Do You Use Your Printer for More Than Printing?
Are you up-to-date on everything the modern-day printer can do? When engaging with your printer, it may be time to move beyond paper and ink.
By Grace Keyes
"Technology is the way of the future.” You’ve heard this before. Books, journals, newspapers, and magazines are now all digital. Many companies offer mobile apps, e-books, digital catalog creation, and interactive print design. So why wouldn’t your printing company join in the fun and offer these digital services? Guess what — they probably do!
Today, printing companies offer so much more than traditional printing. More and more printing companies have evolved into full-service printing and publishing solutions providers, not only offering printing services, but also e-books, apps, sales and marketing support, website services, association management services, and more.
To find out just what the modern-day printer’s business model looks like, I connected with Joanna Gillette, sales manager at Allen Press, and asked her about the diverse service portfolio Allen Press offers, how they are staying current in the market, and more. Gillette has been with Allen Press since 2006 and began her tenure in account management. In 2010, she became product marketing manager, focusing mainly on peer review, online publishing, and association management services. In this role, she also organized and hosted Allen Press’ annual Best Practices and Innovative Solutions webinar series and served as editor for the Allen Press newsletter FrontMatter.
Gillette began serving as sales manager in 2016 and oversees a team of six sales executives. In addition to Association Media & Publishing, Gillette is also a member of the Council of Science Editors, Society for Scholarly Publishing, and American Society of Association Executives.
Sidebar: Tell me a little about Allen Press.
Gillette: Allen Press was founded in 1935 as a small letterpress commercial print shop serving the local area. In the early 1950s, Allen Press began printing a scientific journal called The Wilson Bulletin. This early partnership generated an interest in Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) and Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) publishing that not only drove the direction of our press technology toward periodicals, but also served as the impetus for the development of the broad range of non-print services we offer today.
Allen Press is a full-service printing and publishing solutions provider, offering online submission and peer review services, copyediting and managing editing, typesetting and design, online publishing, advertising sales, journal and society marketing, and association management services.
Sidebar: As your market changes and some associations and other publishers move away from traditional printing, how are you finding ways to re-invent what you do and stay current in the market?
Gillette: Print runs continue to shrink for many publishers, but most are actually publishing more content than ever. That means there is an increasing focus for printers on other services like composition, editing services, online submission and peer review services, and online journal hosting platforms. It also means investing in digital printing technologies that are better suited for short-run or even on-demand printing.
This market has seen a lot of changes in the last 10 years, and journal publishers, for example, are still struggling to cope with the realities of open-access publishing and shrinking library subscriptions that threaten the solvency of their journals. Some services like ad sales, journal and society marketing, association management, and co-publishing are aimed at helping these association publishers continue to manage their business and even support additional revenue streams.
On the other hand, in trade and commercial publications, print is actually growing. That means that in addition to adopting digital technologies, printers must continue to invest in web technology. Allen Press is in the process of installing a new, high-volume, multi-color offset web press right now. The installation has been a fascinating process to watch, and there is a lot of excitement in the air.
Sidebar: How long have you been offering the more contemporary services like e-books, association management, and advertising sales?
Gillette: We added association management services in the mid-1980s. A lot of publishers were struggling to maintain subscription and fulfillment services in-house. Especially in scholarly and professional societies, "subscriber” often equated to "member,” and it soon became clear that there was a need for a more comprehensive approach that involved not only maintaining subscriber information and executing renewal campaigns, but also supporting the strategic goals of association publishers through association management.
Because we recognized early on the significant role that the Internet would play in STM publishing, we began hosting online journal websites in the mid-1990s and added peer-review services around the same time. Journal and society marketing, e-book distribution, and digital magazine hosting were all developed within the last six years.
Sidebar: Are most printing companies starting to offer a variety of services other than printing?
Gillette: There are a few printers that offer full-spectrum publishing services that are built around print. We’ve seen a lot of printers branching out into services like digital magazine platforms, marketing and analytics, and subscription management.
Sidebar: What are some of your best-selling services?
Gillette: Print is still our best-selling service, and we’re continuing to grow that business. Composition services are next in line, followed by online publishing, and peer review.
Bottom line is there’s so much more to printing companies than just traditional printing. From e-books to website services to marketing and sales support, your printer could serve as an extremely valuable resource for your association. My advice after interviewing Allen Press? Be sure to ask your printer for a complete list of their services. They could very well offer a much broader portfolio of offerings than you realize.
Grace Keyes is marketing communications coordinator at the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a member of Association Media & Publishing’s Content Creation Committee.