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Industry Insight

It’s Thanksgiving and all will be well.


By Bob Sacks
Published: November 27, 2008

Yep, that is the fact and the truth in all the turmoil of the current economic crisis. Our industry is going through a rough season and some really choppy waters. What, did you think it would be clear sailing till retirement? Have Dr. Joe Webb show you the long-term charts. The pharaoh got the same message from the earlier Dr Joe, there will be years of feast and years of famine. That has always been the way of it. The important part to get from the pharaoh’s charts is that we will not perish, we will not fade away. What we will do is change, readjust our business plans and move on. Our industry is indispensable to the country, to the economy and to the public at large. Be you a printer, a publisher, or an author, there is room for growth and perhaps even prosperity.

For me, I'm a journalist, a grizzled veteran of the press room floor, a production director of major magazines, a seasoned observer and reporter of our industry – the media landscape is my beat. Today I give thanks for the experiences that I have had.

Today the publishing news is about contraction and the loss of published titles and jobs and a vibrant economy to grow in. The news continues to be sad and, to those directly affected, depressing. But we need to know what is happening and why. We need to understand that although many jobs are lost and others are under great stress, neither the printing community nor the publishing industry will perish. The economy, the industry, the country and the world will suck in its gut, exhale and move on. There is no greater truth than the fact that we will survive. We will change, we will apply old talents in new positions, we will learn new skills, but above all else we will eventually turn the tide, grow and, yes, even prosper after this period of contraction and reassessment.

How we get from here to there is the mystery. How long will the trauma continue? Neither I nor anyone else has the answer. But the fact that these troubled times will be behind us some day is an absolute. The earth will not stop turning, the economy will eventually grow, and people will always be in the need to know. They will satisfy that need by reading what authors, publishers and printers produce.

Should you be prepared for unexpected changes in our industry? Yes. Will there be a day when society won't need to store and distribute information in a multitude of ways? No. We are an essential and critical part of civilization, so we will prosper and perhaps help stimulate that prosperity by the very nature of what we do: educate, entertain and inform.

So, I end where I started – it’s Thanksgiving and all will be well. The country, the world, and our industry have gone through this before. In fact, there were many new magazines started in the last depression that are still around today. Did you know that the first issue of Fortune magazine was published in February of 1930, four months after the stock market crash of 1929?

I'll close with this thought -- the magazine industry, the printing industry, the advertising industry and the newly emerging digital information industry are not going to go away. All four will survive, get stronger and be better at what they do. Your job is to stay calm, stick around and be there as they do.


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