with their reprints sales efforts, Dan Fineberg, director of marketing for RMS, says that price also is not the all-encompassing determining factor in what third-party reprint service to go with. The race to offer customers something different has heated up, and reprints services companies strive to stand out.
“Who’s more innovative? Who’s going to protect [content] more? We have to ask ourselves what separates us, and we have to continuously educate publishers of what customers want,” he says.
Fineberg says offering a “reprint this story” link directly on online stories has offered RMS’ clients an automated process for customers to order a reprint.
Despite the help this direct link provides, reprint sales reps spend just as much time now sifting through original content online as they once did reading through the print edition of magazines. Fineberg suggests having sales reps subscribe to Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds to have new content delivered right to them.
“Unless you have the system in place to sift through everything, you’re going to be missing content and contacts and opportunities,” he says.
And at the end of the day, Fineberg says, preparing for the coming changes now will help. “Original content is shifting to the Web,” he says. “Reprint vendors need to get onboard with that.” PE