Monday, October 31, 2005



Newspaper inserts now have an online equivalent? Gannett's invested in a technology that brings newspaper inserts to web pages in a very interesting way. Will it work? Don't expect a wholesale shift... but it's yet another way of reaching consumers in a media-fragmented market. Rich media doesn't just mean video!
Press release
"PointRoll Inc. today announced the immediate availability of PaperBoy Local Delivery, the first way for advertisers to reach a nationwide audience with interactive, online display ads incorporating market-specific content. PaperBoy ads can deliver tailored, ever-changing information to 69 percent of the total Internet audience, on Web sites including Yahoo!, and the 217 local online publications represented by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Knight-Ridder, Inc. (NYSE: KRI), the Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB), and the Real Cities Network. "
For those unfamiliar with Real Cities Network:

An easy-to-access source about direct mail trend reports is at

Okay, this is a press release, but it's interesting nonetheless. A few characteristics are common among the most successful printers, but among them is specializing in a market segment. This company does, and built an Internet front-end to service the real estate industry.

Ford is offering "mobile office" technology in its new pickups, offering dealer-installed Windows computers as an option in their F-series pickups.

San Jose magazine now offering a digital edition using RealRead technology (PDF-based)
Press release:
RealRead site:
San Jose magazine website, where you can look at their digital publication:

Direct mail growth (trying to get more details from DMA)

B2B marketers using more e-media (please watch for update; I asked for more details as well)


Today's Articles Show That Consumers Choose the Medium, Not the Content Owner

"Internet and the Future of TV" is the name of the article; it's yet another reminder of the "wherever-whenever" world, and that the information consumer is the one who determines format and medium. Time is the most limited resource, and now technology puts them in charge of their own time, not some TV network programmer.

Men are leaving print media faster than women

And everybody's leaving newspapers, or that's the idea you might be left with after this opinion piece from the St Petersburg Times of Florida "Information Age Finds Newspapers Unready"

Last week, there were a bunch of stories about how too much was made of the Sun-Google alliance, and that OpenOffice wasn't really a part of it. This story is quite different; Google may become the most important influence in the use of open-source software, and OpenOffice may be their biggest step into that marketplace in a way that consumers see. Could Google become more important than Microsoft in terms of consumer computing? How many people would use "GoogleOffice"?

Friday, October 28, 2005


Today's Essential Articles, and a New Census Report About Computer and Internet Use

Census Bureau releases new report about computer and Internet use in the U.S. (has lots of historical data and commentary). The report is worth downloading.
USA Today story:
UPI report:
" 2003, 70 million U.S. households (62 percent) had one or more computers and that 55 percent of households had Internet access, more than triple the number of households with Net access in 1997 (18 percent)...the presence of a school-aged child has had a heavy influence on computer ownership and Internet access. According to the Census, more than three-quarters of households with a school-aged child (6-17 years old) had a computer and 67 percent had Internet access...The Census report showed that of the 20 million households who stated they were not interested in the Internet, over 60 percent (12.7 million) were aged 55 and older..."
Using that last factoid from UPI... means that 40% of aged 55 and older are interested in the Internet, and this is the fastest growing demographic segment. is now creating video content for new iPods

Wal-Mart' RFID efforts are paying off
"The Bentonville, Ark., retailer now has more than 130 major suppliers shipping merchandise to its distribution centers with RFID tags attached, with about 5.4 million tags received at Wal-Mart distribution centers during the past year. The company expects to add another 200 suppliers to the list by January, with about 1,000 stores and warehouses ready to receive their tagged goods..."

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Today's Key Articles

Tomorrow is Friday, when my usual column is published. I comment more extensively on the Phoenix Visitors Bureau use of e-brochures and what it means in terms of the future of print, the way print is sold, and how digital printing isn't always the answer.

Case study why you need multiple media, not just online, and why relying on search for people to find you is dangerous (they can find your competitors, too).

Adobe has listed its program for January's Momentum in Print event

Wall Street Journal is using free trials to get more subscribers to (by the way, I heartily recommend I've grown to like it a lot more than the hard copy)

Circulation fraud story

Internet access over power lines is getting much closer,1282,69271,00.html

Reuters: "WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell warned on Thursday that many of the world's leading media companies are on the verge of panic amid the seismic shifts brought on by the Internet."

