INTERVIEW: The Recycler's view of the future for publishers
Monday, 11 June 2012 - 11:41am
WNIP: Can you tell us something about The Recycler?
Stefanie Unland: The Recycler was first published in 1992 and is aimed at the toner and inkjet remanufacturing industry. It’s an important industry, not least because of the cost savings but also from an environmental standpoint - every 50 cartridges recycled saves a barrel of oil.
We are the #1 title in the sector and have a worldwide circulation of approximately 4,000ish subscribers. We publish 13 issues a year, that is, one issue every four weeks and an annual subscription is priced at £60. We are based in Witney and have eight employees. Like I said, we’re a highly targeted B2B publication.
WNIP: What’s been your biggest recent challenge?
Stefanie Unland: Unquestionably it’s been the need to make cost savings but, at the same time, retain the production values of The Recycler especially in terms of content. It’s easy to cut the number of pages, less easy to retain a magazine’s quality yet absorb the costs.
We’re not the only publisher to face these issues. Like all publishers we’ve been faced with a huge recession, spiralling paper costs, flat ad revenues not to mention huge postal price increases. It’s been a perfect storm as I’m sure many of your readers will identify with.
WNIP: How have you reacted to this challenge?
Stefanie Unland: We made a managerial decision to uphold the integrity of the magazine and not cut back on pages or content. This meant we had to absorb the costs. This has only been made possible by cutting overheads.
WNIP: So what did you do?
Stefanie Unland: As I said, we knew what we wanted but couldn’t find anything on the market. So we partnered with a software solutions company to develop an ideal solution for a small B2B niche publisher. Our developers took Jonyx, a Java-based system for enterprise workflow, and re-wrote sections of it for our publishing needs and the way we wanted to work.
It meant we could automate all aspects of our publishing, and I stress ‘all’, saving us huge amounts of manpower resource. Within 3 weeks of the system going live we knew immediately that we could significantly reduce our staffing levels. Put it this way, we used to have eighteen staff and now we have 8.
It’s allowed us to continue upholding the quality of The Recycler yet retain our margins, a hugely difficult task in today’s market. I don’t think there is any other way we could have done it. One thing I’d add is that the system also eliminates human (but not my publisher’s) error, something that occasionally crops up in publishing!
Such has been the success of our Jonyx system we’ve been demoing it for several fellow niche publishers. We don’t think there is anything to match it, in fact there’s nothing out
there, full stop.
WNIP: What other ways are you facing up to publishing challenges?
Stefanie Unland: Our website, www.therecycler.com, is important and we’ve spent considerable energy driving traffic to it. The purpose has been to enhance advertising revenues by building a strong online community. We have daily newsletters, product newsletters as well as issue alerts all driving people to our website.
Three years ago we used to be in the top 1 million websites globally, but we’re now bouncing around the 350,000 ranking worldwide, so we’re making good progress.
We also make sure we capture as much data as possible on the website and we manage this data very carefully. We segment the data and analyse it with the aim of refining and improving our offering.
WNIP: Many publishers are uncertain of the future. What are your thoughts?
Stefanie Unland: We think Online TV is going to be huge in the next three to five years and will probably be our main income. To achieve this you need a very strong web platform to support it. We’ve invested in high-end cameras and studio equipment in order to make professional audio visual content.
WNIP: That’s unusual for a B2B niche publisher. Is there demand for Online TV in such a niche space?
Stefanie Unland: Yes. There is demand for daily or weekly news and information programmes on toner and ink jet remanufacturing. It’s a bigger industry than you’d think. A programme might only be a few minutes long but it includes all the relevant news stories for our industry.
We’re testing out all sorts of ways in which we can create high quality content using Online TV. What we’ve found so far is that people like the content, they like to watch it but they don’t want to spend money on it. It might be another few years before it becomes a mainstream technology and we’re able to monetise it with our advertisers.
WNIP: What about your competitors?
Stefanie Unland: We have six or seven competitors worldwide serving various regionalised markets with print and online editions and so the space is competitive. We take a global perspective and have focused on profiling our audience and tailoring the right products for the right audience profile, which is crucial today as you will find our audience in all corners
of the world.
It’s a challenging but exciting time.
WNIP: Thank you for your time today.