Printing Shipments: Summer’s Almost Gone

Printing shipments continued to rebound in July, coming in at $6.75 billion, up from June’s $6.63 billion. We remain hopeful, but as we have been seeing lately, we are far from out of the woods virus-wise and we may see shipments start to decline again come the fall.

Frank Goes Down Read-Only Memory Lane

The Museum of Printing gets tons of donations, and Frank shows some recent computer hardware equipment that the Museum recently acquired. There were three smaller-than-laptop computers and a host of plugs, cables, connectors, and converters to get you from SCSI to USB to even FireWire (if you need a cable, give him a call). A ZIP drive and even a CD-ROM unit were included.

Around the Web: Score Statistics. Great Graphene. Wearable Wary. Creative Carpet. Python PPE. Viva Venus? Ludwig Listening. LEGO Listens. Covered Cakes. Perishing Peeps. Depressing Decoration.

The NFL season begins—and so does Scorigami. New graphene-based apparel. Amazon enters the fitness wearables market. The Simpsons as classic works of art. Public Service Announcement: a live snake is not an acceptable face covering. Is there life on Venus? How Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony changed the way people listen to classical music. The New York Times and Facebook collaborate on AR reporting. Children’s letters inspire LEGO to rethink its packaging. 2020 news would bewilder a time traveler from...2019. A “cake shield” for blowing out birthday candles. A Santa-wearing-a-mask Christmas ornament to enhance seasonal depression. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly pre-apocalyptic miscellany.

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Smart Selling During COVID-19: Part 1

On a global scale, sales representatives are finding it impossible to sell the way they used to—face-to-face meetings are difficult, some prospects still haven’t returned to their offices, and businesses and consumers remain on high alert. This article, the first in a two-part series, highlights some sales best practices during a pandemic. The second will discuss sales pitfalls to avoid and provide strategies for addressing current and future challenges.

Speed x Sustainability = The Digital Imperative

One of the ways the textiles and apparel industry is starting to adjust to the stresses exposed by the pandemic is to accelerate adoption of digital technologies. But what is the appetite for change, really? Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares her insights.

Innovating the Proofing Cycle

Printers need to consider innovations that negate the need for proofs (hard or soft) except under exceptional circumstances. Hint: train the customer to submit print-ready PDFs that are truly ready to go. You will still need to do preflight, etc., but the emphasis should be on taking the time lag created by the proofing cycle out of the process.

Successful Print Software Implementation Mindset

Don’t have a mindset like a lighthouse. Have a mindset like a fast, nimble, ship with the most advanced navigation systems. When navigating the waters of the print manufacturing industry, stationary businesses will not survive.

The Day an Infectious Disease Expert Became a Trading Card Celebrity

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s trading card is the TOPPS Company’s best-selling card of all time—and a product of the ruthless efficiency of the company’s production workflow. What lessons are there for the rest of the industry?

A moment of levity. View Today's Dilbert Dilbert Cartoon Strip

Dilbert is brought to you by the hiring pros at PrintLink. PrintLink is the industry leader in Executive Search & Professional Placement.

Industry Data
Printing Shipments: Summer’s Almost Gone

Printing shipments continued to rebound in July, coming in at $6.75 billion, up from June’s $6.63 billion. We remain hopeful, but as we have been seeing lately, we are far from out of the woods virus-wise and we may see shipments start to decline again come the fall. Full Analysis

Outdoor Advertising—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 2,378 establishments in NAICS 54185 (Outdoor Advertising, although until 2012 this category was referred to as “Display Advertising”). Establishments dipped in the mid-2010s, but hit a new peak in 2018 at 2,765 establishments. In macroeconomic news: unemployment is down, but unemployment claims data paint a dark picture. Full Analysis

Retail Sales: A V-Shaped Recovery?

The Census Bureau recently released its monthly report on retail sales, and after a dramatic plummeting, July retail sales were $536.0 billion, up 1.2% from June (seasonally adjusted), and 2.7% above July 2019. But this may paint a rosier picture of retail than is warranted. Full Analysis

Printing Outlook 2020 - The WhatTheyThink Overview of the Current State of the Printing Industry

The Printing Outlook 2020 report provides detailed analysis of the latest WhatTheyThink Printing Industry Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2020 and beyond.

Updated April 28, 2020 to include a COVID-19 Survey that we conducted Late March/Early April 2020.

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Recent Discussion

HARVEY LEVENSON on Quad Donates $25,000 to MagLiteracy.org to Kickstart Creation of National Literacy Marketplace

Kudos to Quad! Literacy is a cornerstone of a democracy and free society, and recognized as far back as the Roman Empire. With the seemingly new reality in education with home teaching and learning likely to continue beyond COVID-19, the understan… Full comment Reply

John Galbraith on Frank’s Mysteries at the Print Museum: Print and the Pandemic

Thanks Frank, for the well-researched and fascinating tie-in of the Spanish Flu pandemic with Ludlow and the printing industry. This type (oh yeah) of very entertaining, historical commentary is welcome anytime. John Galbraith - retired Canadian pri… Full comment Reply

RYAN MCABEE on Can Online Ordering Save Print Service Providers in 2020?

@Ludovic, yes this particular data focused mostly on commercial printers and sign shops. I agree the availability, adoption, and use varies by printing segment. Interesting observation on the average order value as it could be a way to interpret what… Full comment Reply

Ludovic MARTIN on Can Online Ordering Save Print Service Providers in 2020?

Nice article, interesting study. It would have been interesting to get detailed data per market segments, I think the situation differs from packaging, labels or commercial printing. I think also that the gap between reduction of number of orders in … Full comment Reply

Robert Godwin on The Potential Impact of Brexit on the Printing Industry

I have been discussing this with my friends and colleagues in the UK. Last Thursday the responses ranged from: 1. The government must fund us while we develop new market relationships and, 2. We don't need to rely that heavily on a supply ch… Full comment Reply


WhatTheyThink Magazine is the resource for the Commercial Printing, Visual and Graphic Arts Industries. Industry experts share their ideas and technical knowledge on ways to improve operations.

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