“Many ancillary areas are necessary to offer our print customers, even if they are not money makers initially or ever,” says Dan Weber, vice president of sales for Publishers Press. “It has become extremely tough for printers to hang on to the customers they have, because of price-conscious buying, aggressive printers, and tough times. Great customer service and quality don’t cut it anymore, so we need more hooks and substance to try to be a one-stop business provider—a partner that is attempting to squeeze out costs in the process of print and everything that comes with it. We did not get into digital magazines and co-mail to make a profit, but would be nice to get to a break-even, and that looks to be achievable.”Weber was addressing his own company’s perspective, but without question was also reflecting an industry point of view. At a recent off-the-record lunch, a president of another printing company said pretty much the same thing—that printers must expand their relevance to publishers beyond merely printing their magazines, but that making money on a new array of services was a big challenge.Polling the PrintersFOLIO: developed a survey to ask printers what services they offer, how long they’ve offered them, and whether they make money from them. We asked about old favorites like digital asset management, which have been discussed for years but which also have never found widespread adoption. We asked about digital magazines, which have gained enormous traction despite predictions four or five years ago that they were a transitional technology. We asked about co-mail, which is a service most printers know they need to provide (even though only a few did prior to 2007). And we asked about far-afield services such as layout and Web development.What we found was striking. We sent surveys to 20 printers, and eight responded by presstime. Of the eight, all but one offers digital asset management. All but one offers digital magazines. Six of the eight offer page-layout services. Four of the eight offer Web development services. All of them offer co-mail. Four offer content development services. And seven offer page-production services. What’s more, most have offered most of these services for years, in some cases, decades. “In the mid-1990s, we had a marketing campaign with the tagline, “Oh, and we print, too,” writes Claire Ho, marketing communications manager at Quad Graphics. “That remains true today.”Who’s Making Money?In a comparison of all of the respondents, the most telling juxtaposition is profitability, which slips even among the services that are most commonly offered. While seven companies offer asset management, only three are profitable. “Digital asset management has not been, to my knowledge, viable in our part of the market, which is serving the small-to-mid-size publisher producing one or two medium-to-long run magazines,” says Barry Long, digital services coordinator at American Press. “Asset management seems to make sense for larger organizations, and only when they maintain the process internally, not outsourcing.” Quad Graphics’ Ho has a different perspective. “As far as demand, we see more and more customers extend the value of their assets through repurposing and automated page flows,” she says. “Asset management systems are the enabler to make this happen.”While seven of the responding printers offer digital magazines, only four are profitable. Still, printer-respondents report that digital magazine demand is increasing. All eight of the respondents offer co-mail services, but only four actually make money. Printers typically take one of two approaches: Offer co-mail capabilities in-house or contract with third parties. American Press takes the mixed approach. “We have successfully co-mailed off-line with industry provider ALG, which serves printers and mailers whose businesses does not justify the expense of installing lines within their own shops,” says Paul Grieco, vice president of sales. “We have been successful co-mailing in-line, too, when the product mix justifies merging lists and binding and mailing two or more products.”Quad is one of the printers that reports making money. “In 1986, we introduced the industry’s first co-mailing machine,” Ho says. “Demand for co-mailing is skyrocketing.”Demand By MarketBoth the data and the accompanying comments suggest that brand extensions for printers are highly dependent on the sector of the industry served. Large, long-run titles may have little need for co-mailing services, but significant need for sophisticated imaging and prepress services. High-frequency magazines may need high-end production-management solutions. Smaller publishers may need ad-creative services. Beyond digital magazines, some growth areas are emerging. One is page-production services, which are common in the scientific and medical journal market. And another would appear to be Web development, on the logic that if the printer is handling a publisher’s content for a print magazine, then it might also provide content-management service for the Web. But so far, that has not gained much traction. Only half of the respondents offer Web development services and only two make money from it. Notes Publishers Press’ Weber, whose company offers neither page-layout services or Web development: “Making up pages and Web sites gets too much into design.”Content-development also falls into this peripheral area. “It’s not usually popular in the magazine market, but very well utilized by our Marketing Solutions Group customers,” says Quebecor World’s vice president of marketing Marilynn Jacobs.In the end, though, the pressure for printers to diversify in ways that have a significant impact on revenue will continue to build. And printers that don’t risk being commoditized in the near future.As Fry’s sales and operations manager Elizabeth Bellis puts it, “These services are a logical extension. All have been developed based on customer interest. We encounter many publishers who haven’t considered using these services. As we interact, they realize the advantages.” A Look at Printers’ Ancillary Services Many printers offer a variety of related services. Publishers may not know of many of them. And printers have not cracked the code yet for monetizing these business extensions. It’s a challenging environment out there for printing companies, which long have been—but may no longer be—the magazine publishing company’s most-important class of supplier.Folios are declining, trim sizes are being reduced, frequencies are being cut and e-media for some publishers is emerging as the strategic core of their businesses. Pressure on print pricing is enormous. To avoid being viewed as a commodity, as a purely cost-based decision, printers have for years relied on customer service and perception of print quality. That may no longer be enough. Given the climate, FOLIO: recently surveyed the industry’s suppliers for their perspective on whether and which new types of services were necessary. Consider this remarkable quote from one of the industry’s best-known printing companies:
