PUBLICATION PRINTING OUTLOOK --Challenging Issues
The major business opportunities are in the key constituents of the magazine industry (publishers, printers, paper suppliers, wholesalers, USPS, etc.) jointly developing solutions that drive the overall effectiveness of the medium as it relates to other forms of media.
"We all know that significant challenges exist for the magazine industry and we need to work together to find solutions to those challenges," Knotts asserts. Specific areas ripe for improvements include single-copy distribution, input standardization, supply chain integration and postal reform, he adds.
Craig Hutchison, president and CEO of Perry Judd's Inc. in Waterloo, WI, has a similar take on the market. "We have seen an incredibly focused approach to cost reduction on the part of publishers that is being driven by ad sales reductions—more in some content segments than others—and reduced newsstand sell-through percentages," Hutchison says.
The implications for publication printers are being felt in a number of areas, he claims. Examples include tougher contract price negotiations, greater pressure to reduce production waste and cutting distribution costs. These goals potentially can be achieved through the application of technology or by making changes in the printed product itself, such as reducing its size or switching to a lower substrate basis weight and/or quality, Hutchison explains.
"Printers, ourselves included, are taking proactive steps with their own technology and service offerings to benefit publishers," Hutchison says. "Digital prepress and distribution come to mind as two of the more important areas for us, including offering co-mailing and co-palletization capabilities, remote proofing and volume consolidation strategies that reduce cost and cycle times while improving delivery."
Looking at the big picture, Hutchison says the forecast is still a bit cloudy. There are a number of uncertainties lingering out there that may affect the near future for magazines. "For now, we are expecting rather slow, minor improvement in page counts for 2003, especially in the first half of the year. We expect to see an on-going shakeout in the total number of titles produced as publishers continue to shutter under-performing titles. Yet, new magazines will still be launched as niches are discovered and good magazines are developed to serve them."