I told myself no more health insurance commentary – but bureaucracies in action are such easy targets. So, as a change of pace, let’s talk about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The law was passed for a good reason – keeping lead out of toys. Yet, because of the way it was written, it affects the publishing and printing industry since certain products (books, menus, etc.) are specifically designed to be used by children.
Beginning on February 10, 2010 if a printed product does not meet certain exemption criteria , it will have to be tested. Another complexity is that testing must be done by an accredited third-party laboratory – and the government at this time has yet to issue accreditation guidelines for testing certain contents found in books. Oh, did I mention that some of the third party labs are so overwhelmed with similar testing that it could take months to receive a certification? Now that I’ve set the table, let me share a solution that Chip Snyder, a 3rd generation printer with ColorDynamics in Allen Texas, has created to solve this dilemma. Continue reading
In a recent article to his clients, marketing consultant Dick Gorelick noted how it is difficult to ascertain what is truly happening to the industry. He showed that certain parts of the newspaper industry (metro areas) are suffering while others (suburban newspapers) are doing very well. He contrasted the reduced circulations of “Businessweek,” “Fortune,” and the bankruptcy of “Reader’s Digest” with the growth of the “Food Network” magazine from 300,000 to over 1 million in one year. Continue reading
Obfuscate. Merriam-Webster defines the word as “to make obscure” as in to darken or confuse. I like Wikipedia’s definition, which reads, “Obfuscate is the concealment of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, intentionally ambiguous, and more difficult to interpret.” It seems to be the word du jour, since no one really wants to tell, or hear, reality any more.
Case in point is some of the recent forays of Xerox and HP into the “document management” arena. When cornered by the print media, the responses are couched in phrases which in so many words say – trust us.
Let’s be candid. These companies are in the business of document management. This means they are in the business of creating the box that produces the document or the software which manages it. If we think that they’re going to stop selling hardware to end users because it’s unfair to printers – think again. And if we think that organizations like NAPL/NAQP or Printing Industries of America can put a stop to it, it ain’t going to happen. And it’s not about loss of revenue dollars that both organizations garner from endorsement arrangements. To use the Texas parlance, “it’s bidness.”
It would be nice to hear from the leadership of these companies that their business is the document business and they serve both producers and users. In the short term it may hurt one group more than the other, but in the long term it will help these companies grow their business and provide a product which their customers’ desire. It’s the plain ugly truth about business – especially in today’s world of digital media.
Thus, it’s time to either fight them or join them — and the latter may be more survivable. By joining them, I mean study the business model which companies like Standard Register, Affiliated Computer Services, Xerox, etc. are using. The vast majority of our print community can not replicate those type of enterprise services, but maybe they can be replicated in some simpler form to service smaller companies, which will be ignored by the larger corporations. It’s the way to survive. If we think that we can continue to “just be a printer,” our days become quickly numbered. If we see ourselves as a document provider (I’m not using the word “print”), then a whole world of opportunity opens up. So, let’s not obfuscate. Let’s call it like it is. Print IS going away, but it’s not going to disappear. We just have to determine where the cheese is going to be.
OK, here I am on my insurance wagon again. And I think that I’ve come a full 180 on one issue — public insurance. I’m still not a fan of the “spin” many are putting on this program, but I’m beginning to think that a public insurance plan may be the least of the evils presently facing small business. Continue reading
Last week was a travel week, which means I spent time in airports. They are not one of my favorite places, but there are lessons to be learned and shared. I was sitting at Love Field in Dallas on a wet, rainy, fall day. I was headed to Lubbock and weather was not making it easy. My flight has been delayed twice and departure was going to be two hours later than planned. Yet, things were not boring. I was being entertained by a lady re-living the ‘glory’ days of WWII and regaling her audience of fellow octogerians with stories of her husband. As she sat in her wheelchair, she easily spoke of POW camps and her husband being shot down in 1943. It’s amazing how time blurs the edges of life. She was able to tell entertaining stories about an era where the entire world was at war and millions were being killed. I wonder how WWII would have been fought if our parents and grandparents had today’s methods of communication – but that’s another whole subject.
We are presently facing extraordinary economic times and many want us to think that the world as we know it is rapidly coming to an end. Yet, when you consider the adversity the “Great Generation” faced, or the situations our young men and women face on their third or fourth tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, things become a bit clearer. It ain’t all that bad.
So, as we approach the end of 2009 and look forward to a new year, let’s keep things in perspective. 2010 may or may not be the kind of year we’d like, but when you compare it to spending time in a POW camp or living through a time when 25% of our nation was unemployed. It’s going to be a good year.