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"This amounts to a tax on the use of the detach card, and like all taxes depresses revenue and growth."

Jul 13, 2007 12:00 AM

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Mail matters

The Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR) ( predicts that between 2007 and 2008, postal reform and rate increases will remove between 800 million and 900 million catalogs from the mail stream, along with up to 350 million periodicals and three billion pieces of direct mail advertising.

We asked readers for their responses, which we'll present shortly. Responses are about evenly split, but it seems clear there's rough sledding ahead for small publishers (and their printers). John Ovid Bell, CEO of The Ovid Bell Press (Fulton, MO) (OBP), submitted examples of 3602 postage statements for Standard Mail prepared of behalf of two small publications. Both customers face rate increases of 56 percent.

Bell is contacting fellow printers to urge them to follow his lead. He's also working with his local PIA affiliate and American Business Media to publicize this issue. See if you'd like to get in touch with Bell.

If you'd like to share your thoughts with your fellow printers on this topic, please send your comments to me at

Lost business

"The majority of our publications use detach cards rather than addressing the publications as it is an important source of advertising revenue for them.  Over half the revenues from our printing operation are derived from printing these detach cards.  By the USPS placing a 1.5 cent per piece postage surcharge on the use of detach cards when mailing publications, we have lost a huge percentage of our printing business because our licensees have opted to place the addresses directly on the publications rather than pay the increased postage.

"This amounts to a tax on the use of the detach card, and like all taxes depresses revenue and growth.  What the hell are they thinking?  Why can’t they run their business within the parameters of their current revenue stream, rather than running small business into the ground so that their employees can retire at age 55??  Are there any options or action that we can take?" James Phelan, CEO and publisher, The Print Advantage, LLC

Flat postcards not impacted

"For us, there is no hubbub. The rates for the flat postcards that we print have actually gone down. Our customers like that! As I understand it, the rates for oddly shaped items has indeed gone up." Ted Obrecht, Ted's Place (Fort Meyers, FL)

'Straw that broke the camel's back'

"This latest postal increase has been the straw that broke the camel's back for some of our customers, (more so than the Jan 2006 increase  Many of our customers have already made some of the things they used to mail available for download from their Internet site instead. Mailing lists are being trimmed, so we are already seeing print runs that are shorter by 20 percent or more. Many are sending one copy to an address instead of one copy to each individual at that address, and hoping that the recipient will share. Of course, we are making some of these suggestions to help clients save money to help preserve our print runs altogether. We are also moving people away from flat sized mail to save as well.  Several of the organizations we print newsletters for are going to fewer number of issues per year, a couple that were 10 issues per year are now quarterly. One organization went to one printed issue per year the other issues via e-mail.

"These publications have been the regular business that we have counted on over the years. The reductions are going to be felt deeply." David Fannon, Excelsior Printing Co. (Columbus, OH)

Keep your comments coming

"It has been said that print advertising is the most effective media. In light of that, I find the prediction of lost print sales [the PRIMIR study projects for] 2007-2008 hard to believe. Or if it’s true, the states who vote down a 'federal no-direct-mail list' because it would put too many companies out of business are wasting their time as the federal government will do it themselves.

"I hope our company can distinguish itself with our cabability to print on plastic to replace some of the traditional print jobs. I’ve been in printing  aprox 35 yrs and have really seen some changes! I don’t like to see the consolidations and the trend toward real small digital variable data jobs, but printing has been good to our family so I stay with it! 

"I look forward to hearing other printer’s ideas on this." Jay Tewell, Lange Graphics (Denver)