35 best battery life laptops Pavilion x360 circa May 2016. Josh Miller/CNET The US Product and Safety Commission on Tuesday announced a “battery safety” recall of about 78,500 HP laptops for what the UPSC calls “fire and burn hazards.” HP requested we emphasize that it’s recalling the batteries, not the laptops. Given that most batteries are nonremovable by end users, it amounts to the same thing on your end — you still have to ship your laptop off somewhere. However, it does mean that the company replaces the battery, not the entire laptop, so the distinction matters a lot to them. (Like cars getting recalled for faulty airbags.)HP initiated the recall in January 2018, and expanded it in January 2019, but the news hadn’t widely circulated because of the US government shutdown. The UPSC finally posted the news to its site on Tuesday with the explanation, “NOTE: This recall expansion was previously announced independently on Jan. 17, 2019 by the firm due to US government furlough.” (We spotted it via Tom’s Hardware.)This is part of a continuing series of battery recalls from HP. The Jan. 17 recall was for about 51,000 models, but 41,000 were recalled in June 2016 and 100,000 in January 2017, bringing the total for the past two-and-a-half years to almost a quarter of a million.The recall applies to laptops sold between April 2015 and December 2018. Per HP: Batteries affected by this program may have been shipped with specific HP Probook 64x (G2 and G3), HP ProBook 65x (G2 and G3), HP ProBook 4xx G4 (430, 440, 450, 455, and 470), HP x360 310 G2, HP ENVY M6, HP Pavilion x360, HP 11 notebook computers and HP ZBook (17 G3, 17 G4, and Studio G3) mobile workstations sold worldwide from December 2015 through April 2018. They were also sold as accessories or provided as replacements from December 2015 through December 2018 for the above products, as well as additional products through HP or an authorized HP Service Provider, including certain HP Mobile Thin Client products. HP also warns, “It is essential to recheck your battery, even if you did so previously and were informed that it was not affected. However if you have already received a replacement battery, you are not affected by this expansion.” If you suspect your laptop qualifies — it doesn’t apply to every model sold within that period — you can download the validation utility from the recall page to check. Updated 1:30 p.m. ET: Added clarification from HP. See all the best laptops of CES 2019 17:56 Laptops HP Tags 2 Comments 37 Photos Now playing: Watch this: Share your voice
By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, firstname.lastname@example.orgI spent most of my birthday (July 1) weekend at a “no tech Yoga retreat” at the Bar-T Mountainside Summer Camp, in Urbana, Maryland.For those who know me well, the sight of me at a Yoga retreat is an antithetical narrative; for decades I eschewed the practice of Yoga in favor of weight training (I’ve been lifting since I was 13), then I met my good Brother Changa Bell.Bell’s story in many ways is a mythic one. In the early 2000’s, he was pursuing a career as a filmmaker, when a previously undiagnosed heart condition was revealed; Bell’s heart would inexplicably stop and then start beating again. “The doctor’s solution was to install a pacemaker,” Bell told me. Instead, he opted to dramatically alter his life. “I changed; stopped drinking, smoking weed, doing happy hours and stopped dating multiple women,” he added.Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)By the mid 2000’s, Bell seemed to be drowning in his own outsized ambition. He was pursuing multiple degrees; as a McNair Scholar in 2006, he sought an MA in Comparative Regional Studies (Latin America), an MBA in International Marketing and was a PhD candidate in Economics. But, the pressure of powerful personal issues, including his dying brother, a custody battle over his oldest child and a new marriage (his wife Devonna was two weeks pregnant), compelled Bell to release that prodigious academic load and forced him to delve deeper into spirit.Ultimately, Yoga became a major part of his path to enlightenment (Bell recently completed another life changing chapter with a month-long trip to India). Today, he is a Yogi, life coach, spiritualist and owner of the Sunlight and Yoga studio on Falls Road in Northeast Baltimore and founder of the Black Male Yoga Initiative (BMYI). With BMYI, Bell’s mission is really ministry, bringing the benefits of Yoga’s physical and spiritual pursuits to young Black men from Baltimore who typically grapple with very challenging life experiences.That brings us to this past weekend in Urbana. Bell and Devonna, his amazing wife invited me to this Yoga retreat and I didn’t really hesitate (although my only previous Yoga experience was with Bell at the Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle retreat in Philadelphia last November). I thought it would be a cool way to spend my birthday, but it turned out to be so much more.The Bell’s indefatigable and fiercely independent five children (ages 3-10), were ubiquitous. So were the dozen Black boys, ages three to 17, who were invited to participate on the retreat and accompanied by male mentors, there were also three women from Morgan State University’s School of Public Health who attended (which was free for all of us due to Bell’s generosity). The first morning started with Yoga at 6 a.m., later we zip lined through the woods, which included a harrowing obstacle course, there was swimming, followed by a restorative Yoga session, and we ended the day with an eye-opening (literally) night time hike through the woods (with no flashlights).At the end of that day there were some tense moments when one of the older boys was vocally rebelling over giving up his cell phone. His behavior was corrected by Bell and the other men. But, maybe more importantly the young man who was acting out, was also counseled by one of the other older boys, a funny and charismatic 17-year old with a huge personality. It was the same boy, a natural leader who when we arrived at the camp and began the process of introducing ourselves, spoke openly and tearfully about how much he loved his mother. He spoke about how he knew he “was good” as long as he had her.The next morning, the young man who had been disrespectful the night before came to breakfast with a brand new positive attitude as he entered the dining hall and loudly proclaimed to all who had assembled “good morning.”I’m confident the no tech Yoga retreat was an amazing experience for those young men, I know it was for me. I’m also confident Bell’s desire to introduce the tenets of Yoga that probably saved his life to others, could save the lives of countless other Black boys and men.What a beautiful weekend (which would not have been possible without the extraordinary work of Devonna Bell and Chrissy Hudson, Changa’s assistant).For me personally, Bell facilitated an opportunity to stretch my body, mind and spirit in new ways at a critical crossroads in my life (I’m publishing my first book, Baltimore After Freddie Gray, among other things).I am grateful.Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore Editor.