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Graph Expo 2012: A Horse of a Different Color

Graph Expo 2012 was quite a different show than previous years, for a lot of reasons that our Senior Editor, Cary Sherburne, discusses in this article.

By Cary Sherburne
Published: October 16, 2012


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Cary Sherburne is a well-known author, journalist and marketing consultant whose practice is focused on marketing communications strategies for the printing and publishing industries.

Cary Sherburne is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us.

Please offer your feedback to Cary. She can be reached at cary@whattheythink.com.



By Chuck Gehman on Oct 16, 2012

Good ground-level analysis Cary. I thought the show was upbeat and positive, but definitely "smaller". While Print13 will benefit from the absence of drupa, especially in the area of spending by vendors, the big thing the industry needs is new ideas.

There are a whole generation of conferences and "unconferences" that have emerged over the last few years that have greatly benefited those outside of our industry (and a few of our own.) Examples include TED and Barcamp, and many others. The printing industry would really benefit from a themed "Ideas Conference" (e.g., TED).

It would make sense for Executive Outlook might morph into such a thing. Although I couldn't make it this year, from what I heard from attendees, it and the "must-see-ems" continue to be cast from the same letterpress iron from which they came, albeit with some new cast members. Judging from the pictures I saw on the web, the attendance wasn't record breaking.

It seems like most of the networking opportunities at the show are "peripheral", in events run by Whattheythink, Infotrends, and the associations. Many of them are even offsite.

I don't see how anyone could argue that a transition from an almost exclusive focus on the show floor to a focus on new ideas and networking would not be good.

Finally, and I count myself among those who love the city of Chicago, but the McCormick place venue itself is no longer appropriate for the show. Not only is it too big, but only the show floor is front and center, everything else is miles away. A good contrast for this is Dscoop, where the "Partner Showcase" is important, but not the center of the universe.

As an industry, I am sure we can figure out how to maximize the value of this event so everyone-- customers and vendors-- look forward to it all year long.


By Eric Vessels on Oct 16, 2012

I think a TED type event for the industry is a most excellent idea. I also like the barcamp type conference having been to several. Maybe we (WTT) can help make that happen. I think our team would enjoy being involved in such a thing.


By Cary Sherburne on Oct 16, 2012

I knew I didn't catch everything on the show floor even tho it was smaller. I received a very nice email from Mark Pellman, Director of Sales and Marketing for BAUMFOLDER Corporation, who kindly pointed out that BAUM had two offset presses on the show floor, bringing the total to at least 4. Although new to the offset press manufacturing game, BAUM has obviously been part of our industry for a long time (95 years!), and is best known for its postpress and finishing solutions. Pellman points out that the BaumPrint 18 press is manufactured in the USA in Sidney OH. My apologies to BAUM, and I encourage our readers to take a look if they are seeking a small format offset press.


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