Does the Printing Industry Need a Bailout?

What do you think?

Some of this country's biggest industries are being pulled back from the brink of financial collapse thanks to what has come to be known as THE BAILOUT. And nowadays, more and more printers are asking, where's my bailout?”

Although not in the spotlight as often as the auto or financial industries, printing is an essential part of the U.S. economy. It just so happens that printing isn't one of those things you notice until you really need, like when you're printing your wedding invitations, or you're starting your own business and need to have your own business card printing done.

But the printers that handle these relatively low volume jobs for small businesses and individuals are not the printers most at risk. People are still printing, especially with printers that offer inexpensive web-to-print and POD services.

The printers that are really suffering are the largest printers that depend on two or three massive contracts for their entire income. With big business scaling back its advertising budget, these printers are losing $500, 000 and $800,000 contracts. A couple of those disappear, and so does your livelihood.

The other major segment of the printing industry that's suffering is newspaper and magazine printing. The rumor mill is insisting that The New York Times is on the edge of going entirely online, and large printers that specialize in magazine and catalogue printing are scaling back. There has, in fact, been talk of bailing these guys out, but at this point, it seems to be just that – all talk.

So will 2009 be the end of the printing industry as we know it? Design Observer declared today that they would begin to chronicle the times ahead under the ominous title, The End of Print. Other bloggers are saying that by the end of the year, everyone will be reading with a Kindle, and the publishing industry will implode.

All this doomsaying insists that printing is possibly going to curl up and die, definitely going to change, and not for the better. The only light that some people seem to see at the end of the tunnel is financial assistance from the government.

But guess what? These are not our only options. At Hotcards, are we wondering where our bailout is?

Hell no!

The future of the printing industry is not going to be determined by a payday from the government. If that were to happen, the bailout would be the thing to fundamentally change the nature of the industry in a negative way.

Printers got unionized in the first place because they were the purveyors of a profoundly democratic medium, and they didn't want the government controlling how or what they produced. If the government did, in fact, bail out the New York Times and other segments of the industry, this part of our heritage would be lost.

Printers are tough, hardworking, and resilient, and we can get through this on our own steam. Just like we've weathered depressions in the past; just like we survived the birth of televised news, we will adapt, and ultimately change in positive ways.

But maybe I'm taling crazy. What do you think? Should the printing industry get a bailout? Does it need one?

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