Printing newspapers out of market isn't a new concept, but a Miami-based vendor contends it's time for publishers to take a fresh look at the model.
The supplier, PressTerra, said it can help newspapers find economical outlets through which they can print their product out of market through its publication management service.
PressTerra has found partner print sites for some 40-plus titles, the bulk of those in Lisbon, Portugal, according to President and Chief Executive Officer Jerri Palmer.
"We take publishers and find print sites for them," she said. "We do the conversion (of files) and make sure we find a distributor close by or that has a printer on-site. If that distributor has a digital printer then they have hands-on capability to say how many of each paper they can print."
PressTerra most recently found digital printing outlets for titles including Al Jazeera of Saudi Arabia and Belgium's Vers l'Avenir.
Palmer views her company's service as a pathway for newspapers to break the mold.
"It's a win-win because the publisher is really taking no risk - there are no distribution demands," Palmer explained. "The distributor prints what he needs and sells it and the publisher gets a royalty based on what sells."
The magic number for digital printers is somewhere around 700 copies, according to Palmer, in terms of speed, time and profitability.
Growing circ numbers
Printing out of market gives publishers a way to grow their circ numbers and ad dollars when their own market is saturated.
The Los Angeles Times and Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of Germany are among the publishers that have grown circ numbers by printing in Lisbon, Palmer said. PressTerra is printing about 50 extra copies of WAZ each day currently, and Palmer said that number is growing, particularly at certain times of the year.
"A lot of newspaper publishers haven't thought about changing their ways and the models are very old and then what happens, too, is the ABC hasn't revamped the standards to demand ad dollars - for example, maybe their business section is a lot more popular than another section," Palmer said. "If you have great international sales then why can't you have international ad dollars? Publishers need to think beyond that standard business model."
Palmer has seen most of the digital vendors' presses in action, including those from Agfa, Océ, Screen and Kodak, and although they all get the job done, she said vendors need to adapt the machines to be more compact and faster.
"It's got to be able to fit in a distribution warehouse in a corner somewhere," she said. "They are going to have to get down to a reasonably-priced system and get a Hunkeler (finisher) that finishes as fast as it prints."
Profitability increases with machines that can run all the time and partner print sites want to have a press that can do other jobs as well as the newspapers. Successful sites, Palmer said print newspapers up to a certain time of day and then also print other products.
There are still time obstacles that need to be resolved in out-of-market printing, Palmer said, including in Asian countries that awake first and need to get a paper from L.A. or New York.
"There is no way you can have Day A papers by 9 a.m. in some areas. For instance, Australia time - there is no way - so to me, it's an entire mindset in publishing and advertising that has to change," Palmer said. "I think people are going to start to demand it - it's going to be pushed by consumers."
Palmer said brand loyalty is another factor driving the out-of-market model. Despite the availability of national publications like USA Today and The New York Times in the United States, she said there are still people that are extremely loyal to their own paper.
"People are extremely loyal to The Miami Herald, for example, and if they travel outside of Miami, they still want The Herald," she said. "So in the U.S. you have to break down people in certain areas. When British people travel, they go for The Times of London - it's the overall state of newspapers."
PressTerra's model works in two ways, aiming its service at distributors who know which papers they want to print and to publishers that have specific geographic areas in which they want to print and distribute.
Where e-editions fit in
Palmer said PressTerra's service doesn't necessarily compete with digital editions and that e-editions will still be popular with readers on the go and for publishers looking for ways to digitally archive their information.
Both models, she said, can attract advertising dollars.
"Publishers need to approach it as something we have to do - we need to be on the forefront of this - maybe a (printed) newspaper is in synergy with digital."
She warns, however, that some digital models currently available can devalue a newspaper's content.
"A publisher's intellectual property is their actual value, so how are newspapers benefiting from these models. Is their royalty being bastardized?" she asked. "We look at the whole solution and how to implement it and make it work to maximize profit."
By printing an actual paper remotely, Palmer said newspapers can receive royalty payments for anything they sell and also post numbers that can be tracked by circulation audit agencies.
"If you're going to do something, make money at it," she said. That's your goal as a newspaper - to care and guard your intellectual property and make money off of it."
PressTerra at a glance
Newspaper titles available for on-demand printing through PressTerra include 24 Heures, Al Jazeera, De Morgren, De Standaard, Die Presse, Ekstra Bladet, El Nuevo Herald, Evening Standard, the Globe and Mail, La Presse, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald. Politiken, the Wall Street Journal Asia, the Washington Post, Vers l'Avenir, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.
In addition to the print site in Lisbon, PressTerra works with more than 30 partner print sites including those in Sydney; Singapore; Dubai; Istanbul, Turkey; Moscow; Munich, Germany; Geneva; London, Toronto; Madrid, Spain; Cancun, Mexico; and Kingston, Jamaica. U.S. partner sites include those in New York; Washington D.C.; Miami; Detroit; Los Angeles and Troy, Mich.