U.S. Postal Service
The mainstream press has had its fill of articles recapping 2013, but it missed some important trends and lessons that emerged during the year:
1) New hope for newspapers: The Denver Post has hit upon a promising market for beaten-down daily newspapers: weed. When publishers from other states see how the Post is trying to cash in on legal pot with its new web site The Cannabist, they may be tempted to start publishing a lot of pro-legalization editorials.
Magazine publishers and direct mail marketers got a lump of coal in their stockings over the holidays, with the Postal Regulatory Commission's decision to approve an "exigent rate increase" on postage for First Class Mail and Standard Mail, which includes magazines, catalogues, and direct mailings. In response to a request from the USPS board of governors, the PRC voted 2-to-1 to approve a 4.3% increase in Standard Mail rates, which works out to 5.9% when the customary inflation adjustment is included, effectiveJanuary 26.
A postal official made a revealing statement last week about the U.S. Postal Service's attempt to get higher-than-inflation rate increases. If USPS's "financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy," Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman wrote last week in a Post & Parcel letter to the editor. The request for "exigent" rate increases - on which a ruling is due Monday --was "a last resort," according to USPS's #2 man.
Web publishers launching print magazines, e-book sales plateauing, slow adoption of tablet magazines, and now a profitable U.S. Postal Service: Whatever happened to the death of print?
I recall a magazine editor parading around the office in 2009 and announcing, "Print is dead." Sure, I recognized it as the exaggeration of a middle-aged journalist trying desperately to prove he was hip to the digital age.
In Esquire's approximately 286 page October issue, I read a quote from Arthur Miller that reminded me of the publishing industry in general, and of my experience at thePrint & Interactive Media Executive Conference (PRIMEX) last week. "Fear, like love, is difficult to explain after it has subsided, probably because it draws away the veils of illusion as it disappears." Indeed, the print industry has had the fears, misconceptions and its illusions drawn away as we move forward and adjust our business plans to 21stcentury communication.
Five years and 601 articles ago today, a magazine-publishing veteran took on the identity of D. Eadward Tree and launched the Dead Tree Editionblog. Rarely has the blog focused on Mr. Tree himself, under the assumption that the 700,000-plus unique visitors (some more unique than others) who have visited over the years were looking mostly for advice, insight, or maybe even entertainment.
Let's be honest: Given the U.S. Postal Service's dire financial condition, the 4.3% emergency rate increases it announced yesterday are hardly exorbitant. That won't prevent the move from being a disaster for the nation's mail system.
I have little doubt that some Congressman will blast the USPS Board of Governors for putting forth relatively small "exigent" (greater-than-inflation) price increases. But the micro-managers on Capitol Hill, who should be focused on getting their own house in order, need to understand why the governors aren't pushing for more.
WASECA, MN -Brown Printing Company's Erv Drewek was assigned the prestigious Postmaster Generals' Mailer's Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) Vice-Chair position on August 28th, 2013. The MTAC Vice-Chair is a member of the MTAC Executive Committee. As the Vice-Chair, Drewek, along with other committee members, will oversee the activities of the Leadership Committee, gathering information on how to enhance the value of mail-related products and services.
Mailing-industry leaders fear that the U.S. Postal Service is on the verge of requesting emergency rate increases of up to 10%.
The U.S. Postal Service is apparently backing away from an attempt to use one-time payments to mailers as justification for permanent price increases. As Dead Tree Edition reported last month, USPS proposed to offer large mailers a one-time “Technology Credit” and then to have those credits considered a price decrease for purposes of calculating its inflation-based rate cap. That would result in permanent price increases that would eventually cost mailers far more than the maximum $5,000 credit per mailer.
USPS clarified – or changed – its position this week in response to questions from PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway: