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Dr. Joe Webb & Vince Naselli Team to Offer Perspective on Commercial Print

Press release from the issuing company

September 19, 2002 -- (PrintOnDemand.com reporting from Seybold 9/12/02.) Vince Naselli of TrendWatch Graphic Arts (TWGA) and Dr. Joe Webb, founder of Trendwatch Reports, took a small group of the faithful, fueled by coffee and bagels, on a quick but very interesting tour of the state printing industry Wednesday morning, September 12. "Printers strive to be not busy faster." Dr. Joe says commercial printing may begin to rebound late in 2003 -- at the earliest. And that rebound probably will not be very robust. As he pointed out, sales volume statistics, on a per shop basis, are skewed by the "survivor syndrome." More than 7,000 commercial shops have been voted off the island in the past decade, and as a result, many of the survivors appear to be doing well. Most of the shops closing their doors since 1992 have been in the $2 million sales/20 employee category. Still, only about 20 percent of printers are making real money and the balance are near or below break even. Specialty magazines, although new ones appear almost daily, are another very weak area. In general, Dr. Joe says, "1998 was the good old days for the printing industry." The businesses that feed printing -- ad agencies, design studios and others -- are also hurting. And the Internet, even though the dot.com bubble has burst, is still a major and rapidly growing factor in attracting revenue that would once have gone to print media. Much print, especially at the lower, simpler levels, has shifted to e-commerce and is being handled online. Businesses, the moderators noted, now consider print and advertising as "discretionary spending" -- and part with dollars for them only after other expenses have been met. The general attitude toward the commoditization of print is accelerating. Of course the prepress business has been especially hard hit -- suffering about a 70 percent decline since 1992. Major challenges to printers in meeting the demands of these fundamental economic changes, include: dealing with the new print economy, adjusting to and adopting new technology, planning, establishing pricing models, collecting for their services (including creative), managing production and effectively using the web to market and manage their businesses. Opportunities cited by printers in the most recent TWGA survey were: improving economy, increased competitive skills, "selling harder/pricing lower." Many printers, Dr. Joe noted, fail to realize that they're losing volume to the Web. There is also a major tendency, he said, to buy more new equipment "so they can be not busy faster." Overall, there were no areas labeled as "hot" for growth. "Warm" areas included cross media production, digital photo, graphic arts software (composition, photo manipulation), wide format print, desktop color printer sales, and color proofing technology. For the creative community, opportunities cited included: collateral print, web design (dwindling), digital photography, direct mail (also an area of growth for printers), cross media (XML-based) projects, and electronic services. - Provided to WhatTheyThink.com via a content partnership arrangement with PrintOnDemand.com, Chuck Surprise