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Sign Franchise Review 2021

In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Sign Franchise Review, we take a look at how the major sign franchises fared in the past year, how they managed the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they plan to make up lost ground in 2021.

Graphic Arts Teachers: The Printing Industry Can Do More to Help Keep the Talent Pipeline Alive

Following up on last week’s article on the current state of high school and trade school graphic arts programs, what can be done to keep the pipeline of new talent flowing into the printing industry? Has anyone asked the teachers of high school graphic arts programs on the front lines? Here is a selection of responses to a query about what can be done from their perspective...and they had a lot to say.

Inkjet Ink Estimating: Challenges and Work-Arounds

Estimating in any print business can be a challenge, but inkjet users face a level of variability that users of other print technology don’t. In this article, Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding and Alexandra Pekar look at the challenges of inkjet estimating and offer some solutions for overcoming those challenges.

Three Capabilities You Should Be Selling!

In competitive industries like print there are so many options for a print buyer that you can find yourself undercut, even if you believe you have a good customer relationship. To differentiate your company and offerings, think about your people, your processes, and your technologies. What makes you different? What can you offer that would be hard for your competitors to mimic?

How to Participate in Industry 4.0—Part 2: Internal Hardware Systems

In this new series we look at Industry 4.0—not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way so that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this second article in the series, we take a look at internal hardware systems.

Report from virtual.drupa 2021: Well-Attended Sessions, but Few Product Introductions

Drupa 2020 never happened, and drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well—but was transformed into a virtual drupa for 2021. European section editor Ralf Schlözer attended and provides an overview, some highlights, and overall impressions from virtual.drupa 2021.

Ziel Accelerates Growth of On-Demand Apparel Manufacturing

The best way to figure out how to deploy technology to accelerate adoption of emerging trends is to use it yourself in a real-life operation. That’s exactly what software and services company Ziel is doing. Learn how the company is leveraging its own on-demand apparel manufacturing platform to develop industry-changing solutions for those wishing to implement a sustainable, on-demand manufacturing model for their businesses.

How Accurate Is Your Job Pricing (And Can You Do Better?)

Having an accurate estimate is crucial for business success. Making mistakes—such as costing that is too high or too low—can have significant implications on the top and bottom lines. This article, sponsored by HP and written by HP Indigo's “Workflow Chef” Gershon Alon, explains the advantages of automatically collecting production data and using it to generate accurate estimates.

Around the Web: Alien Aviation. Selling Snoop. Additive Abode. Lab Lumber. Fashion Fission. ’Ammer Artist. Problematic Placement. Propitious Potable. Fish Feud. McGoohan Mania.

We flew a helicopter on Mars! Has the pandemic changed book publishing, part the infinity. Now being shown: a 3D-printed house. Could lab-grown wood be the future of furniture? “Could the solution to fashion pollution be…tiny nuclear reactors?” Turning plastic back into oil. An artist who “draws” portraits by smashing glass with a hammer. Digitally adding product placement to classic films. Alton Brown on the history of the gin and tonic. “The crime-ridden global market for eel.” The new number two on our wish list: action figures for the 1967 TV show The Prisoner. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.

Shipments: They Can Only Get Better from Here

We didn’t kick off 2021 very auspiciously, with January printing shipments coming in at $6.57 billion, down from December 2020’s $7.17 billion, and then a further drop in February to $6.34 billion.

Highlighting the Benefits of Office Printing

Office printing vendors are primarily focused on helping their customers save money and streamline processes—which certainly makes sense from the customer’s point of view—but some of their efforts inherently reduce the opportunities for printing. This article cites a recent New York Times article that explores the benefits of print-based learning.

How to Make Great People Decisions

By far, the best indicator of job success is the presence (or absence) of behavioral traits that match up with the traits of people who have exhibited strong success in the job in the past. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at an approach to making people decisions that has a high probability of success. That’s the goal in making people decisions: make the decision with the highest possible probability of success, both for the person and the company. Wayne shares some of his own experiences and gives examples of why this approach works.

Reshoring: A Wake-Up Call—Why Post-Pandemic Parallel Manufacturing Offers Supply Chain Stability

There has been increased focus on reshoring manufacturing from Asia to Europe and the Americas, perhaps accelerated by the recent Suez Canal debacle. But as many experts have pointed out, including those cited in this article, written by Guy Alroy of Early.Vision, the new jobs that result from reshoring efforts cannot be using the same processes. They must be a more technology based on-demand model that is more sustainable as well.

