Let’s Check in with the Printing Industry

June 11, 2009 by Thad McIlroy

With all of the attention these days focused on newspapers, eBooks and Twittering, I thought it might be time to check in on the printing industry, the background engine for so much of the country’s publishing activity.

My colleague Howie Fenton works at the NAPL, which though not the largest, is I think the finest  trade organization serving printing companies. Amongst its many virtues, the organization has an excellent economist on staff, Andy Paparozzi.

In Howie Fenton’s latest blog entry on Graphic Arts Monthly he points out the the latest NAPL economic research “has both good news and bad news,” although I have to say I’m hard-pressed to find the good news. Howie reports that “according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, total production hours in the commercial printing industry were down 14.2% in the first quarter of this year from a year ago.”

Further, commercial print sales are down by about 15% in the first quarter.

And meanwhile the largest printer in the U.S. (R.R. Donnelley) is actively engaged in trying to take over the second largest print in North America (Quebecor). (Update late June: Quebecor has rejected Donnelley’s offers and is still trying to renogitate with creditors.)

OK, I’m changing the channel now…next up, if the Kindle is selling so well, why was E-Ink Corporation sold at fire sale prices?

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