Happy New Year to all!

Another year is upon us and with that we can be sure of one thing. Change. That goes without saying, right?

Well, it does if you’re in the trade publication industry.

In the last year (let alone the last 5) we’ve seen some pretty significant changes in the trade publication landscape. As you know, we deal primarily with technical audiences including industrial and manufacturing folks – industries, by the way, which were particularly hard hit by the current recession. The trade publications serving these industries have suffered some pretty staggering casualties, casualties that beg the question – what will become of the industrial/manufacturing trade press?

In one year’s time, we’ve seen the demise of ShopTalk and EDM Today, as well as the demise of printed editions of Tooling & Production, Modern Application News and, most recently, the iconic masthead American Machinist. Needless to say, these are some pretty big changes,not the least of which is the lost voice of these editors, people who have spoken on behalf of US Manufacturing for decades in some cases.

These changes have also affected the return on investment potential of our clients. Put simply, there are now far fewer pages that more people are fighting for. This alone makes things a bit more difficult. Now, in our case, we still have a fighting chance – our clients are leaders in their respective industries and have continued to develop new technology even during these trying times. Meaning, well, they are still newsworthy. But what happens to everyone else?

Is the answer simple? Is it the web?

Tooling & Production, MAN and American Machinist have all relegated their editorial to a virtual environment. No more page turning. No more pass around benefit. No more paper. Is this good or bad? Will today’s engineer respond positively? Perhaps. Perhaps the younger generation of engineers will embrace this new wave of online reading. Perhaps this is a new standard set out of need, but bolstered by practicality.

Truth be told, no one knows. What we do know is that the role of print continues to change. I think the real question is whether this change be an evolution or a redefinition entirely?

We’re not sure. What we do believe is that the strong books will persevere. What we’re anxious to learn is how.

What do you think?

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