It's No Gold Rush
Contract-quality color proofing without proofs. Magazine covers personalized for every reader. Advertising inserts that fold up like origami and become collectors' items. News flashes broadcasting on cell phones. There's no question about it: Times … they are a-changing.
For those of us dealing with print media, and now its electronic counterparts, this means getting a daily education. What new technologies are out for proofing? For workflow? For easy conversion to a repurposable format? How will they work with our current systems? How difficult will they be for staff to adapt to, and how much additional time is required for implementation?
It's no wonder change often starts out at a snail's pace, and gathers about enough momentum by the end to catch up to, maybe, a turtle. Think about how long it has taken the industry to move to CTP. (Or, maybe that was fast compared to some other things.)
Change is scary. It can be complex. It also usually saves a lot of time and money, or it wouldn't even be up for discussion. And companies like Leo Burnett and Time Inc. wouldn't be leading the way across the new frontier. But they are.
These two companies, in particular, helped beta test the development of Kodak Polychrome Graphic's MatchPrint Virtual monitor-proofing device and are now advocating its use industry-wide (see page 18). With monoliths like Leo Burnett and Time supporting the changeover to monitor proofing, it's tough to grasp the fact that there is some concern about the industry's willingness to adopt this new technology. But change is scary.
Another new frontier emerging before our very eyes is that of variable data publishing. Its introduction to the market was met with eager anticipation—direct mailers saddled up at the first call and headed out to drop their flags. But the magazine and catalog publishing fields faced this new frontier with some well-reasoned skepticism.
Catalogers are beginning to explore now, though, and have already proven some viable uses for variable data publishing in varying products by segmented consumer/buyer groups (such as age, income, lifestyle, geography). And, one by one, magazine publishers are inching forward, securing their footing on the unfamiliar terrain—well, at least to get a closer view of what's ahead.
In this issue, National Relocation and Real Estate magazine tells about its journey in variable data publishing (page 22). And despite the complexity of the effort, those involved pulled it off without a major hitch, perhaps clearing a path for the next pioneers.
Is it likely that variable data publishing will ever be a major draw for the magazine field? Let's pose that question another way: Did you ever think your direct mail would be personalized?
- Noelle Skodzinski