Still Fit to Print
It's been a tough year for printers, and Publishing Executive's annual "Top Magazine Printers" list (at right, or download it here) is a stark indicator of how the recession has hurt the bottom line for companies regardless of size, region or market served. Only five of the 23 printers on this year's list report an increase in magazine printing revenue compared to last year (although that information was not available for six printers listed). Looking at total printing revenue from all sources (periodicals, catalogs, book manufacturing, newspapers, etc.), just three printers reported higher revenues this year compared to last (one was flat, and for three companies, no comparison information was available).
The dawn of a hoped-for post-recession era promises much ado about mobile apps and Twitter—but also predicted growth in print advertising. With Apple's iPad poised to bring the promise of truly integrated, multichannel publishing closer to reality, printers are ramping up efforts to offer multimedia packages to customers while keeping an eye on staying competitive in print. Alongside the uncertainties surrounding the impact of new e-readers, printers must still contend with the reality of increasing mailing costs and unstable ad revenues, two challenges which successful printers hope to meet in ways that continue to make them indispensable to publishers.
Perhaps the best summation of the position in which the industry finds itself can be found in Quad/Graphics' "print industry trends" statement for a March 5 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing: "… the emergence of alternative marketing technologies, such as online distribution and hosting of content and mobile technologies, on both a stand-alone basis and in conjunction with other marketing channels, has resulted in … traditional users of print and related services allocating their marketing and advertising spending across a wide and expanding selection of non-print electronic media options," the statement reads. "Quad/Graphics believes that advertisers and other traditional users of print find that they receive the greatest return on their marketing dollars when they effectively utilize data to target the appropriate customers and combine digital alternatives with customized print products in a targeted, multi-channel marketing campaign."