Effect of online on offline retail purchase behavior

How circulation and site visits are not the same. The article (from a blog) is a further indication of how lost the magazine business has been in finding a provable revenue model that will attract advertisers... oh yeah, it needs to attract a dependable audience, too. Somehow we keep forgetting that.

Monday, October 24, 2005


E-paper Project Announced

E-Paper is starting to get a lot more attention. It's more likely a "when" rather than a "will it ever" topic. I've joined with Bob Sacks, Richard Romano, and Vince Naselli (with contributions also from David Zwang) to explore this topic more thoroughly.

The link to the press release is

Download the proposal

If your company is interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Vince Naselli at or by phone at 1-732-568-0316. Get in on the prepublication discount and save $1025.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


OpenOffice 2.0 Released, and More of My Software Favorites

OpenOffice 2.0 has been released today, after quickly going through three release candidates since the beta was released in September. I've used OpenOffice for about two years, and have been using developer versions for over a year. Since I'm tired of MS Office, and even WordPerfect Office (does anyone remember Lotus SmartSuite?), this suits me just fine.

I am multi-office. I prefer writing straight text in WordPerfect, I use Word when other people send me those files but I never initiate anything in it. Lotus WordPro (and its predecessor AmiPro) never caught my fancy. I still think Lotus Manuscript was one of the best word processors ever made, and was ahead of its time. It was the internally developed tech documentation software that Lotus let "escape" into the marketplace. Word did not really catch up until Word95, long after Manuscript died when Lotus bought Samna's Ami Pro. WordPro would have been great, but it was such a memory hog. Lotus really blew it, especially when Freelance was so far ahead of Powerpoint (heck, they blew it when they let 1-2-3 get trampled by Excel!). Lotus SmartSuite still works (I bought a copy for $29 a year ago from a closeout site), and Freelance is still smooth to work with.

WordPerfect kind of just sits there. Novell ruined QuattroPro, which was way ahead of Excel until they mangled it, and Corel really has not done much to it other than introduce new bugs that they fix with some of the old ones. Excel's charts are the best of them all, and that's OpenOffice's weakest point. Corel Presentations is one of those programs you want to like, and then you start using it, and "like" turns into frustration. At this stage, unless software has keyboard shortcuts that are similar to MS Office that are either built-in or easily recreated, it's a real burden. OpenOffice Impress does a superb job of opening PowerPoint documents, but there are occasional minor formatting issues when saving them in that format. I've been using it for all of my presentations of late unless someone I'm working with is firmly entrenched in PowerPoint.

As far as data bases go, OpenOffice has a free one that I won't be using. Filemaker is head and shoulders above MS Access, Lotus Approach (does anybody use that?), Paradox (in the dictionary, it's listed under "user-friendly" as an antonym), and a lot of the other data base programs. Filemaker is made for the "un-geeks," so OpenOffice doesn't have a chance with me in this area anyway. Filemaker may be one of the best, sturdiest, programs ever written for the PC (and that's ironic because of its Apple and Mac roots!)

Two nice features in OpenOffice: built-in PDF and Flash file making. It was really funny a few days ago when I read that next year's MS Office will include PDF file making. WordPerfect has had it for years. I've recommended people download OpenOffice and open their Word files in it to make PDFs. Flash is handy if you want to save a presentation and put it up on the Web. Really neat.

Another benefit: OpenOffice is available for Linux, Solaris, and Macintosh.

OpenOffice is free at
I use Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, which is based on a slightly earlier build than this OpenOffice release today, just by a few weeks. I found a couple of bugs, but the StarOffice version has a better thesaurus, more clip art, and other goodies. A free 90-day evaluation version can be had at

eWeek article about OpenOffice,1895,1874157,00.asp
Interview with Louis Suarez-Potts, community manager of
TechWeb story about the release

Another favorite, AbiWord is great when you just have to do something simple, like what a lot of us refer to as "dumping text." It loads fast and does not have a lot of overhead. Be sure to download the extra features (there are three files to download from the site).