2021 Annual Print Shop Franchise Review

In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Print Shop Franchise Review, Cary Sherburne takes a look at how the major print franchises fared in the past year, how they managed the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they plan to make up lost ground in 2021.

Print MIS Data Integrity Matters

The integrity of your print business data is a foundational building block of your business. It impacts how fast you can move. Lack of data integrity is like an anchor your business has to drag around—it slows almost every aspect of your business down.

Insight into the Dwindling Workforce Development Pipeline: Graphic Arts Teachers’ Perspective

Jeff White, director of development for the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, solicited insight on the dwindling pipeline of skilled labor from the teachers of graphic arts programs at the high school level. The results reveal why printers can’t wait for someone else to fix the problem.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Top Challenges

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, recovering business lost to COVID and national economic conditions dominated printers’ top challenges—but traditional challenges will gain prominence post-COVID.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Spain

In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Spain.

virtual.drupa 2021: Networking Plaza Activated

Virtual.drupa takes place this week, and is utilizing a special “matchmaking” tool for attendees to connect with companies and contacts that are relevant to their businesses.

How to Participate in Industry 4.0—Part 1: State of Readiness

In this new series, we look at Industry 4.0. Not as a marketing term, but in an actionable way so that you can begin or continue to prepare your company and participate in the many benefits. In this first article of the series, we start at the beginning and look at the state of readiness.

Robert Stabler Shares Latest News from Koenig & Bauer Durst

Cary Sherburne talks to Robert Stabler about the latest digital packaging product introductions from Koenig & Bauer Durst, as well as some of the changes the pandemic has brought to the press placement process.

Remembering Chuck Geschke, Co-Founder of Adobe Systems

Frank Romano looks back at the life of Charles “Chuck” Geshke, co-founder of Adobe, who passed away last Friday.

The Color Challenge and How to Solve it

Color correction is a repetitive, time-consuming, and complex process. This article, sponsored by HP and written by HP Indigo's "Workflow Chef" Gershon Alon, explains how to optimize color correction, focusing on two aspects: automation and simplification.

Publishing Employees—2010–2018

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 907,152 employees in NAICS 511 (Publishing Industries—except Internet). By 2018, employees had increased to 1,015,946. In macro news, retail sales were up 9.8% in March.

Around the Web: Google Gutenberg. Bye-Bye-Broadband? Record Recollection. License Litigation. Quantum Quire. Paraboloid Pringles. Clever Cooling. Runaway Rabbit.

Google’s Gutenberg Doodle perpetuates a sartorial anachronism. 5G may let you ditch wired broadband. A deluxe, expensive collection of Philip K. Dick stories. Remembering the Columbia Record Club. The contentious free-speech history of license plates. Mind-blowing paper cutting and folding. The mathematics of Pringles chips. Alexa can now share songs. This summer, instead of A/C, try the Sensu Punkah. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s virtual miscellany.

Going for the Gold—How Rialto Designs Ltd. Is Reinventing Fashion Production in Leicester with Kornit Digital

Is Rialto’s growth a sign of the times? The UK-based digital textile printer thinks so. The company prints millions of meters of dye-sublimation prints onto polyester bases but is also investing in the future with technologies that can print digitally onto a wider array of fabric types.

If I Could, I Surely Would—What Would You Change About Your Job?

When asked what they would change about their job if they could, most salespeople cite speed—“I need to get quotes faster. I need to get answers faster. I need to get my jobs through the system faster.” WhatTheyThink contributor Dave Fellman explains why managing customer expectations is important to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on all aspects of the business.

Profit at the Margins with Variable-Data Printing

In this age of virtual everything, print means more—it is tangible and can be personalized to replicate that human connection we’ve been craving since the pandemic hit. This article explores how print service providers can better sell the value of variable data printing to businesses and brands.

Direct Mail Campaigns Bombing? Could the Phone or Website Be to Blame?

Do you have a client who seems to be doing everything right in its direct marketing campaigns, yet its metrics are not what they should be? Before the client pins the blame on you, they might want to check two potential culprits that lie between the campaigns and the sale: the website and the call center.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: 2021 Profits

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses expect a +8.1% increase in profits from 2020 to 2021.

