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PRINT 09: Fast Presses, Slow Show

Despite its low turnout, PRINT 09 had a lot to offer. Here's a look at the offset and digital printing equipment on display in Chicago.

October 2009 By Erik Cagle, Mark Michelson and Bob Neubauer
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TO BE FAIR, the sorry state of the economy made it almost impossible for PRINT 09 to be a rousing success. Show floor traffic was so slow on the opening day (Friday), it was speculated that someone forgot to flip the sign in the front window at McCormick Place from "closed" to "open for business." And one had to question the logic of conducting a long, weekend-wraparound show on the first week of pro football season, when no one (it was presumed) would be coming to Chicago, let alone spending.

The truth of the final analysis pertaining to PRINT 09—as any adept fence walker will tell you—is somewhere in between. And, as any statistician will try to explain, if you have one foot in a bucket of ice and the other in a raging fire...on average, you should be comfortable. Ah, the middle ground can be a dangerous piece of real estate to choose.

Truth of the matter is, some of the 680 exhibitors' booths were hopping on Monday and Tuesday (one exhibitor even reported success on Friday). One vendor told of selling two machines off the floor, and not caring what happened the rest of the show. Yet there were other smaller booths in both the North and South halls that were colder than Soldier Field in December. Overall, more than 18,000 print professionals from 94 countries attended the show.

So was PRINT 09 a success, even giving it a partial pass for being in the wrong economy at the wrong time? In fairness to the promoter, Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC), the show must go on, even in the worst of circumstances. GASC certainly did its part in offering incentives for vendors to bring heavy equipment and in trying to attract visitors through a personalized marketing campaign targeted at specific market segments. Outside of dumping the Friday opener, there was probably not much that could have been done to make the event substantially better.

Strong Focus on Applications

Though the show's emphasis on digital printing was still as strong as it usually is, there was a greater emphasis on applications and business development tools this year, as exhibitors sought to reduce their outlay for equipment at the show. A case in point was the Kodak booth, which contained not a single piece of printing equipment. Instead, various interactive displays, including ones activated by placing a printed sample on a screen, presented information on digital and offset printing applications and the Kodak hardware and software solutions best suited to produce them.



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