For my other software picks, see this blog posting:

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Adobe Running a Print Event? ... and Other Neat Stuff

Yes, "Momentum in Print" scheduled for San Francisco, January 22-26 , 2006. Very sketchy details are on the site.
Some of their plans can be inferred from their paid sponsorhip document

I was thinking about Adobe's show and it made me think about how for all intents and purposes, Seybold San Francisco is gone. If I could go back in time to a trade show, I think I'd like to go back to Seybold 1997. The Internet was on the verge of exploding and I was finally understanding it. It was exciting to be there.

Good for Adobe to grab this opportunity while others are just standing around or sitting on their hands.

Advertising Age has a good commentary "Pondering the Role of the Printed Page."

There should be some pondering going on at The New York Times -- their financial report was quite bad as far as traditional media goes. . This was interesting "Online revenue was again strong for New York Times Co., as it has been throughout the newspaper industry. The News Media Group's Internet properties saw revenue jump 30.5% from the same quarter last year, while's revenue rose about 67%." ... as well as the comment that the smaller papers they own are doing better than their big metros. Gee, that's not a surprise. People can get national and global news with a few mouse clicks. The local stuff is still elusive on the 'net. I can't find any mention of how much commercial printing they're doing, since they made such a big deal about getting into it a few months ago. Commercial printing done by newspapers is not a big deal: it's been going on for more than a century. For a long time, the only typesetting equipment and the only printing equipment of note in a town would be the town newspaper. It's an old trend that ebbs and flows, and it's about $4billion or so annually (less than 5% of the commercial printing business).

E-paper news from Siemens

Corporate blogging still growing

San Francisco Chronicle discusses eBay's purchase of Skype and how buyers and sellers can now talk over the Internet.

In an independent but related story, the Palm Beach Post is allowing on-line classified ad readers to "click to call" advertisers.

Some folks don't believe me when I talk about senior citizens being the "wealthiest, most educated, healthiest of their age in the history of the world" and then I connect that to their growing use of e-communications, beyond initial expectations. Here's a Business Week article called "Attack of the Gaming Grannies" with the sub-head "Older people make up a sizable, though often overlooked, segment of the video-gaming market. And they're just as quick on the trigger as teens." Anyone counting on "oldsters" for the preservation of print media should really think twice. One of the real drivers for them is digital photography and leisure travel arrangements... and IMing with grandchildren doesn't hurt either.

Advertising Age article on the size and forecast of the direct marketing business

DMA's quarterly report press release is at and the report can be downloaded at

The Federal Reserve issued their Beige Book which indicated that the economy weathered the hurricanes better than expected. Greenspan spoke about how in his 18 years as head of the Fed he has been continuously amazed at the "resiliency" of the economy. Despite our various problems with regulation and economic ignorance in politics and other areas, we are among the free-est economies in the world. When money is free to move, it creates that resilience. There is nothing in the Beige Book to imply that the Fed's rate increases will stop. Hurricane Greenspan will end on January 31. But don't hold your hopes out that the rate increases will stop when he leaves. They're intent on putting us on the verge of recession, and will overtighten.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Today's Stories

Postitive printing story that seems to make sense: Memphis Business Journal (printers expanding geography, concentrating on logistics; gee, sounds like part of Dr Joe's prescription!)

Fortune columnist discusses the challenges facing old media giants,15704,1117648,00.html

Blogging in the classroom

E-paper story from the Washington Post

Hilarious story from Slate calling into question newspapers blaming newsprint costs for their problems. We know that's not why they're in trouble, and the chart in the article makes an inflation-adjusting geek like me very proud.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Bubbling about E-Brochures, and Misinterpreting the Bubble and the non-Print Decision, and Other Stuff

WSJ's identifies the five best books about how the Internet affects business. Most were published in the Internet boom of the late 1990s. It's really important to separate the stock market bubble with what really happened to people's daily lives: an information marketplace where there is far less friction and trouble in securing information; an expectation that everything can be "googled" or you could at least get close to what you need; and young consumers who are immersed in a world of constant connectivity. Internet bubble? People always made stupid decisions about stocks, but look at the infrastructure that bubble left behind. The advice in these books are quite relevant.