Buying a New Print MIS is Not Your First Step

Replacing your Print MIS might be one of the most important projects you take on in the history of your business. Shopping is not the first step. Assessing your data and your processes is ideally done before you start interacting with software sales representatives.

Show Me the Money: Making Print Secure

Printing is a valuable and versatile platform that provides methods of communication, identification, even interaction. However, what happens when you need your printing secure or validated? David Zwang looks at today’s options.

European Printing Industry Employment

With 1.3 million employees in printing and papermaking in Europe, print and related industries are no small industry. This article looks at employment trends, revenue per employee, and offers an outlook on employment numbers.

Johnson’s World: Are You Impressed with My Press?—Buying a New Press Shouldn’t Be a Competition

Contrary to advertisements, no press is going to magically make you more money, but, wisely chosen, a new machine can be a useful tool on your carefully planned roadmap to increased profitability. Steve Johnson explains why you should stop looking at what equipment your competition has bought.

Executive Q&A: Kilian Renschler, CEO of Koenig & Bauer US/CA

WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer talks with Kilian Renschler, the new CEO and president of Koenig & Bauer US/CA. Previously, Renschler was executive vice president of sales of Koenig & Bauer US/CA.

Innovate Incessantly: From the Printing Press to a Streamlined Workflow, It’s All About Agility

The gap between early adopters and laggards continues to widen. Weighed down by the technical debt and disconnectedness of legacy systems, many print companies are investing precious capital and time in course-correcting their technology strategy. B2B customer expectations of user experience are increasingly blurred with the B2C ease of online shopping. Thus, the print service providers who can tightly align with emerging customer expectations will own the future. The answer to this growing problem is to establish a new agility within your operation.

ISA Sign Expo Virtual Aimed to Foster Real-Time Online Networking

Last week, ISA staged its Sign Expo 2021 Virtual, which succeded in replicating, perhaps as best as possible, the feel of being at a live event and networking with colleagues. Here is a quick rundown of the first day.

Can Measuring OEE Improve Your Productivity?

It seems like everyone is talking about “OEE” these days. This article, sponsored by HP and written by HP Indigo's "Workflow Chef" Gershon Alon, explains how OEE is a standard way to measure the “overall equipment effectiveness” of a manufacturing process—in this case, the printing process.

Profits: Back to the Tale of Two Cities

We’ve long been calling it “a tale of two cities”—large printers and small/mid-size printers and the profitability gap between them. The pandemic interrupted this ongoing narrative temporarily, but back in Q3 2020, we started to return to normal, at least in terms of industry profits trends, which continued into Q4.

Around the Web: Graphene Gear. Sweater Spectrum. Mad Memories. Mysterious Muons. Flipboard Fans. Vexing Vehicles. Hobby History. Restaurant Replicas. Poultry Pummeling. Ketchup Crisis.

Graphene-enhanced shoes and concrete—it’s a bad time to be a mob informant. Ralph Lauren aims to make cotton less water-intensive. A chart of every color cardigan worn by Mister Rogers. Soap products whose packaging is itself soap. A wall-mounted E Ink display for newspapers. A video history of Mad Magazine. A Fermilab particle experiment may completely upend our understanding of the universe. Install old-time train station flipboard signage in your home. The electric vehicle charging situation is a nightmare. A Brooklyn steakhouse partners with Madame Tussaud’s to help enforce social distancing. Can you cook a chicken by slapping it? The latest national crisis: a ketchup shortage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.

How Smart Finishing Can Enhance Value

To select the finishing method that best communicates the value of the content, you must first understand how the final product will be used and its audience. Print salespeople have the opportunity to expand the finishing conversation beyond product, technique, and price. Document finishing is a bit like the real estate market—"curb appeal,” first impressions, and attention to detail can communicate insurmountable value.

Five Sustainable Fibers and Innovations That Will Define the Future of Fashion’s Printed Textiles

COVID-19 has accelerated the sustainability agenda, and implementing these various initiatives across highly complex supply chains will take a great deal of dexterity and commitment—but there can be no going back. Read what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say about the emergence of more sustainable fibers for textiles.

Letterpress, Greeting Cards & Feminism—March 2021 M&A Activity

Paper Source files for bankruptcy, packaging segment is white hot, and more…

Printing 2021 Quick Look: 2020 Profits

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses reported a -9.1% decline in profits from 2019 to 2020.

