Time to Talk of Printing and Print Trade Magazines

The announcement that American Printer magazine was folding with the publication of its August issue—ending a 128-year run—frankly, did not come as a big surprise, despite the capable tutelage of Editor-in-Chief Katherine O’Brien. Coupled with the demise of another venerable publication, Graphic Arts Monthly, in April 2010, some blog posters are proclaiming that the business model of printing a monthly magazine geared toward the commercial printing and allied industries is a broken one.

But, I beg to differ, and not just because Printing Impressions is now the only remaining monthly printed publication serving this market segment. There is no black cloud hanging over our industry, casting a dark shadow on the ability to sustain a monthly trade publication.

American Printer’s demise was not the result of a dwindling commercial printing industry, but a lack of commitment by upper management to invest long-term in magazine titles that serve a mature industry in transition. As O’Brien wrote in her farewell blog post, “Penton, our parent company, stuck with us through some mighty lean months, but ultimately, there was no foreseeable model to achieve profitability.”

We believe there is still a business model and remain committed to the printing industry. Unlike highly leveraged publishing conglomerates, Printing Impressions is owned by North American Publishing Co. (NAPCO), a privately-held trade publishing business launched by Irvin Borowsky in 1958 with the debut of Printing Impressions. Over the years, NAPCO has grown and diversified, but remains focused on key markets. In addition to a leading presence in the consumer electronics field, NAPCO publishes In-Plant Graphics, packagePRINTING, Print Professional, Promo Marketing, Target Marketing, as well as several other titles serving the printing, publishing and direct marketing industries.

As such, the printing industry is truly in our company’s DNA—and the desire to serve and engage our readers is a long-term commitment. Just like everyone else, we have felt the severe recession and upheaval happening in America, and the printing industry especially, but we’re committed to evolve our products and services to change with our industry for what inevitably will be better days ahead.

We have made the shift to the immediacy of electronic delivery and social networking interactivity. These include mobile-friendly daily and weekly e-newsletters; a new site featuring numerous industry bloggers (www.PrintingsBestBlogs.com); an iPad app; the option to receive a digital version of the issue; and our primary Website (www.PIworld.com).

If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to sign up for both our FREE daily and weekly e-mail newsletters. They are quite different, so it’s well worth it to receive both. Visit www.PIworld.com to sign up for the newsletters, as well as the monthly magazine.

NAPCO is also investing heavily in brick-and-mortar and virtual events to serve our constituencies. The Publishing Business Conference & Expo, held annually at the New York City Marriott Hotel, continues to grow both in attendance and number of educational sessions. And, just last week, close to 5,000 people took part in our InterACT! Virtual Conference & Expo, which brought marketers, brand managers and print service providers together to learn more about the integration of print, online, mobile and social media.

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  • Mark Hunt

    Well said, Mark. You and the team have done a solid job keeping the magazines, online resources and events relevant, lively and useful. Sad as it is to see AP depart, we hope NAPCO will fill the the news and information vacuum left behind. The print industry needs reputable editorial content to help customers make intelligent, well-informed decisions.

  • sara young

    HI Mark, As publisher of PrintAction, Canada’s largest and only national graphic arts magazine that is published monthly, and coincidentally also a tabloid magazine like Printing Impressions, we applaud your open and enthusiastic embrace of today’s commercial printing industry. Our industry, both sides of the border is in an evolution. But changing times can be exciting, yes also painful, but the adaptation of technology in the modern media mix, proves that our industry is populated by savvy, smart, end users, your readers and PrintAction’s readers. All the best in your 30th year at NAPCO!

  • Ray Prince

    American Printer is alive.