Back during the dark times, a.k.a. 2009 and 2010, when the economic tsunami seemed to wipe any trace of commerce from the regional magazine scene, I made the “calculated” decision to buy the publishing company I now own and have run for almost twenty years. Those days were, candidly, scary. I wrote more checks than I cashed and all traces of paper (snail mail, catalogues, direct) seemed to vanish. The postal delivery bins shrank to an elastic band around more bills than checks. There were days I swear I could hear Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” in morbid hysteria.
Fast forward to the present and guess what? The digital darkness has given away to some print-centric sunlight. People want print publications again in addition to digital, and custom/contract publishing appears to be an opportunity for many of us in this (regional) magazine sector.
We are finding that many companies eliminated not only the expense of the paper publications, but staff resources as well. Like the Boston Tea Party, they threw it all overboard to weather the storm.
Based on panels I have heard about and attended at the City & Regional Magazine Association (CRMA) and the International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) conferences, custom publishing is experiencing a resurgence as a result. The conversation we have had with institutions large and small is that they are excited and willing to pay for turnkey publishing options and ideas as a way to complement and cut through the endless onslaught of e-communication that fills our inboxes daily.
Regional publishers like San Diego, Diablo and others have successfully built local custom businesses with hospitals and even the local humane society (pet care, of course). We have discovered a local furniture catalogue project, theatre programs (A tablet in a dark theatre? I think not!) and more.
None of us need to ramp up personnel because the talent pool we have is more than willing to lend their support to the cause when appropriate. We do what we do best: publish.
Happy days are here again? Not exactly, but at least that damn raven is quiet.