It’s the Technology Laggards That Cost You the Most

Laggards are people in your company who have stopped learning and actually insist on doing their job in the same way they have been doing it, and for one reason: it’s the way they’ve been doing it. Investing in your laggards to drive software utilization is a good investment.

What Is “More Sophisticated” Personalization, Anyway?

Who’s Mailing What! recently released its report “18 Direct Mail Trends for 2021,” with predictions from leading industry experts about what they are seeing on the horizon for this year. First on WMW!’s list is “more sophisticated personalization.” But what, exactly, does “more sophisticated” mean?

Three Things to Know About the Workflow Behind Variable Content

Variable content can add value, streamline supply chains, and create engaging customer experiences, but it takes some work. There is more complexity to the creative process, more steps to proof and approval, and more challenges in delivery. Contributor Pat McGrew looks at the current state of variable-data technology with an eye on where it’s going.  

Keep Strong While Moving Forward: Signarama’s Advice for the Future

2020 was a challenging year, but for the Signarama franchise, tough times allowed its franchisees to become stronger, smarter, and more prepared, allowing them to adapt. Signarama president A.J. Titus explains how.

Make it Move: New Challenges for Dynamic Digital Signage

The challenges of the last year may have slowed some progress in the expansion of dynamic digital signage (DDS), but it has, at the same time, opened up some new opportunities for DDS technologies—especially as they become less expensive and higher quality.

European Print Industry Snapshot: France

In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in France.

Notable Developments in Sustainability for Textiles and Apparel

Sustainability is a hot topic in the textiles and apparel industry, as well it should be. Discussions have heated up even more as a result of the pandemic and the associated supply chain difficulties it has presented for the industry. Expect to see increased use of the terms recycling, upcycling, and even return of rentals as the industry works to adjust to a wide range of new realities. Lenzing Tencel is a good example of the type of environmental stewardship that is needed to make the industry more sustainable. Other examples are included in this article as well—and there are many more in the works or already in the market.

Pre- and Postpress Employees—2010–2018

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 32,906 employees in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). By 2018, employees had declined to 22,855. In macro news, Q4 2020 GDP was revised up.

Around the Web: Damaging Deadlines. Sartorial Smarts. Crazy Crypto. Green Gabbing. Turing Tribute. Façade Fissure. Creepy Craft. Star Sewing. New Noodles.

How outsourcing newspaper printing is helping kill local journalism. Smart clothing is evolving. John Cleese twits the NFT fad. A new study suggests that turning off your camera on a Zoom call may be more environmentally friendly. The UK’s new £50 note will honor Alan Turing. A 3D mural “opens up” a Florence art museum. They Might Be Giants launch hardcover book/CD combo. Realistic handblown glass spiders. Light-up constellation embroidery. Pasta technology evolves. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.

Data Quality and Variable-Data Printing for Print Service Providers

Brought to you by The Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech), Mike Porter, President, Print/Mail Consultants, and author of this VDP 101 article, will be moderating a panel of industry suppliers and practitioners in a session titled, “Variable Print & Mail: The Software Required to Do the Job,” at the APTech Variable Data Print & Mail Summit to be held Wednesday, April 14 from 10am–3pm. Here, he offers tips on improving data for variable-data printing.

New Developments for Digital Textile Printing: The Future of Roll-to-Roll/Print-on-Demand Technologies to Explore

Digital technologies deliver sustainable production at any scale. As we move forward into the next decade, we move into a new era of digital textile production and the technologies that enable change. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan outlines a few of the latest developments in roll-to-roll digital textile printing.

Lead Generation Strategies for Today: Part 2—Top Tools that PSPs Can Use

Lead generation has taken many forms over the years. Capturing the interest of today’s self-directed buyers involves leveraging resources that go above and beyond feet on the street. The second in a two-part series, this article considers the top tools that PSPs can use to generate interest from prospective customers. The first explored what lead generation means in today’s world.

Content Is King: But Disconnects Kill Effectiveness

We all know that content is king. Connect with your audiences using the right content and you’ve got engagement, attention, and sales. But that’s if you are sending the right content, and one survey shows that in the B2B market, there is a disconnect between what buyers need and what marketers are sending—and a big one.

