The Tunnel of Hard Times
Survey any magazine or catalog publisher about the business today, and one thing becomes clear: Print advertising will likely not return to the heights it saw five years ago.
Therefore, many production heads spent much of 2003 and the first half of 2004 strategizing how to cut costs and run their publications more efficiently. They also sought ways to redistribute content to generate new forms of revenue.
A major push in all of these directions has been in streamlining file submission from advertisers. In addition to aiming for simplified, error-free file submission to the printer, new methods simplify the process of editing and reviewing copy during production. The two file formats that have become standardized are the Portable Document Format (as in the Committee for Graphic Arts Technologies Standards' PDF/X-1a standard) and TIFF/IT.
Moving to a more flexible file format does more than improve in-house efficiency. It puts publishers in a better position to distribute their content in new ways. Since early last year, publishers have been looking into selling "premier editions" of database content, turning their print magazines and catalogs into e-zines, and partnering to share content through hyperlinks.
"These trends stem from a continual changing of the business model, and determining how you can [become] more efficient and timely with technology,' says Linda Carvalho, VP of advertising, business and production of BusinessWeek magazine. "With the competitive landscape, not only are there a lot more magazines out there, every medium has expanded … There are so many options for people to get information, you have to decide how and in what format you can make yours available, and decide which niches can make you money."
NEW STANDARDS RULE
Getting into more standardized formats, Carvalho says, is a trend magazine publishing is clearly moving toward.
It's not surprising that Time magazine converted to 100-percent PDF/X-1a file submission and no longer accepts any other file formats from advertisers. As the first newsmagazine to publish online 11 years ago, Time isn't one to waste time moving toward the future.