Much of the 2007 Primex conference focused not on cutting edge digital production technologies but instead on the mounting environmental pressures on magazine publishing, from both cost and from environmental groups.
In order to boost profits, the meeting floated the idea of reducing basis weights 8 to 15 percent and cutting in half the number of different trim size variations.
The idea was met with opposition by some of the audience, including one attendee from Condé Nast who attributed the success of Teen Vogue in part to high production standards. "The other teen magazines imploded because they didn’t know what teens wanted," he said. "Teen Vogue used 45 pound, #4 paper, which is a brighter, whiter sheet of paper than what some of the other magazines were using. It’s content plus physical appearance of magazine that ties it all together. We have to differentiate ourselves from other media. The only thing we have is the physical product."
After shifting select titles from 35 to 25 pound paper in 2005, Time Inc. has increased paper grades to 30 weight this year, according to Guy Gleysteen, vice president of paper and digital development. Still, Gleysteen recognized the need for the industry to make changes. "It’s most important for us to be doing these things so others don’t set the tone for us."
Trim size shouldn’t be the distinguishing factor, according to Primex conference chair and American Express Publishing vice president of manufacturing and technology Tom Fox. "The difference is still in the design, the editorial, the photography, etc. We shouldn’t be talking about what we should do if environmental groups attack us, we should be setting the tone now."