So you thought you might like to go to the show? If so, you discovered that the best thing about trade shows like Ipex, Drupa, Print, and Graph Expo isn't necessarily checking out new products and technologies - although that helps. Instead, these shows are forums for the original social networking. While Twitter and LinkedIn are nice (at times), nothing beats hanging out in the press lounge (or what passes for one), or the show floor, or after-hours events, chatting about the industry, the things on the show floor, and gaining a variety of new perspectives and information.
A variety of those perspectives will start appearing on WhatTheyThink in the weeks and months ahead.
As part of our extensive Ipex coverage (Frank Romano and Andy Tribute have been chronicling more of the nuts-and-bolts announcements), WhayTheyThink's ace videographer and myself wrangled representatives (writers, editors, printers, and other attendees) of countries from around the world to talk about the state of the printing industry in those nations, get some idea of what the prevailing trends are, what drivers and barriers to printing industry growth exist, and if the digital vs. offset debate is one that is peculiarly American, or if the same things are happening elsewhere.
I think you'll find some of the interviews fascinating - in some cases, not so surprising, but in many very startling indeed. While it's true that we're talking to a pretty self-selected sample, all evidence points to rumor's of print's death being greatly exaggerated, to coin a phrase. Almost everyone we talked to were bullish on the growth of their own print markets, some places more than others. In India, for example, as the economy grows and as literacy grows, the need for educational materials grows correspondingly, which is stimulating a great demand for print. (In fact, such has been the growth in India that, according to a couple of our interviewees, they barely detected the global recession.) Speaking of the recession, while most places that felt the recession also saw print volume decline (along with a great many other things), some countries didn't feel the recession as strongly, for a variety of local reasons. For example, one interviewee from South Africa largely attributed their own avoidance of a great deal of recessionary pain to "discipline in our banking system." Zing!
Exports are also a very large component of print industry growth. In China, obviously, a lot of print is produced for export, but also in European Union countries, print tends to be exported and imported throughout the EU.
Elsewhere in Asia, our Japanese interviewees spoke about the growth of cross media and multichannel marketing, and especially the wide use of Quick Response (QR) codes. (On the show floor, more and more booths were availing themselves of QR codes, too.)
And so, we come to the end of another Ipex, which was an encouraging sign for the state of the international printing industry going forward - and the consensus was that this year's show was a dry run for Drupa 2012, which hopefully will build on the momentum building thus far as the world gradually sloughs off the last remnants of the global recession.