Virtual drupa 2021 – four days on your screen

Drupa 2020 is history – that never happened. Drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well. But there is still virtual drupa in 2021 and we are all curious on how this experiment is going to work out. After all, a virtual event is almost the opposite to the live, meet and touch drupa we all know. Virtual drupa 2021 is going to take place next week on four days on your screen, from the 20th of April to the 23rd.

Virtual drupa will have several elements:

  • An exhibition space
  • A networking plaza
  • A conference area

Some inkjet events to watch out for

Printing is not all about inkjet, but this is the most dynamic type of technology, with the potential to drive new applications and markets. Therefore, some inkjet events to watch out for are lining up.

Inkjet Insight is having an Innovation Week. This is series of webinars to educate the industry on the latest inkjet technology coming to the market, across document, labels, packaging and industrial segments. Technology coverage includes presses, press components, software and finishing. Different experts will share their knowledge and are available for Q&A. The webinars will run from June 14th to 18th.

Also, at Inkjet Insight a monthly overview on the latest inkjet production press installations gives readers an overview on which company installed which device into which company. It will be interesting to see how markets and demand develop. We started this series in January 2021 and will have a monthly update. January was a strong month with 16 installs, followed by 11 in February. You would need to become a member, but this is definitely worth it. Naturally we will miss some installations, as there was no press release or other public mention. If you know of any installs, please let me know.

There will be some more inkjet events to watch out for this year. A lot will still be virtual, but I hope on-site events will resume. I certainly have marked my calendar for the Hunkeler Innovationdays 2022, starting on the 21st of February 2022. Hopefully there will be opportunities to see the latest launches even before that.

Drupa or the pain of going virtual

I do feel that drupa is an important event for the printing industry, likely the most important one. Sadly, there have been many exhibitors pulling out of drupa 2021 – which is understandable in the face of rising Covid numbers all over Europe currently and increasing travel restrictions.  Still I – and many others – want to hear about the latest products and technologies.

With a great number of vendors resorting to virtual events in the meantime I believed it to be a smart move of the drupa organizers to have a virtual platform for news and announcements as well as recently posted. Drupa is still THE brand for exhibitions around print, gets worldwide attention and has immediately a large reach.

Today was supposed to be the day for the platform to go live with several panels and supplier presentations. I was prepared to cover it. Admittedly the registration process was lengthy, and I did not get any notification e-mails for sessions booked. I also missed any promotion on social media like LinkedIn to prep for the day. I must be in the wrong groups then and/or use the wrong hashtags – but if I missed it, I wonder who else missed it?

Trying to login today I have never seen so many forms for cookies and privacy notes to click through. I also failed to login into the live stream. More logins, more popups, more dead ends but no stream. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I have not been in enough webinars yet …

I spent some time to make it work. The site looks sleek, but I constantly got lost and for every action a new tab pops up. Since my income depends on covering printing industry events, I was prepared to make an effort. Compared to webinars I have listened or presented in previously, this was by a factor more complicated that rivals the Düsseldorf hotel price multipliers during drupa. I wonder what customers whose main line of business is to keep machines running or designing and producing these machines did.

On the website there is a replay of the opening session announced. I might be able to report eventually on drupa or the pain of going virtual.

Covid is proving: print is for kids

In times of generally declining magazine circulations, magazines for kids are doing well. This is according to a report in the Press Gazette. The Week Junior and First News in the UK have seen circulation increases and stable advertising revenues. First News has said order value is up 59% from its 62,000 a week circulation registered last year. For The Week Junior, a spin-off of the condensed news title for older audiences, circulation is up by more than a fifth to 85,000 copies a week. Especially during lock-down parents felt that kids needed to keep engaged and informed. Additionally, it served as an antidote against too much screen time. But it seems that this is not just a short-term effect. Surprisingly, customers are sticking with The Week Junior even though the publisher had anticipated a drop-off after a six-week trial period. This is proving that print is for kids not just in Covid times. Even advertising held up well. Ad spending reduced by companies closing or struggling during lockdown has been replaced by government funded educative ads.

During the pandemic up to now, children’s book sales have been booming as well. The Washington Post reports, that as Covid restrictions increased sales of books for kids boomed through March. Three of the top 12 categories for book sales were aimed at children, according to data from NPD Group, a market research company that tracks book-buying trends. From March through May, as the pandemic kept schools closed, that trend increased dramatically, with half of the 12 top-selling categories catering to kids, including three categories of juvenile non-fiction. Through mid-August, the category with the biggest growth was juvenile non-fiction, up 28 % from last year, while juvenile fiction rose more than 8 %.

Similar is observed in Europe. The German book publisher’s association states that July 2020 revenue from children and juvenile books increased by 7% over July 2019. Cumulative sales of children and juvenile books are 4.2% higher in 2020 than in 2019 despite the period of book shops closures – the only category of books scoring higher than in 2019.

Putting (some) Excitement into virtual events

Yes, we know drupa 2020 has been moved and Covid restrictions mean that there will be no trade shows for 2020 at least. Still vendors want to launch new products and since even open houses are out of question for now the last resort is virtual events. There have been a few in the last couple of months.

There are pundits that extol the virtue of virtual, but I find them somewhat unsatisfying – and I know that I am not alone. There are big differences in the quality of the virtual events as well, in terms of content, presentation and getting the attendants enthusiastic. But the main point is that marketing anything around print, which distinguishes itself as something multi-sensory and tactile, only virtually is a bit dicey.