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E-prints still no substitute for paper and ink

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Steve Mussman, a principal and co-founder of reprint vendor PARS International Corp., has almost 25 years of experience in magazine publishing, marketing, and reprint and copyright program management.

Media Business: How much of a surge are you seeing for digital reprints?

Mussman: It's been increasing steadily over the last four or five years. But demand is still not at the point where it has in any way, shape or form surpassed ink on paper. Maybe it's gone from nonexistent five or six years ago to maybe being 5% to 7% of total overall sales today.

But more important, [demand] varies from magazine to magazine and industry to industry. So certain industries are more endemic to seeing things online, and others to print. Both forms are dependent on the end-user.

MB: What are some of the emerging services that reprint vendors can offer to help business publishers build relationships with their advertisers?

Mussman: We make extensive use of the latest technology both in our marketing and sales efforts. For example, many of the materials required to produce today's reprints or other products are accessed via secure VPN [virtual private network] connections that PARS maintains with its key publishing partners, eliminating the need to tie up valuable publisher assets.

Other trends revolve around DRM [digital rights management] and the increasing demand for audio/video content licensing.

MB: What are some of the oncoming trends related to digital licensing?

Mussman: The publishing industry has to make it clear that [companies] can't make photocopies or take an article off a publisher's Web site and put it on their own. A lot of companies do that, but I don't think they do it because they want to get over something but because of ignorance.

Publishers have to provide a lot more education to the consumer—and by consumer I mean the average executive—because people can't use copyright material of their own volition.

Some publishers want their edit and message to get out there, so they might say, "Just let them take the material." But others say, "I paid to have that message and want be paid for it in turn." There are two camps of thought.

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