A look at changes that may affect all print publishers

I just purchased 500 shares of UPS. Let me explain why…

Last week I was standing at the mailbox waiting for my postman. As many of you probably know, we’ve had a lot of snow and ice in the Boston area.

I had spent a few hours digging out my mailbox so it was accessible. I saw the postman coming from the opposite end of the street and decided to wait for him.

When he arrived, he informed me that he still couldn’t reach the mailbox and because of that, my account was put on hold.

To make matters worse, he had not bothered to bring the mail with him that day.

Feeling rather stupid, I said thanks and he drove off.

I couldn’t help but think that both UPS and Federal Express had already been at my house earlier that day, dropping off small packages. They dutifully pulled up over the same bit of frozen ground, got out of the truck, marched up my ice covered driveway to my home and made their deliveries.

Now, I understand that these small packages probably netted UPS $2-$3 per box and FedEx was probably making several times that. Still, we get a lot of mail and if you think about all the money the different companies have spent, it’s easily equal to the revenue the drivers generate on any given day.

So what exactly was I supposed to be getting from the USPS that day? My bank and credit card statements come electronically and my magazine subscriptions are digital. As I pondered the pile that I did not receive, I figured it would be junk mail – hardly the thing I should go to the post office to retrieve.

This led me to further ponder how to fix the woes of the USPS as the trend is happening here. First class mail is exiting at an alarming rate and in 10 years the USPS could be called the US Junk Mailing System.

Does every town need a post office? Should mail delivery be cut from six days per week to three, or one? It seems like big changes will come to USPS and I’m surely not the first to wonder about its future.


For publishers, the changes are equally daunting. As the USPS goes bust, so goes what has been the major delivering system for magazine subscriptions and a significant source of new magazine orders.

What’s a publisher to do? Diversify young man, diversify.

This of course leads to the strategy of multiplatform publishing and not becoming one of those publishers left behind. Publishers need to start positioning themselves now so they will not be relying on the USPS 10 years from now to get their magazine issues delivered.

With that I thought of the aggressive path Clay Hall, CEO Aspire Media, has set – first for marketing magazine subscriptions on the Internet – and some of the bold plans he has for delivering digital magazines in the future.

Clay is not alone in the process, but the clock is ticking.

Imagine a world 10 years from now where the USPS is no longer viable economically to deliver promotions or your products. What does your business look like? How quickly can the landscape turn from print to digital in magazine publishing?

A number of the most forward-thinking publishers I know will meet at the Mequoda Summit West 2011. Perhaps the most forward thinking, Clay Hall, will be keynoting Managing Digital Transformation on Wednesday morning, April 6th.

Tomorrow we will talk about Clay’s agenda for surviving and thriving in the digital future.


    You let an N of 1 dictate your assessment? That seems short sighted based on your use of metrics in your business.


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