Nobody expected it, no grand announcement was made, but now it’s here: “beyondprint unplugged”, the new trade publication in a newspaper format that deals with e-commerce and the transformation of print.
This title was actually long overdue. If you take a closer look at the market for trade journals in the printing and media industry, and analyze what is unnecessary, what could be improved or what is missing, you will quickly come to the conclusion that many trade journals have survived and that they have nothing to say about the most urgent issue, the digital transformation of print.
“Beyondprint unplugged” bridges this gap and at the same time is a declared attempt to make specialized journalism the way it should be. Not a new source of noise in an already noisy environment, but informative, free in its choice of topics and independent in its reporting. “Beyondprint unplugged” is based on all developments (even beyond printing) that are or could be relevant for transforming companies. Print, transformation and e-commerce”, the subtitle of “Beyondprint unplugged” gives an additional indication of the almost inexhaustible variety of topics oriented to the activities of online printing companies. After all, Onlineprint is active in far more markets than traditional print shops: In commercial printing, in newspaper printing, in new business models in the market for packaging and labels, in book-on-demand businesses, in photo books, calendars, fun articles and much more. And from there to the advertising materials it is really not far now.
Although in principle the players in online printing use the same tools, software tools, machines and devices as traditional print shops, they are always used by professional online print shops with a focus on automation and networking.
A far more important aspect can be derived from this fact: Onlineprint is a pioneer in standardization, automation and digital transformation and has therefore become a powerful market player that no one can ignore. Onlineprint in its various forms is a business model of the future that points the way to industry 4.0. This is why the new publication was created in an otherwise increasingly tired trade magazin world.
Have you gone insane?
“Beyondprint unplugged” is a new publication developed for the printing industry. More information about the concept and the background will be given in the following interview.
“beyond-print.de”, Zipper’s opinion blog concerning e-business print and online print is well known. The “Druckmarkt” has also been familiar to many for more than 20 years as a trade magazine for print and finishing. Now the creators of the two publications have entered into a close cooperation and are publishing “beyondprint unplugged”, a completely new medium – a newspaper for print, transformation and e-commerce. Julius Nicolay, editor at arcus verlag, asked the two players, Bernd Zipper and Klaus-Peter Nicolay, for the reasons behind their joint project.
Julius Nicolay: You are both experts in the market – but you are no longer the youngest. What has driven you to publish a new newspaper in times when print media are supposedly out of date and no one wants to pay for information any more – and what is more, a publication in on and for the printing industry?
Klaus-Peter Nicolay: Let’s leave the age aspect aside. However, I know the other question all too well. When I launched the print market in Germany almost 25 years ago and the print market in Switzerland in 2001, everyone asked me whether I had gone mad to enter the saturated trade magazine market with a new product in such a time of crisis. And my answer – then and now: there is always room for reliable expert information in all markets and at all times. Today even more than then. Because despite the Internet, perhaps for this very reason, serious reporting on markets and products as well as the corresponding backgrounds is a scarce commodity.
Bernd Zipper: Right. If I wouldn’t run the blog beyound-print, there would be nothing but advertising on the net. But apart from that, I find the idea of transferring background information and spontaneous opinions from the blog to the medium of print and being able to present them more broadly to the public fascinating. In the blog I can change or update something at any time, in the newspaper it stands as if carved into stone.
Julius Nicolay: Nevertheless – isn’t everything that happens in the print media already sufficiently covered in the established trade magazines or in their newsletters?
Bernd Zipper: Not at all. The background for the new medium is the massive changes in the industry. They are not fundamentally different topics from those that we have already addressed in our media. But the really relevant, the burning questions of today are focusing more and more on the digital transformation of print shops into companies where printing can only be understood as a part of the big picture.
That’s why even a modern trade magazine can no longer view products or solutions in isolation but has to classify them. It is important to find out for whom which products are suitable, how they can be integrated into an automated workflow and whether the products can be part of a digital strategy. Magazines of old design and structure, which only quote the desired target group of the providers, do not offer such assessments. They must be completely redesigned if they are to reach their readers.
Julius Nicolay: And that’s what you’ve done now?
Klaus-Peter Nicolay: I think so. In our analysis of what needs to be improved in publications for the industry, we took a close look at all the German-language trade journals and found that although some of them reported competently and comprehensively, this was no longer sufficient under the aspects mentioned by Bernd. Print 4.0 also changes the task for specialized editors. They have to abandon their role as chroniclers and reporters and be redesigned.
