Q&A With David Briggs, VP of Sales & Marketing at Lane Press
The December Issue Publishing Executive featured the re-launch of the Top 20 Magazine Printers, a ranking that lists the largest printers in the U.S. and Canada by revenue. To accompany that ranking, we interviewed top printing executives to find out how the printing industry has changed and the issues they think publishers should be most mindful of in the future. Printing experts shared insights on custom publishing, automated workflows, and the importance of high-quality print content. The Q&As we published in the December issue were just snapshots, but following you'll find the full-length interview with David Briggs, vice president of sales & marketing at Lane Press.
What should publishers be thinking about when it comes to printing in 2015 and beyond?
Increasing the engagement of their audience with the content they produce. Readers today are very savvy and will only spend time with content that's creating value for them. Publishers need to figure out what value is for their particular audience and then give it to them. More often than not, this means producing great editorial and a magazine with high production values. Publishers should be thinking about how to achieve that.
Are you seeing customers doing more things to make their publications special or customized, or are they mostly just trying to produce their products as inexpensively as possible?
My perspective on this question is, of course, biased by our customer base. We see customers redesigning their books to a larger trim, using better paper stocks, and bringing back original photography.
How do the services you offer to publishers differ from what you were doing five years ago?
We offer a wider range of services, especially in the digital arena. We do this through select, third-party providers who share our value system and our commitment to quality and service. And because we're not taking our eye off the ball to deliver these best-of-breed solutions to our customers, we can keep our primary focus where it needs to be: on providing the best prepress and printing possible and the distribution to get our customers' product where it needs to go as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
Are you having to educate customers about printing and distribution more than you used to?
We've always worked with that segment of the market that understands publishing and creating content very well, but how print works less well. So we've developed a discipline around educating our customers as we work with them. For example, we've published a 40-page production kit that's available to our customers in print and as a digital edition.
What do you think will happen to the U.S. Postal Service? How viable will it be as a means of distributing publications?
This is like predicting the weather one month from now. Having said that, the USPS is aggressively moving into the parcel business in an attempt to secure a stronger position in that market. They appear to be having some success with this. In fact, we are looking to use the USPS for certain bulk distribution needs. The USPS has steadily worked on reducing their cost structure. If they can grow this market without adding significant fixed costs, this would reduce the pressure for price increases in flat and letter mail. We see this as a path to the USPS remaining a viable means of distributing publications. Also, it can't be overlooked that no one delivers "the last mile" better than the USPS.
How are you working with publishers to help them save money, increase efficiencies, and drive revenue?
We work with our publishers to help them find ways to drive revenue. And this can be very different from one customer to the next. For some, it's that discussion around finding creative ways to boost production values and editorial quality; for others, it's about looking at more advanced opportunities, like custom publishing, advertising gimmicks, special issues, or versions. It's never a one-size-fits-all solution.