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Saving costs: 5 minutes with… Steven O’Hara

Keeping tight control of your cost base is more important than ever, especially for independent publishers. We ask Publishing Hub’s Steven O’Hara for his thoughts on how publishers can save money.

By Steven O’Hara

Saving costs: 5 minutes with… Steven O’Hara

Q: What is the outlook for independent publishers?

A: The landscape for independent publishers remains challenging, with magazines having to maintain their foothold against a backdrop of escalating costs and pressures on key revenue streams such as newstrade, subscriptions, and advertising.

However, the agility of independent publishers can enable them to swiftly pivot, adapt and innovate. This agility is key, allowing for rapid improvement and adjustment in response to market conditions.

It is imperative for independent publishers to undergo a thorough review of their operational practices and costs. Opportunities for cost-saving measures and untapped revenue streams often lie within the nuances of their operations. This review can unearth savings that give much needed improvements to their bottom line.

One example of this is what opportunities can be opened up through diversification. Exploring alternative revenue streams beyond traditional magazine formats opens new horizons. For instance, venturing into the creation of ‘bookazines’ by leveraging existing content.

Additionally, repurposing such content into standalone books presents an opportunity to expand the publisher’s footprint and engage with a wider readership.

While challenges persist, independent publishers possess the flexibility and creativity necessary to navigate and thrive, as long as costs are controlled, and opportunities explored.

Q: Where, typically, can cost savings be made in magazine printing?

A: This is the question you should be asking your printer; printers know their machines and they know the most efficient pagination, size and finish to give you the best price.

No two printers are exactly alike in their setup and the options they offer, so seeing what’s on offer across the marketplace can be beneficial. But ask your printer what the most efficient product is that they can produce, which is close to your current format, and you may be surprised by how much can be saved through making small manageable changes to your current set up.

In addition, printers are not always busy; magazines follow a pattern that makes certain weeks busier than others – you can sometimes therefore find a slot in the monthly calendar that is cheaper than the one you have. You won’t know until you ask.

Q: What are cost effective ways of reducing paper costs?

A: There are a few areas to review here – particularly weight, type and size of paper. Starting with weight, substantial savings can be made by exploring different alternatives. Paper types are becoming less abundant but check with whoever buys your paper to see what the options are, get some samples and see if they would work for you. You could even adjust the size of your products with the advice of your printer and paper supplier; real savings can sometimes be made through relatively minor changes.

Q: What potential is there for making cost savings in magazine mailings?

A: There are many suppliers in this area, all using their scale to get the very best prices from Royal Mail, who ultimately make the final mile journey for all of them. It is a simple cost model – volume and weight – so the bigger the volume the better rate card you get, which is based on weight. See who is out there and look at what you can do to make your deliveries more cost effective.

Q: Are you optimistic about the future of print, and if so, why?

A: For sure, magazines are here and will be long into the future. The trick is to get those costs lines down, review them at least twice a year so that you can focus your time on the revenue lines. Collaborate with other publishers, create a network of trusted industry professionals that you can bounce ideas off. Every pound overspent is a revenue pound you need to find.

Q: What’s in the pipeline from Publishing Hub?

A: In 2024, the Publishing Hub is dedicated to evolving into a reliable resource where small to medium publishers can access competitive pricing. After years of negotiation, we’ve curated a selection of the best prices for the benefit of the publishing community. In today’s landscape, there’s a growing need to leverage scale for the sake of the growing number of publishers whose revenue is under pressure. Moving forward, our focus is on reaching out to publishers far and wide to identify opportunities where we can provide support and assistance.

About us

Our mission is to provide a comprehensive platform for magazine publishers, offering unparalleled access to our expertise and economies of scale. At Publishing Hub, we understand the challenges faced by publishers in today’s competitive landscape. Hence, we have designed a one-stop solution to review and optimise your cost base, with a particular focus on: Remit, Print, Paper, Production, Finishing, and Mailing.

We will work with you to identify opportunities for enhancing your cost efficiency and operational excellence. We aim to streamline your processes, improve resource allocation and ultimately help you achieve greater profitability and sustainability in the industry.

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