It's been a tough year for printers, and Publishing Executive's annual "Top Magazine Printers" list (opposite page) 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).
Today's production department bears little resemblance to the analog world of film and FedEx of not so long ago. As digital and multimedia are layered on top of a print process that is undergoing rapid change, "doing more with less" has become a common refrain among production people—and in their case, it's far more than a tired cliche.
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.