With no government bailout in sight to rescue their ailing industries, more than 1,200 magazine- and book-publishing executives convened at the 2009 Publishing Business Conference & Expo in New York City, March 23-25, in search of strategies to help them weather the worsening storm. And while much of the discussion centered around cost-cutting, the topic of innovation took center stage throughout the event, which featured nearly 60 educational sessions and more than 125 speakers.
Last week, my wife and I canceled home delivery of The New York Times, which was one of the first things we ordered when we moved into our North Jersey home 24 years ago. It’s not the end of the world. We’re not sentimental about it. It was more like an item on a list we had wanted to check off for some time.
It’s no scoop, but the big story on the printing industry this year has been the recession, which delivered a body blow to an already reeling magazine marketplace. The precipitous decline in ad revenue, and therefore pages, has obviously hit the industry hard—but not unaware. Plans to work with magazine publishers to retool business models proceed apace, with increasing emphasis on efficiencies in traditional manufacturing and distribution even as printers move to become full-service content management solutions providers.
When you believe strongly in an idea, you can usually find a way to make it happen. This was one of the messages conveyed at the 3rd Annual SustainPrint Awards Dinner, held March 23 during the Publishing Business Conference & Expo, where publishers were recognized for significant achievements in “green” publishing.
As I crisscross the country in these difficult times delivering lectures on the future of publishing, I not only talk, but I listen very carefully. I listen to the fears, the bravado, the good ideas and the ever-so-slightly out-of-kilter unusuals. These would be creative members of our publishing brotherhood who have ideas from the fringe, new concepts for old business models.
David Granger is impatient. But you would never know it by looking at him. Standing in front of the plate glass windows in his office, suited to perfection in black Armani, the editor-in-chief of the famed Esquire magazine is the very picture of calm, unassuming confidence and contentedness. But make no mistake, the impatience is there, just below the surface. Evidence of it can be seen in Esquire’s pages, especially on its covers. As Granger puts it, it is a “general impatience with the way things are,” and it drives him to strive for things that have never been done before.
There is no question we are facing a difficult time. Magazine shutdowns, unmanageable debt, reorganizations and staff layoffs continue to fill headlines in many industry media. Besides the harsh bruising we are taking from the economy, the very environment in which we publish is changing before our eyes. The result, in most cases: fear. And the problem with fear is that it can paralyze you. If it doesn’t paralyze you, it can cause you to run away (flight) or act aggressively and make rash decisions (fight). In other words, it can significantly impact your chances for success.