I was perusing the Wall Street Journal this morning while waiting for my desktop to finish waking up and read two articles that piqued my interest. One dealt with how manufacturing is making a comeback in the U.S., and the second was an op-ed piece on the cost of textbooks.
As I always attempt to do, I looked to see how print fits into these discussions and found some nuggets worth exploring.
The manufacturing article dealt with the inevitable cycle of business – what was once a good idea has become old-news as time and competition change the playing field. In regards to manufacturing, China no longer has the upper hand due to low wages as its labor costs have begun to increase. On top of that there are a variety of issues including transportation time, and controlling the product which have opened the door for innovative U.S. manufacturers. Manufacturers who embrace automation, efficiency and logistics control. Although the print community has not been devastated by over-seas competition, the need to become more efficient and embrace automation is continuing to ripple throughout the industry. And that’s a good thing.
The other article dealt with supply, demand and how publishers have been able to increase the price of books dramatically (did cost of printing go up during this period – I don’t think so). As the article stated, since 1985 the price of consumer goods have doubled, but the price of a text book has gone up six-fold. Which brings me to the need for print providers to start thinking of ways to control their destiny – which is a trend we are starting to see as firms move up stream in marketing and downstream into mail and fulfillment. If you take it a step further, look at the model of the print management firms who have successfully helped “manage” their clients print procurements. Thus the print provider is much more than just a supplier and have carved out a profitable niche.
One last thought. The first article was focused on how “Made In America” is making a comeback. So, let’s keep working to make sure that “Printed In America” continues to be a viable option!