It has been several years since I have done a review of printing industry blogs and a lot has changed in the meantime. None of the blogs I reviewed for the January 2007 issue are around any more, but most contributing writers are still adding to blogs somewhere in our industry. Such is the dynamic nature of the blogo-sphere. Here we have an interesting collection of blogs, some are involved directly in the label converting industry while others cover the printing industry as a whole. But they can all help you in your business as they take the pulse of our industry.
Jim Lyons Observations (http://jimlyonsobservations.blogspot.com/)
Jim Lyons is a printing industry veteran with 24 years in business development at Hewlett-Packard under his belt. He is now a writer/blogger/consultant and has one of the most thoughtful printing industry blogs around. If you want a quick read, this blog is probably not for you. His blog posts (or observations, as he calls them) can run well north of 1,000 words. But he posts only once or twice a month, so it is not a big commitment to subscribe. He is obviously a close follower of HP, so you will see commentary on them as well as the digital printing market in general. He also follows very closely the technology that is changing printing with regular commentary on e-books, magazine readers and tools such as the iPad. If you want regular updates from Lyons, he is a frequent user of Twitter and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/jflyons.
Mark Spaulding, also known as the Converting Curmudgeon, is the former editor of the now defunct Converting magazine. He created the Converting Curmudgeon blog while still editor at that magazine andthe blog has continued, now with its own URL. Spaulding provides a useful news summary every working day and will take one or two topics a week and provide an in-depth article. Recently, he discussed a new ICD Research report of the latest factors impacting the packaging-converting business. He also provided an excellent review of the digital technology exhibited at the recent IPEX show. Even though he calls himself the Converting Curmudgeon, I don't find the tone of his blog to be opinionated or ill-tempered as the name suggests.
Print CEO (http://printceo.com/)
Print CEO is part of the WhatTheyThink blog family, and it is likely the most widely read blog in the entire printing industry. It features some heavy hitters as contributing writers; names such as Joe Webb, Frank Romano and Barbara Pellow. It is edited by long time printing blogger Adam Dewitz, who is the director of technology at WhatTheyThink. While the focus is more commercial printing than label printing, I have always found the content here useful. As the name suggests, PrintCEO is for the leaders of printing companies. Recent articles dealt with the changes in labor law at McCormick Place in Chicago, variable data printing sales training, and a discussion on inkjet versus offset printing.
The M-Bossed blog is a bit different. The focus here is on the technology and business practices that are changing the printing industry. It is not news that printing as a whole is a declining industry, and Ryan McAbee, the blog's author, is trying to help businesses deal with this changing world. He talks a lot about social media, QR codes, sustainable printing, and his focus is firmly on the future of the printing industry. McAbee is quite clear that he has a vested interest in all this because he works for a "a leading print vendor" that turns out to be Heidelberg. If you are looking for a relevant printing blog that also deals with social media, M-Bossed fits the bill.
Lean Printing Blog (http://leanprinting.blogspot.com/)
Tom Southworth should be a name that is familiar to most readers of this magazine. He is the author the Printing Lean column and has been teaching the Lean printing gospel now for many years. We all know the importance of embracing Lean Manufacturing principles, but how many label converters can say they have truly made lean printing the guiding force in their company? I am guessing not many. So, if you find his regular column valuable, you should also check out his Lean printing blog, the only blog devoted to Lean printing practices. Lean is all about continuous improvement, so continually reading updates from the Lean printing expert will likely help your business.
Peter Renton is the founder and former co-owner of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is currently doing some blog consulting while attempting to take a career sabbatical after the sale of Lightning Labels.