Speaking of that, the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau is switching to e-brochures. Here are highlights from the article about it (the full article is at )

This is why the first step in repositioning the printing business is recognizing the significant benefits of e-publishing. Why couldn't a printer have handled this job for the visitors bureau? Why couldn't it have been the printers idea? Or is someone sitting in the printer's office saying "the economy is bad; they don't order brochures like they used to." Or perhaps they are thinking "those brochures are probably printed offshore because labor in China is so cheap." Or maybe it's "our competitors undercut our prices."
See the e-brochure page
Their main site is
As written up by one of the developers

WSJ has a good article about laptops in classrooms. Some teachers are finding them disruptive as students IM, surf, and do e-mail during class. There's also a change in the way people sit in classrooms. Traditionally, students sit in back (much like Catholics kid ourselves the way we sit at Mass) with active students sitting up front in the form of a "T"; today, the position of electric outlets determines sitting location. These teachers can complain all they want. I still would read Captain America hidden in a textbook in the back of the classroom if I had the chance; on days, of course, when I was not reading my hidden copy of U.S. News & World Report.

WSJ also had an interesting article on how the storage business has heated up, mainly from the growing use of digital images, static and moving. It also be that no one ever cleans their hard drives. I do find that keeping everything comes in handy. I just keep a directory where I keep every e-mail attachment I've ever received and then add copies as I use them into appropriate directories. Ah, the days when I felt so emboldened by my purchase of a 100MB drive for $1000 are clearly gone. Now you can get 1GB memory sticks and no one really thinks about it any more.

Wi-fi "cloud" over rural Oregon: 700 square miles of wi-fi access, free for the taking!

Friday, October 14, 2005


Links worth pursuing

Interesting blog posting of someone who is of the same mind as yours truly about the competitive situation of print and new media.

Pitney Bowes discussion of the relationship of the economy and mail. Includes international aspects as part of the analysis.

Joel Friedman is starting a new printing industry web site, specializing in interviews.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Even More Assigned Reading

Yahoo! has published research that says "81 percent of college students rate search as their best source of information, followed by friends and family, 64 percent; newspapers, 36 percent; and TV, 24 percent..." Well, my parents used to say "you'll believe your friends before you believe us?" and now I can see me saying to my son "you'll believe a search engine before you believe your own parents?"

How come no one is beating the drums that hard copy mail gets delivered and e-mail has a really spotty record even for opt-in mailings. This press release from ReturnPath states:
"While an average of 21 percent of emails were blocked or filtered and did not reach consumers’ inboxes across all mailers, the levels of blocking and filtering varied by mailer from a low of 1 percent to a high of 54 percent. On an ISP by ISP basis, the non-delivery rates ranged from a low of 8 percent to a high of 39 percent."
This is not the first time that we've heard about the problems of e-mail delivery. Yet I've never seen a major story about this in a graphic arts publication. When your competitors hand you a weakness on a silver platter, you are supposed to pounce!
ClickZ had a short story about the report

Apple has introduced the video iPod. iPod is a "platform" that is becoming more and more robust. Watch for it: there are people who have already developed e-book software for it. Thinkfree has software that allows using the iPod to feed Powerpoint files to projectors. More to come...,+new+iMac/2100-1041_3-5893863.html?tag=nl.e498


Advertising and Casablanca

Two stories about magazines today sent my mind immediately to that immortal scene in Casablanca. But first, the links:

Advertising Age has a story "65% of Readers Believe Magazines Sell Editorial Plugs" with the subtitle "Study Finds Widespread Cynicism about Editorial Integrity"

Publishers Information Bureau released September data, claiming in its headline that this was great. Sure, look at the table a few links inside: pages up 1.9% for the year (real GDP is up 3.5%, though) and September pages were down -0.8%. The revenues they report are rate card revenues, which would be like Wal-Mart reporting its sales at list price.

And now, back to our movie:

An angry murmur starts among the crowd. People get up and begin to leave. Rick comes quickly up to Renault.
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Renault: I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
The display of nerve leaves Rick at a loss. The croupier comes out of the gambling room and up to Renault.
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Renault: Oh. Thank you very much.

