We heard from Regis Delmontagne in response to a post about the impact of the drupa decision on the timing and planning of U.S. printing trade shows operated by the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC). Delmontagne was president of the National Printing and Equipment Association (NPES), as it was called during his tenure, from 1976 to 2005. He also was president of GASC in the years when the Print and Graph Expo shows reached their peaks of attendance and exhibitor participation.

Delmontagne also is an expert on international trade and an educator who has taught at universities in Russia, Ukraine, and China. Here is his take on the outlook for the GASC shows along with some thoughts on printing’s standing as an academic discipline:

“I just read your article about the drupa change and its possible effect on U.S. trade shows. You note that ‘This year’s Graph Expo, for example, is being co-located with events from other industries in hope of driving a convergence of interest in printing and packaging among them.’ I believe that the only ‘co-location’ is due to the fact that the FPSA and GASC shows were scheduled many years ago by McCormick Place rather than either GASC or FPSA. The fact that they are again, ‘co-located’ is their respective show dates overlap by 2 days. I don't believe that qualifies as a ‘co-located’ event.

“Process Expo is basically an exhibition for the food processing industry displaying technology from companies which sell processing equipment. It is essentially not related to packaging nor printing. If any shows should be co-located it would be Process Expo with Pack Expo. Both are held in Chicago (Pack Expo West is held in Las Vegas the off year), both serve similar audiences and while attendees at these shows have some interest in the printing of labels or containers, that is not the main reason for their attending them. I would guess in the future the packaging and process shows will be either co-located or combined rather than either closely aligning with the printing industry.

“While I won't forecast the future of either GASC shows or the Miami show, basically the only printing shows left, there’s no question that both will face an ongoing situation with a declining print market in the U.S. The smaller the market for printed products spells no growth for the shows not only here but in Europe as well. The only growth markets for print and its trade shows are in Asia where print is rapidly growing and the shows reflect that vitality.

“I just concluded my annual 2-3 month teaching program in Wuhan, China and I can testify to its growth and the magnitude of the trade shows in the printing industry. Unfortunately, the handwriting of print's growth there is written on the faces of the millions of students who avoid print in favor of the electronic media. Even my printing students almost unanimously agreed that ‘there’s no need to read scores in the paper’ when we have immediate access to the Internet. I think the Chinese will follow the same path in collecting information as Americans and Europeans have done for the past decade or so.

“Since beginning my teaching program over the past 10 years I have seen the printed product decline while the electronic media is making inroads by leaps and bounds. There's no stopping this. I saw the same movement while teaching in Russia and Ukraine. While I strongly stressed the role of print in functional printing such as wallpaper, swimming pool liners, keyboards, etc., it had virtually no effect on their mindset.

“So what is the future? I won't predict, but as one technology shrinks in usage another one will take its place.”