Retailers to Publishers: Re-Embrace Print

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 10/30/2013

I just got back from Distripress Toronto, where about 600 delegates from almost 60 countries met to discuss the state of the business and their place in the business.

via Audience Development - October 16, 2013

The past week has been, for me, quite remarkable.

I just got back from Distripress Toronto, where about 600 delegates from almost 60 countries met to discuss the state of the business and their place in the business.

On the way back through the Toronto airport, I waited at the gate where lovely bright workstations provided plenty of places for everyone to plug in their laptops and phones and power up. Ipad stations were set up for travelers, use and tables were set with cutlery and glasses so hard-working commuters could take a break. This lovely oasis of comfort is courtesy of airport retailer OTG, which claims to be reinventing airports and reinventing print at the same time.

I saw no reason to doubt those claims.

The Distripress Congress of International Press opened with Forum Day, where industry experts from the US, Canada, Norway, the UK, Germany, and elsewhere discussed the convergent roles of print and digital and retailers joined a panel, chaired by Lisa Scott of PBAA, to weigh in on what they see happening in our business, and what its biggest challenges might be.

It was at the Forum Day where I had another remarkable experience. I saw retailers trying to sell the value of magazines to the publishers.

At Lisa's panel, OTG, WalMart Canada, and Narvessen Norway each told the group something in different ways: you need to re-commit to your medium. There is life and breath in print, and there is potential to grow. But as long as print, and particularly newsstand, is seen as a slightly-embarrassing poor relation, unwelcome and possibly moribund, that potential will not be realized.

According to Curtis Packer, Director of Press Promotion at OTG, print is the most robust, most profitable category in his stores, driving 30 percent of the sales and profits. Rebecca Clark of WalMart Canada said her biggest challenge was overcoming publishers, negativity, as reflected in the trade press and the tepid response to meetings. "There is a lot we can do together," she told the group. "Ways we can identify opportunities and grow potential."

But, she said, "I need the publishers to show up."