(Hear the scene at

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Yet More Assigned Reading

PriceWaterhouseCoopers released their global media report, and it's usually well worth reviewing.
Reuters story
Press release
Top level findings

This story is from Kilgore, TX, and I thought it was instructive and unintentionally ironic. First, it's a reminder how not everyone seeks the latest greatest technologies and they still make a living. As i read it, I just thought it was funny that a local printing oldtimer finally sold his business to another local, a formal funeral director, which gave me my chuckle. he's going from one dying business to another. At least in the printing business you can get repeat business! It was also interesting that the old owner switched from hot to cold type in 1988..... yeah, 1988.... 10 years after "everyone else" started.... maybe he sold because he didnt want to endure the technology shift to laser printing :)

"Booming magazine industry a boon to Publishers Printing" is the article title that caught my eye. The setup of the article is all wrong, but it's nice to read about a successful, profitable printer. Oh, please give us more stories like this one!

You think running a family printing business is easy? The Vistaprint prospectus is full of all kinds of goodies to raise red flags except for those with the fortitude to not get squeamish with new IPOs. They're making money, except for a payment to a family member for some technology from another business. Reading it made my head hurt. Without that $21 million payment, they would have made about 5.5% profit on sales last year. Revenue grew from $35MM in 2003, $58MM in 2004, and $90MM in fiscal 2005. Sales per employee were $227K, or about twice industry average. It's also strange reading about "spam" as a business risk for a printing business. It's not an investment that I'm comfortable with in my portfolio (the number of successful and thriving companies that I won't touch is a long list... hmmmmm.....), but their targeting small business is certainly something that I've been pointing to as an opportunity that most of our industry misses. Vistaprint is certainly focused on it. I would not be surprised if they did not eventually become an acquisition target of a company like Staples; neither would I be surprised if Staples did not try to clone the Vistaprint business themselves. And if Vistaprint grows out of its old-style marketing into something richer and deeper, it could become a significant and influential business in the history of the industry. Until then, their printing is " free* ".

Important NY Times article about the media mix shifts

WSJ Asia designer explains fusion of print and Internet media

St. Louis Post Dispatch article about downsizing in newspapers

Average newspaper reader is 55... I have 6 years of below average reading, I guess.

The Associated Press has started a new service to attract readers under 35. Rats! I'm 14 years too old to read it!

Here's an old press release from June that is quite good. Mark Kaline, Global Media Manager, Ford Motor Company, and Chair, Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Print Advertising Committee, and Robert Liodice, CEO and president of the ANA, list their 10 "pleas" to the print media business. After you read the 10 items, if you're saying to yourself "publishers aren't doing these already?" then there should be no reason to wonder why print is having problems. And if the publishers aren't doing it, what are the printers supposed to do?

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Blogging, Young Communicators, and Old Information Gatherers

There's one industry marketing executive who kids me about blogging, and it comes from disbelief that blogging really matters in the grand scheme of things. I happen to think that blogging does matter, and its influence is just starting to be understood. What we think doesn't matter. It's what younger media consumers do that will shape the media markets of the future. So I read with great interest this article from UK's Guardian,16559,1586891,00.html

"...among those with a web connection at home, 31% said that they had launched their own personal site or blog. Those aged 16 to 17 have taken most avidly to personal online publishing, with a female bias... Some will have started personal sites with rudimentary personal information or centred around music or sport, while others have become mini publishing magnates before leaving school."

The young people in the poll view the Internet in a way beyond their parents: it is for communication AND information. Older users tend to view it for information alone. I know I'm a technology geek (not from a technology/science standpoint but from a user standpoint), but I know that folks in my age group seem to have lots of problems adapting to instant messaging. Others seem to have incredible problems figuring out e-mail and attachments. Yet, every teenager seems to have figured this out as easily as they figured out knives and forks.