Security Is the Best Medicine: The Importance of Information and Data Security in Pharmaceutical Packaging

Pharmaceutical packaging compliance, including safety and supply chain visibility, is an area that demands secure packaging and label identification. Many new compliance regulations are designed to verify the authenticity and origin of raw materials and ingredients, and to effectively, quickly, and accurately track and trace the products as they move across a global supply chain. David Zwang looks at these regulations, some of the new technologies in place to comply with them, and how print service providers can ensure they are in compliance.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Anticipated 2021 Jobs/Orders

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses expect print industry jobs/orders to rebound +9.0% from 2020 to 2021.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 5—Payment

You getting paid is as much a part of your customer’s experience as placing the order. Make every effort to streamline how much customer time you consume. A vendor that is easy to do business with creates loyal customers.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Italy

In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Italy.

A Surprising Reason for More and Better In-Store Signage

There are lots of reasons to encourage your customers to beef up their in-store signage and displays. Great marketing. Safety and regulatory compliance during COVID-19.  But did you know that really good signage can also make your customers less price-sensitive?

Transformational Workflow Infrastructures v2021

Business processes and production workflows cannot be stagnant and need to evolve as the markets and technologies evolve. Understanding the need and creating an infrastructure that supports that is key. The good news is that the options are improving.

Four Must-Attend Events at ISA Sign Expo 2021–Virtual…And Three Tips to Make the Most of It

ISA Sign Expo 2021–Virtual is coming up on April 7–9. This article, sponsored by the International Sign Association, previews four essential features to attend, and offers tips for navigating the virtual event.

Finding Our Way: Printed Signage Helps us to Navigate Safely Through the COVID-19 World.

Wayfinding signage abruptly evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributor Mark Vruno looks at how sign companies coped with the change—and surge—in demand.

Can We Put the Whole Fast Fashion Thing in the Rearview? Just Sayin’

Fast fashion became a thing around the turn of this century. It’s the process of churning out low-quality, you could even say disposable, clothing to take advantage of every passing fad and trend. But in this writer’s humble opinion, this has to stop! We are choking our oceans and landfills with junk clothes. Can we put more focus on quality and durability? Just sayin’.

Around the Web: More Fungible Fun. Denim Denial. Guilty Garamond. Zoom Zapper. Tattoo Technology. COVID Concert. Gallbladder Gambling. Culinary Compulsion. Legume Limo.

Charmin’s (oy) toilet-paper themed NFTPs. The environmental impact of jeans. Will graphene save us from the pandemic? The DC Circuit Court cancels the typeface Garamond. Social and mobile media-themed classic artworks. A new web widget that gives you excuses to exit a Zoom meeting. Light-emitting OLED tattoos. Yo-Yo Ma performs at his vaccination site. Doctors get in trouble for “Guess the weight of this organ” Instagram posts. Precision cutting boards for obsessive chefs. The Planters NUTmobile is looking for drivers. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s unfortunately not canceled miscellany.

Graphic Arts Employment—February 2021

In February 2021, all printing employment is down -0.5% from January, production employment down -0.4%, and non-production printing employment down -0.8%.

The Paradoxes of Stress

We all, at one level or another, understand that we live in difficult times. Never before have we expected, even demanded, so much from our leaders. Meeting those expectations is the most fundamental challenge for today’s leaders. Since leadership implies followership, if we don’t meet those expectations, the best we’re likely to get is disinterested and disengaged followers. We must strive to be better.

Lead Generation Strategies for Today: Part 1—What “Lead Generation” Means Today

Lead generation has taken many forms over the years. Capturing the interest of today’s self-directed buyers involves leveraging resources that go above and beyond feet on the street. The first in a two-part series, this article explores what lead generation means in today’s world. Part two will consider the top four tools that PSPs use to generate interest from prospective customers

Forest Digital of East Sussex Say that Their Epson Monna Lisa Evo Tre Is a Masterpiece in Digital Textile Printing

Working with top-end designers to create exclusive short runs means the fabrics printed at Forest Digital are not contributing to the “cheap-throw-away fashion” landfill that is so damaging to our world. In fact, we should be eliminating the term “fast fashion” from our vocabulary and our practices! Learn more about what this leading producer is doing to bring more sustainability to the industry.

