News for Print Publishers: Newsstand, Xerox, Customization

Print publishers need to track trends, too – here’s a few we’re keeping tabs on

While it’s true we’ve made our reputation with digital publishers, remember that many of them started as print publishers, and we helped them make the transition by instilling multiplatform strategy and philosophy. Also keep in mind that some of us have a background in print magazines going way back, most notably our founder and chairman Don Nicholas himself.

So, print is close to our heart, and more importantly, print still plays a major part in multiplatform publishing. That’s why we make it a point to include coverage for print publishers in our trend spotting. Today, we’ve got some articles from to share for analysis. Let’s get started!

Newsstand Misconceptions for Print Publishers

One of our favorite industry observers to read is D. Eadward Tree at Check out his recent piece on what people get wrong about print publishers’ newsstand efforts, including that retail prices are too high.

“That’s because newsstand experts often miss the big picture: There are many reasons to distribute copies for retail sale, and most have little to do with actually selling copies. One of the main benefits of newsstand distribution is finding new subscribers for a magazine, both from newsstand buyers and newsstand browsers. Seeing a title on sale reassures advertisers that the magazine is widely distributed and puts it on the radar of potential advertisers. That’s why many publishers distribute aggressively to the cities where its advertisers and their agencies are located. Some publishers pay huge fees for distribution at airport shops – more than they could possibly make up from sales – because air travelers tend to be so affluent and influential,” Tree writes.

“And look at all the digital-native publishers who have launched good old-fashioned print magazines: Newsstand sales are not covering their additional costs. But the cachet from having a magazine and having people see it does wonders for a web site’s credibility and traffic. Sure, some more titles probably need to bite the bullet and dial back their ratebases. But the primary reason to do so is not to sell more newsstand copies.”

What Does Xerox Purchase of Donnelley Mean for Print Publishers?

BoSacks riffs on the recent Xerox acquisition of R.R. Donnelley at


“My take on this may not be universally beloved, but I suggest that this concentration of available equipment will help make the printing industry more profitable, and that means a healthier foundation for all members of the magazine brotherhood. Could the result be a more expensive cost structure? Yes, it could,” Sacks writes.

“If print ain’t dead, then those that make it have to be able to have a sustainable business. That means making a fair profit so that print actually ain’t dead. There will be no beloved print if the printers can’t keep their plants open and running. My guess right now is that most plants run at an 80% capacity. I would prefer a tighter 98%. We get to that by taking down redundant older presses. Yes, I know publishers would like to get their magazines printed for free, let alone pay more than they are paying now.  My advice for the health of the entire industry is to get over it.”

Customization Can Increase Value of Print Publishers

Interesting post on the potential of audience development via customization tactics for print publishers and digital magazines, as well, particularly in a B2B content marketing context.

“What’s making mass-customized magazines possible are new full-color inkjet presses that can print different versions of the same pages without the expensive press stops and plate changes required by traditional offset printing. Inkjet has come a long way from the days of “uglyjet,” when its usage in magazines was restricted mostly to producing postal addresses, clunky messages, and cartoonish images. These days, it can be difficult to distinguish an inkjet-printed magazine page from an offset page” Tree writes.

“A good starting point is hybrid printing – adding a customized cover, cover wrap, insert, or special section to an otherwise conventional magazine. A magazine’s one-size-fits-all subscriber renewal cover wrap, for example, could be replaced with a piece that is customized based on the recipient’s current subscription rate, demographic characteristics and previous purchases. … Imagine a special section with editorial information that varies by region, industry, or job title – plus ads targeted at those specific interests. Creating so many short-run versions with offset would be prohibitively expensive for most magazines.”

Print publishers, have you looked into any of these possibilities? What have you found? Let us know in the comments! 

To read more news for print publishers and digital publishers, visit


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