Green Printing

Is the Print Industry Too Protective of its Secrets?

And how, maybe, this recession could turn into a good thing…

WhatTheyThink just held their Environmental Innovation Awards, in which printers could apply to be recognized for their eco-mindful changes and contributions. As a follow-up, this week GoingGreen is interviewing each of the winners. Although the focus is eco-friendly printing, what these folks have to say has applications throughout the printing and print design industry.

But I'm not actually talking about green printing, per se.

What struck me as I listened to these interviews is how interviewees across the board expressed a frustration at the lack of communication between members of our industry. To move forward in terms of green innovation, they said, we have to share ideas and communicate!

Could it be?Are printers secretive?

Ironic that one of the hubs of the communications industry could have that problem! But the more I think about it, the more I find it to be true. Throughout our history, most of us in this industry have been so niche-oriented, and so competitive, that we haven't been sharing ideas that couldn't be patented and sold. Even print designers seem reluctant to open up dialogue with printers and with each other.

Maybe this is because we're all nervous about other companies stealing our ideas and trade secrets. Maybe not. But ultimately, the why of it is irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is whether or not this secretive bent is hurting our industry, and what we're going to do about it.

The good news is that things are already changing. Sites like WhatTheyThink, and, of course, the fabulous Hotcards blog, have become massive priting industry sounding boards, and dialogue about green innovation and sustainable design is growing every day. But this trend requires a power boost forward. We all need to get involved in the conversation, and maybe, just maybe, our industry will become stronger for it.

At this point, we've pretty much agreed that a lot of the old ways of doing print business aren't working so great anymore. If we change with the times and become an open, communicative industry – as are most of the successful web industries – I think there's a good chance we could find ourselves developing stronger strategies and making better investments.

Finally, I have to wonder if this change isn't happening, at least in part, because of the frustration created by this recession. It's terrible that a mini economic meltdown would have to occur to get us talking, but maybe if this open dialogue bears fruit, we'll find it to have been a surprisingly beneficial result of a down period.

Printers, print buyers, print designers, get talking! I know you're out there, let me know what's on your mind!


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