The pandemic did show us many processes moving digital. Communication is no exception. There is a huge push to move books to digital, although there are grave disadvantages. Magazine has been a bit under the radar and the declines in circulation in many countries are known. The better to see that launches of print magazines rebounded after the pandemic slump in 2020. According to Mr Magazine, Samir Husni, U.S. print Magazine launches were doubling in 2021 compared to 2020.
Husni has been tracking magazine launches annually for 43 years. The 122 print magazines launched in 2021 are close to 139 in 2019 and 124 in 2017. Although this is way down from the golden ages before the internet achieved mass adoption (333 titles were launched in 2000), it is a sign that publishing of print magazines is a lively market, but different from what it used to.
Interestingly there were a couple of re-launches among the 122 titles. Seems that publishers have learned that a digital presence is sometimes not enough. Some launches in 2021 were more daring, like an US issue of Italian fashion magazine with a page count 400 pages!
Most of the new launches have something in common: they are niche-oriented and often have low frequencies — quarterly or bimonthly. By relying less on advertising but on circulation revenue, they also follow a general trend in print publishing. Accordingly, the magazines have high cover prices, and they are printed on high-quality paper, underscoring the print positioning itself as a premium media channel.
Technology is helping to cater for short run, niche titles. Make-ready and waste came down a lot on traditional presses. Inkjet is even better suited for short runs and print quality and paper latitude is getting there as well. Ink costs for glossy, high coverage magazines might be something to watch out for, however I doubt that the digital print opportunities are sufficiently considered by existing and would-be publishers.
The times of mass magazines are gone, however serving niche interests can be rewarding – which probably large, traditional publishing houses are not that well equipped to serve. Prepress and print capacity are much easier to come by these days, giving upstart publishers a chance to get into printed issues and most likely responsible for doubling the print magazine launches. I am sure that these magazines will find their readers – if printer can find the paper to print.
If something is illustrating the current shortage in paper it is the rising costs of recovered paper. The chart shows German recovered paper prices – indexed for 2015 as 100%. China, once the main destination of recovered paper closed their borders for most waste materials in 2018 – which includes most recovered paper. This sent recovered paper prices into a tailspin. The bottom was reached during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, when everything came to a standstill, at about 20% of the 2015 prices.
From the 14th of June to the 18th Inkjet Insight is hosting the 2021 virtual Inkjet Innovation Week to educate the industry on the latest inkjet technology coming to market across document, labels, packaging and industrial segments. Technology coverage includes presses, press components, software and finishing. Anchoring the event are a series of 60 minute, expert-led webinars during the week of June 14th. An additional 30 minutes has been reserved for Q&A and questions may also be sent to experts in advance.
The 5 days do focus on the following segments:
Web-fed document production
Sheet-fed document production
Packaging & labels
Industrial and bespoke systems
Inkjet workflow and efficiency (software and hardware)
Together with Amy Machado from IDC and Elizabeth Gooding I will present on the second day on sheet-fed inkjet. We will cover market data, the latest launches, technology progress, where sheet-fed inkjet makes sense and what might come next.
22nd of April is Earth Day – and it is virtual drupa day three 2021. Still there were 57 vendor or conference presentations to choose from. Again, I listened in into about a dozen, with a few more briefly looked at.
As Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection it is no surprise that one of the drupa main conference topics today was sustainability – or in the words of drupa “circular economy”. The other theme of the “connected consumer” was less visible – I guess since all attendees were connected this counts as well.