Bindery Line Moves to New Frontiers

By Frichtl, Paul | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, February 1988 | Go to article overview

Bindery Line Moves to New Frontiers


Frichtl, Paul, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Bindery line moves to new frontiers

Bindery-line technology is ready to turn the corner. For the past several years, only a handful of major magazines has gone to the expense of experimenting with selective binding systems, co-mailing and ink-jet addressing. But now, rising postage costs and advertiser demand for finer targeting are pushing bindery-line innovations into the mainstream, say publishers and printers.

In fact, a number of smaller-run publishing companies, including Petersen Publishing, Boy Scouts of America and the American Medical Association, have begun co-mailing their own titles. Others, such as Goldhirsh Publishing, are working with their printers to find mailing partners. All are also exploring the marketing opportunities created by selective binding, ink-jet printing and polywrapping.

"The bindery line is the current and the future frontier of competition," says David Bordewick, magazine group marketing manager, R. R. Donnelley & Sons.

Paul Mack, president, Mack Printing, agrees, adding, "The bindery area is probably the area of greatest technical advancement and efficiency improvement we'll be looking at in 1988 and '89."

That's a change in attitude from the past several years, during which bindery-line investments posed a Catch 22: Because publisher interest in bindery-line innovations was weak, printers had difficulty justifying expensive equipment purchases. And without printer demand, equipment development was slow and costly.

Now, however, as pioneering magazines, especially newsweeklies, work their way from one technology to the next, smaller publishers are beginning to take advantage of the developments. "In most cases, it's going to be a paying proposal," says Mark Ryan, vice president, Maxwell Communications Corp., adding that postal savings, more tightly targeted audiences and enhanced deliverability will more than compensate for the expense of using bindery innovations.

Coordinating publishers is next step

Co-mailing, which allows publishers to save on postage costs and mail more efficiently, is one primary area of focus on the bindery line. Although few printers have co-mailing systems in operation, says Janet Serra, manager of manufacturing operations, Hearst Magazines, most printers are either experimenting with or researching co-mailing technology.

Co-mailing is an off-line process that combines different issues-- independent titles or demographic editions--into a common mail stream. By combining mailings, publishers can qualify a greater portion of each title's mailing for presort discounts.

The key to co-mailing is sophisticated list manipulation, which allows a fulfillment house or printer to merge two or more lists into an optimum mailing sequence. Recently developed standards, the Digital Data Exchange Specifications, allow subscriber lists of differing computer formats to be translated into a common master file that drives the bindery operations.

Petersen Publishing Co. already co-mails in one run Hunting, Motorcyclist, Motor Trend, 'Tenn and Dirt Rider. With a total mailing of about a million copies, the company saves as much as $20,000 per run on carrier route presort discounts alone, says Joseph Pupius, Petersen's director of systems and programming.

Combining titles of multiple publishers, however, is the greatest hurdle in making co-mailing a common process for magazine publishing. Not only must mailing schedules coincide, but publishers must place a certain amount of faith in the printer to allow proprietary subscriber lists to be merged with those of other companies.

Nonetheless, the financial incentives seem to outweigh the risks, says Bordewick. "All [publishers] have the same thing to deal with: a 10 percent to 18 percent increase in postage costs. That says they're going to have to do some tall figuring."

Inc., for instance, has asked its printer, Quad/Graphics, to help coordinate a co-mailing with other publishers, says Betty Lou Edwards, manufacturing director, Goldhirsh Publishing. …

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