Beyond the Bottle: Opportunities and Challenges in Pharmaceutical Packaging

Like many other industries, pharmaceuticals is going through a transition, and as we have seen before, industries in transition offer opportunities for those who are willing to learn and engage. David Zwang provides an overview of the latest trends in pharma packaging, and how to identify and take advantage of the opportunities.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: 2020 Jobs/Orders

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, the average number of jobs decreased -10.8% from 2019 to 2020.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 4—Artwork

You can’t start printing until you have approved artwork, but you don’t have complete control over this step in the process. You can optimize your press and finishing processes down to the second, yet you might wait three full days for artwork approval. The best you can do is make it as easy as possible for the customer to respond in a timely manner. Don’t confuse them, don’t make them work, and don’t underestimate convenience.

ISA Quarterly Economic Report Looks at the Top 10 Economic Trends for 2021 and Their Impact on the Sign Industry

A recent ISA webinar looked at how the sign and display markets fared in Q4 2020, and offered up some forecasts for 2021, which IHS Markit analysts see as a “transitional year” from COVID to post-COVID while 2022 will see the rebirth of the economy, employment, and the industry. 

Be Inspired: Mactac Gives Back...and You Can, Too!

Consistently, surveys show that giving back to the community increases a brand’s favorability among buyers. Never has this been more true than during the pandemic. That’s why stories like “Mactac Gives Back” resonate so deeply.

As the Market Changes, It’s Good to Have Partners in Growth

Over the years, Kodak has developed many groundbreaking products and, along the way, very strong bonds with their customers. Considering their long history supporting print service providers with consumables and digital process solutions, they have been able to enhance their clients’ business growth and create a great platform for Kodak’s business growth as well, it makes perfect sense.

Coffee Is for Closers: Double Down During the “Qualify Stage” and Watch Your Close Ratios Skyrocket

Picture more contracts this year. Imagine fewer “stalls” or “stops” during your sales process. Visualize the impact of improved close ratios on your commissions. To make these dreams a reality, Lisa Magnuson talks about the “Qualify Stage.”

Book Printing and Publishing in Europe

One of the oldest pastimes gained in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic: reading books. This is good news for the printing industry as book printing contributes a considerable share to the total print production. Revenues in Europe stood at €7.1 billion in 2019. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at historical developments and at the trends shaping book printing now.

Executive Q&A: Durst Expands Its Virtual Demo Capabilities

Cary Sherburne talks with Christoph Gamper, CEO of Durst, and Christian Harder, Vice President of Sales, about the current state of their business, which segments were performing better than others, and how the company was helping customers to innovate, even during this pandemic, including holding virtual demonstrations, introducing new products, and more.

Around the Web: Fungible Fanatics. Cotton Conundrum. Clever Corsets. Screen Surfeit. Capricious Cartography. Tent Trumpeting. Healthy Handle. Trial Terror. Munster Meteorology.

A JPG file sells for $69 million, for some reason. Cotton and polyester have their environmental downsides—but neither is going away any time soon. A new company converts discarded sneakers into corsets. A new laptop prototype has seven screens. How to fool AI using “typographic attack.” A non-existent town on a map briefly becomes real. A high school band practices in individual tents. A self-disinfecting door handle. A Zoom assault trial reveals that the defendant is actually in the same house as the alleged victim. Grampa Munster once did a real weathercast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s non-fungible miscellany.

Book Printing Employees—2010–2018

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 28,935 employees in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). By 2018, employees had declined to 21,976. In macro news, inflation was soft in February.

New Developments for Digital Textile Printing Inks—Sustainability and Superfast Production

One of the key components of the digital textile printing ecosphere is inks—and increasingly, sustainable inks. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan reviews the latest developments in ink technology for digital textile printing.

The Power of Personalized Print in Today’s Multi-Channel World

Savvy print providers are discovering that targeted—or better yet, personalized—print campaigns can enable market differentiation and provide a greater return on investment. This article explores how getting back to the basics with traditional direct mail can help businesses stand apart from their competitors.

Vax Populi: Now that COVID Vaccinations Are Underway, What Does That Mean for Display Graphics?

Signage has almost always been one of the most essential means of communicating important messages, which was why wide-format and sign shops early on in the pandemic were considered “essential services.” Health and safety messaging was the killer app for display graphics in 2020, and that is going to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Here’s what to look for.

