Having really beefed up my reading volume in the past few months, I find myself starting to spot things about the imaging industry that give me pause. Some things are so obvious – more digital printing in niche industries means less inventory of printed material, printing on demand is the norm, direct to press or plate systems are expanding. In the down economy there is a sense that the heyday of printed documents for the construction industry has seen its day – there will never again be the sort of printing runs of full size construction documents that we saw in the final quarter of the twentieth century. But what forms of visual communications will expand in the coming years?
The signage industry is expecting flat screen electronics to crop up everywhere from elevators to malls. In an uncharacteristic turn the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association welcomed vendors of those devices at their annual Trade Exposition in Las Vegas this year, and there was a definite air of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” in their presence.
I am really interested in the future of Internet providers of specialty graphics – the No Bricks And Mortar crowd that have become such consumer pleasers in the recent years. Even with the digital tools at my disposal I have ordered customer printed novelties (Christmas ornaments, family calendars) through these sites. Reading Printing Impressions today I learned that Shutterfly – social expression and personal publishing site – acquired WMSG, a digital direct marketing provider with strong data, printing and marketing analytics (located in Dallas) to expand their commercial printing business. I wonder how that will work for them.