NPES 2007 Industry Summit

I’m in Chicago for the NPES 2007 Industry Summit, which includes Print Outlook, PRIMIR meetings, and NPES meetings. For those of you who do not work in the printing industry, the purpose of the event is to give printers and suppliers a good idea of what the future holds.

The messages from the various economists and consultants were somewhat repetitive, which is actually a good thing since people mostly agreed on everything:

  • Overall print will grow slightly.
  • Most likely going down a bit in business forms, publications, catalogs and newspaper
  • Up a bit in direct mail
  • Up a big bit in packaging
  • Printers who want to survive will need to adapt, offer more services, and show their customers that print is a viable medium, and help them leverage it
  • Print really is a viable medium for lots of reasons, and we need to show this

I’ve greatly simplified the above, but that is the gist I got. With the internet and other changes in communication and technology, as you might expect there’s a lot of potential change coming in print. There’s already been a lot of change in print. So NPES decided it would be a really good thing to get this event together to educate printers, as they do from time to time.

The messages weren’t very surprising. I’ve heard them before, and I’ve read them before. There was a lot more detail, and a lot more explanation, and of course a lot more opinion.

What was surprising was the audience. Paper companies. Ink companies. Press manufacturers. Lots of journalists and other consultants. One or two printers. I may exaggerate a little, but others confirmed my suspicion that there just weren’t many printers there. It’s my first time at this event, and others didn’t seem surprised at the mix.

I asked if it was a marketing problem, but the response I got was that printers just don’t want to hear the news being given. Is that the case? Or have they just heard them enough they don’t need to hear them again? I hope it’s the former, but I suspect it’s the latter.

[Updated]

Later I asked some more folks, and someone posed another option. Printers are busy, and many aren’t thinking past “next week Thursday” and thus don’t make it to many events like this. Could very well be. Still, even if my company was 50 people I’d like to think the big guy was planning for the future with the best info available.

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