The Printing Industry in 2009

What to except, from the environment to the economy…

Last year, around this time, I put together a retrospective of the greatest moments in printing of 2007. But while I was working on a similar list for 2008, I became much more interested in what's to come in 2009.

Not only are we facing an uncertain economic future, the printing industry is in an extreme state of shift. With that in mind, here's a list of the top ten things to expect from the world of printing in the coming year:


Let's start with the bad news first. According to economic projections made by industry guru Dr. Joe Webb, approximately 1000 printing businesses in the U.S. alone will go out of business in 2009 – a trend that's expected to continue through to 2012, at least.

So that part sucks. But we knew the industry was changing, didn't we? The good news is that businesses who stay fresh and light on their feet can continue to succeed in this rapidly adapting climate.


To stay competitive, industry experts are exhorting printers to be innovative! The father of the printing industry, Johannes Gutenberg, continued to invent printing processes and mechanics until his death, even when he was being elbowed out of his own printing house!

In 2009, printers won't be relying on manufacturers and suppliers for great new products and ideas. Small printers will be developing their own new methods of doing business, and this will go a long way towards revitalizing the industry!


Along these lines, you can also expect to see a lot more personality from printers in the coming months. Just take a look at the most watched printing video of the year from Pazazz Printing.

To be competitive, we have to stand out, and that's why printers will be letting customers and prospective customers see their wackier, funnier, and friendlier sides with videos, blogging, and viral campaigns designed to put their names on the map!


In a similar bid to be competitive, expect to see more and more printers advertising full-service packages of design, printing, web development, and direct mailing. In a world increasingly focused on 'solutions' rather than products, businesses appreciate being able to get all their marketing collateral in the same place.

Hotcards has been doing this for years, and as advertising budgets become increasingly diversified away from print, other printers will follow suit.


Also in response to the demands of business, printers will be finding ways to cut corners for their customers in 2009. While the printing industry is historically unaffected by economic shifts, it is quick to cater to its clientele. So expect rock-bottom pricing, color reduction solutions, and specialty packages offered by printers to optimize their customers' ROI.


As in 2008, expect to see more printers shifting to digital printing systems. Digital printing is seen as a cheap way to do small runs, and to easily create highly customized print campaigns.


Part of the success of digital printers can be attributed to the high demand for personalized, or Variable Date Printing (VDP). Businesses want to be able to finely target their print campaigns to a diverse array of consumers. The best way to do this is by being able to print a run of 10, 000 pieces of printing, each of which carries a special message for the individual recipient.

Printers will be scrambling to cater to this specialized demand in 2009.


Don't worry! No one's going to be forgetting about green printing in the coming year. The biggest trend to watch out for will be printers – particularly the smaller guys, to start – converting to solar and wind-powered energy, as well as geothermal heating and cooling. Because printers often run 24/7, the benefits of converting to green energy solutions are particularly huge for us.


Another green printing trend to keep your eyes peeled for in 2009 is printers creating recycling programs for their customers. Once a customer is finished with a billboard or sign campaign, for example, they will be able to essentially 'return' the printing to their printer for recycling.

Printers may even begin to install in-house recycling facilities, but look for that in the coming years, rather than the coming months.


Most exciting of all in 2009 may be a coming-together of the global printing community. With more and more printers offering print-buying and business communication online, it's natural that there should be increased discourse and interchange of ideas between the industries in North America, Australia, and Europe.

Several conferences in the coming year will bring together printers and suppliers from around the world. As we look for smart solutions to the environmental and economic crises, the best strategy of all may well be to unite and share ideas as much as possible, for the health of the entire industry.

What are you looking forward to (or dreading) in 2009? Tell us about it here!

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Happy 2009


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