Print Business Front Office Modernization: Part 3—Orders

How are orders managed before they hit the press? In this third part of a five-part series, Jennifer Matt defines the complete order process from initial inquiry to invoice payment. This means a great deal of the process happens in the carpeted area of your print business.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Anticipated 2021 Revenues

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses expect print industry revenues to rebound +9.1% from 2020 to 2021.

Bridging Strategy to Execution: How to Implement the Three Cs

Studies have shown that as many as 90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. These are epic failure rates that, but for a plan to bridge strategy to tactical execution, could instead be sustainable successes. Why then do leadership teams continue to endure poor execution? Admitting that there is a problem is a good first step, followed by a decision to do something about it.

The Power of Social Media...on Packaging

Customer product reviews are a powerful tool in e-commerce, and positive reviews often make the difference between someone making a purchase or not. Those reviews are in the public domain, so why not use them in print marketing, too? This company did.

Three Buyer and Seller Rules: Feedback Worth Sharing on Selling Your Software!

Pat McGrew responds to feedback she received from a recent article on selling software, shares some ill-fated buyer stories, and draws up  “three rules for software buyers” and “three rules for software sellers.”

Cracks in the Crystal Ball: How the Pandemic Has Driven Change in the Printing Industry

There is no question that the pandemic had a deleterious—and immediate—impact on the printing industry and the economy as a whole. While both now look to be on the road to recovery, although slower than we ever could have anticipated, it’s interesting to look at how and when that might actually occur based on research largely conducted in the final quarter of 2020.

The Print Taxonomy Initiative—Or, What Is Print and Where Is It?

The print industry has been going through a major evolution since the introduction of digital technologies. Trying to identify and quantify this shift has been almost impossible since many of the definitions of print and printing technologies haven’t been properly updated in decades. An important new initiative is tasked with drafting an “open” standard taxonomy for the global printing industry to address the issues.

So Many Books, So Little Time* —February 2021 M&A Activity

Lake Book Joins Grafica Veneta, Outside Media Integrates, JN White Acquires ECI Screenprint, and more…

January Printing Shipments—They Can Only Get Better from Here

We kicked off 2021 inauspiciously with January printing shipments coming in at $6.61 billion, down from 2020’s $7.17 billion. It's the worst January in at least the last five years, but already things are boding well for the rest of 2021.

Around the Web: Cephalopod Selfie. Locked Letters. Evolving Expression. Silly Surgeon. Traumatic Toy. Touch Termination. Myopia Mask. Titanic Television. Plush Paintings.

An octopus’ selfie—but, unfairly, not the octopus—won a photography award. Using X-ray microtomography to read secret letters. Videoconferencing is changing American Sign Language. A plastic surgeon joins a Zoom call—while in the middle of an operation. Fisher Price’s My First Home Office for preschoolers is perhaps a sign of the apocalypse. Holographic keypads for touchless devices. A face mask specifically designed to prevent fogging. A $400K television that folds down into the floor. Classic works of art rendered in fur.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.

What Is an Identity Graph and Why Does It Matter?

What is an identity graph and why does it matter? In a nutshell, it is the “next generation” customer identity management. Think of it as marketing’s version of an FBI profile.

Why Greendrop of Italy Chose Pigments and Green Technology from Epson—Smart Digital Textile Printing 

Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan says the biggest driver of change in the textile industry is its past history. Now exposed as the second largest polluter of our planet, the conventional textile industry needs to clean up its legacy production processes and evolve. Greendrop of Italy is doing just that.

Automation for the Win!

Automation is the next step in a successful future. It enables print service providers to tackle a growing number of print orders with the greatest efficiency and accuracy. Beyond having financial and practical benefits, it can be yet another differentiator that helps organizations stand apart from their competitors. This article discusses the most common benefits of automation and offers insights into how to overcome the challenges associated with implementing it.

The Job’s Not Finished ’til It’s Finished and Out the Door

Is your finishing operation holding your business back? Or depressing your margins with labor-intensive processes or waste caused by bindery errors? Are finishers disconnected islands in your workflow automation? This article, the third in a series sponsored by EFI, explains how to integrate the printing operation with nearline finishers to complete automation from prepress to finishing.

Printing Outlook 2021 Quick Look: 2020 Revenues

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print industry revenues dropped -12.6% from 2019 to 2020, compared to +4.1% from 2018 to 2019.