The Printer's Promise: We've Changed
The story for printers in 2011 has been one of diversification. A desire to meet shifting publishing needs has led printers to embrace new facets of production and manufacturing—even in some cases moving into the design, marketing, editorial and financial services spheres, all in an effort to gain new expertise and leverage existing capabilities in new ways.
There are challenges aplenty, with an economic recovery struggling to gain traction and new competition from digital service providers and overseas markets. Yet those same factors also offer opportunities:
- for growth and return on investment (ROI) in an improving business climate for printers making the right strategic moves now;
- for an expanding market in digital and premedia services and business process management for those companies moving into those spheres; and
- for new business in emerging economies. (RR Donnelley recently reported an 11-percent increase in international sales from increased volume in Asia, Europe and Latin America, for instance.)
For Publishing Executive's annual look at the state of the printing industry, it got the inside scoop from several printers on their views of the marketplace and its future. Included in this year's printing-industry report are:
- Joan Davidson, group president, The Sheridan Group
- David O’Donley, vice president of sales and marketing, The Ovid Bell Press
- Eric Roberts, director of sales, Bartash Printing
What are the most important changes you've observed in the industry during the past year?
Davidson: The rapid shift in interest from digital editions to mobile platforms and the quest to monetize these new media.
O'Donley: Competition in the marketplace and price sensitivity have remained high this past year. As more printers continue to close their plants, there is an overall pricing war going on in the market to compete for that business.
Roberts: The industry has actually changed to a back-to-basics philosophy. There are not so many big ideas that reflect true consumerist spirit, but rather publishers are building books by selling ads, one at a time. More than ever, it's about beating the streets, shaking hands and making deals. Since 2008 or so, every publisher complained about the economy like they way people complain about the weather. In the past 12 months, though, I have encountered publishers feeling more empowered about being successful regardless of the economy, and that is a relief.