It's very important not to bring our personal media biases, habits, and preferences to the discussion of current and future media acceptance. Young people are immersed in media choice. My generation, raised on three TV networks and dial telephones have lots of trouble grasping the significance of that. We see these media as additive to what we knew. Younger ones don't know a time without these media, and don't see them as additive, but see them as enhancements to their immersion since birth in a constantly connected world.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


August Printing Shipments Down -$297 Million

The Commerce Department released August printing shipments data today. They were down -$297 million less than 2004. For the year to date they are down -$1.4 billion, a -2.3% decline for the year. On an inflation-adjusted basis (I updated the CPI adjustment, which made the situation look worse, unfortunately), August was down -$586 million, and is down -$3.77 for the year. I'll discuss it more in my Friday WTT column.

Want to see disturbing? Look at the chart that shows the monthly comparisons of 2004 to 2005. The last few months have been awful, and of course get worse when you adjust for inflation. Some of these disappointing data developments were foreshadowed by the Publishers Information Bureau and American Business Media releases I mentioned in this blog a few entries ago. Is there a chance that the rest of the year is really headed down the toilet? There's an unpleasant thought. Hunker down. Reality eventually confronts all budgets; better to do it now.


Print 80 Memories

A conversation about past trade shows got me reminiscing about the fourth-- and most memorable-- industry show I ever attended: Print 80.

What a crowd-- color scanning was the rage, Scitex introduced its Response CEPS system, offpress proofing was hitting its stride, and there was a silver crisis going on. Film prices had about doubled from the prior year. To think that 25 yrs later at Print05 there would be no prepress buzz (other than exposing plates via ctp to which the industry has become quite used to) is pretty amazing.

Back at Print80, companies were trying to demonstrate nonsilver films. Agfa's was bismuth based, and used uric acid for development. This led to all kinds of jokes in the booth about running out of chemistry, and then drinking a few beers to create enough liquid to replenish the tanks, if you know what i mean. I don't drink except for a glass of wine now and then, but we had a sales crew that would have happily assisted at a moment's notice.

It was also the show where I had to room with Agfa's wildest sales guy. There I was, young, innocent marketing assistant, thrown to the wolves at the "new" Hyatt Regency Downtown. He got up at 6, went for breakfast with customers, then headed to the show. At 6pm he would come back and change, muttering something about what a prude I was, and then exit carrying a glass of wine with him to the elevator. He'd return at 2am, turn on the TV (which had to stay on in order for him to sleep he claimed), and then call home; yes, his wife was up at 2am, too. At 6am he'd start all over again. He made fun of the books I brought with me about multivariate forecasting. Maybe that's what hurt most about rooming with him. :) He was quite a guy, carrying almost $2 million in volume in 1980. I always expected to read an obituary of him indicating that he died via spontaneous combustion while partying with customers. "I don't know what happened, officer, he just burst into flames."

It was also the show where our new department head took us all out to dinner at steakhouse Hy's of Canada. He proceeded to tell us what a great department we were and how well we worked together and he couldn't think of a better department in the company. He then started a process of dismantling the department person by person. Yes, it wasn't long after that show that I had my famous meeting with the personnel director, trying to get tuition reimbursement. That was the meeting where I was told "we don't need any MBA's around here." They didn't, I convinced myself, so I left a little more than two months after Print80. Well I really stepped in it then when I "ruined" my career by getting a doctorate seven years later. I remember the farewell luncheon where I ceremoniously crossed my name out of the Agfa company phone book; and I still have a co-worker's note where he wrote "leaving Agfa is like sex: once you do it, you wonder why you didn't do it sooner." He would stay until his retirement, it turned out, and really didn't want to work anywhere else. What's nice though is that over the years so many of my Agfa coworkers have stayed in touch; though it was just two years there, my experiences there shaped much of my career.

What a blur the early 80s were for me. It was funny that I was told they didn't need MBA's at one place and then I would work at Chemco Photoproducts (where I stayed until 1987) where they wanted someone with my exact background.

Strangely, I miss those rocky Agfa times. Life was easier then. We had film, phototypesetting paper, and a whole host of things are seem so archaic now, but required skill and craft to do what now takes just a few clicks of a mouse. And they say our industry is resistant to change. Bah!

For proof that I worked at Agfa, and had hair, go to

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