Especially as there is something else to be added. So far, segments such as advertising materials, textiles, décors and signs that have tended to be “outside the industry” have become part of the printing industry as a result of new technologies and online printing. Consistently thought through to completion, this radically expands the tasked assignment for the editorial offices. Especially in the evaluation of technologies and the importance of online printing as the driving force behind standardized and industry-4.0-capable productions, a vacuum has been created in the established trade press. With “beyondprint unplugged” we want to fill this with new life.
Julius Nicolay: Is that why we have the subtitle “Print, Transformation and E-Commerce”?
Bernd Zipper: Exactly.
Julius Nicolay: Nico, but you’re giving up the name “Druckmarkt” for that?
Bernd Zipper: Let me take over. Nico and I have had the vision for quite some time to communicate our expertise to the English-speaking world, because you can find experts not only in England or the USA, but also in Germany. Beyondprint unplugged will soon also be available in English – as a PDF. The title “Druckmarkt” wouldn’t do so well there. And certainly not if you take a closer look at the terminology. “Beyond” means ” over and above”. This is exactly what the new newspaper offers: information on print and beyond. And the term “unplugged”, borrowed from music, is intended to underline that printed media also function without electricity. Because beyondprint unplugged is conceived as a printed medium that can be read everywhere.
Klaus-Peter Nicolay: beyondprint unplugged is published by arcus-Verlag, which previously published Druckmarkt and is now also responsible for the new publication. But neither the blog beyond-print nor Druckmarkt are history. Both live on in and alongside the new publication. The blog continues to publish its opinions and comments independently on the Internet, and the Druckmarkt concentrates on topics that we once called the Druckmarkt Collection. But time will tell how it all develops. When our new project comes to fruition, we’ll take a look.
Julius Nicolay: And why should it be successful right away?
Klaus-Peter Nicolay: Because we are pursuing a clear goal: To make specialized journalism what it once was. What always fascinated me was that at the end of the 19th century, the British Financial Times had adopted the motto “Without fear and without favour” – without fear and without favour – and had thus clearly described the task of journalism in brief words. For me, this means that the public media inform the population in order to support them in their formation of opinion and to enable them to make good decisions for the common good. We as specialized media must accompany the decision-makers in our industry and help them to make sustainable decisions and investments as a neutral source of relevant information.
Beyondprint unplugged has precisely fulfilled this requirement and wants to distinguish itself as a quality medium for the industry. To achieve this, we will put a lot of work into even the smallest of article.
Bernd Zipper: That’s exactly what Nico is doing. As editor, I will be looking over his shoulder. No, seriously: beyondprint unplugged is not meant to be a new source of noise, but to offer orientation. Beyondprint unplugged is conceptually designed for independent reporting on current market events and all relevant topics around online printing. The reporting will sometimes be critical, but in any case, informative and only oriented to topics that are considered relevant and worth reporting by the editorial staff. We analyse and document, research independently, weigh issues and do not shy away from judgement. This should actually be what the market expects from a modern specialized medium.
Julius Nicolay: Apropos medium: The new sheet is produced in newspaper printing and in a size different from the DIN format. Why is that?
Bernd Zipper: Production in newspaper printing should send a signal: The newspaper as a medium is alive! And a newspaper is verifiably the most trustworthy of all media. What’s more, in newspaper printing today we can offer a quality that comes close to sheetfed offset. And the format, which goes beyond the DIN A4 range, symbolizes our conviction that the companies in our industry must take action beyond their previous format.
Julius Nicolay: Your new newspaper is actually a cooperation model. Do you anticipate more from it than from the traditional models?
Bernd Zipper: Yes. Anyone who knows the TV cooking show Kitchen impossible knows that there are two prominent chefs competing against each other to determine the person who is the best in their respective situation. We do exactly the opposite. It may sound arrogant, but with beyondprint unplugged, two of the best industry experts are competing together to revive print and its environment and hopefully strengthen it in this way. From new perspectives, with probably extraordinary ideas, with detailed interviews and reports as well as with the knowledge where the industry needs tips, background knowledge and orientation.
Klaus-Peter Nicolay: But again, back to your question with our age. Yes, we’re not young anymore, but unfortunately there’s no new generation growing up in the trade press category of Print. So, the old ones have to get back at it. Maybe younger colleagues will also find it fun.
Julius Nicolay: Thank you very much for the interview. Personally, I am curious how the project will develop.