Most magazine and commercial printers are entering 2011 cautiously optimistic after an improved Q3 and Q 4. The Publishers Information Bureau reports that the publishing industry experienced a 5.3% growth in ad revenue over the same period in 2009. Ad pages also grew 3.6% over the same time period.
Many printers have experience a healthy fourth quarter with plants at full capacity. This is traditionally the busiest time of the year with catalogs, annual titles and publishers rushing to get titles out by the end of December. As a result, printers are seeing some stabilization in pricing.
Commercial printers continue to find more ways to increase efficiency with reduced labor. They are investing in new equipment that will produce a lower cost per impression. Most capital investment is going towards the purchase of high speed digital presses. Purchasing decisions are based on a thorough assessment of longevity of the equipment against the investment.
What does this mean to publishers?
This is still a good time to go out for bid if you have not done so since 2007. Prices are considerably lower than they were three years ago and that will yield impressive savings to your bottom line. It is doubtful that prices will go any lower; this is the right time to start a contract renewal discussion or a printer selection. Printers will also focus on offering publishers value added services including:
• Competitive pricing digital magazines
• Development and production of Smartphone and iPad applications
• PURLs and personalization of direct mail
• 2D barcodes
The start of the new year is an excellent time to set up a meeting with your print sales representative to discuss pricing and value added services. Let your printer know about your business plans for growth and new initiatives throughout the association. This will give them the perfect opportunity to strengthen their partnership with you.
Joanne Harap is the president of Production Matters, a consulting firm that provides evaluation, management and problem-solving services related to publications production and printing. She specializes in producing cost-efficient and cost-effective association publications. Joanne is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University, teaching production management for the College of Professional Studies Master’s in Publishing program.