Bob Sacks to keynote 2009 National Editorial Conference

Meeting set for July 15–17 in Washington, D.C.

On his blog for Publishing Executive magazine, Bob Sacks says he’s “a journalist, a grizzled reporter” and his beat is the media landscape. He also says he is an “avid publishing futurist.”

So true. Just consider these blog titles from past issues of the magazine:

  • “The Publishing Community Will Not Perish”
  • “I Own Every Great Book Ever Written and They Are All in My Pocket”
  • “Why I Don’t Trust PIB’s Ad Revenue Reports”
  • “A Quick Lesson in How to Save the Magazine Industry”
  • “Another Paper Price Increase, Another Reason to Abandon Print?”

But there’s more. This prolific information publisher has an email newsletter, “Heard on the Web”, and his own blog, BoSacks “Heard on the Web” — Media Intelligence, for which he compiles articles from numerous other digital publications about the state of our media. He often comments on the articles. He says (tongue in cheek): “I do not write many of the articles, but have been known to add caustic comments when and where it seemed appropriate.”

As a veteran of the printing and publishing industry since 1970, Bob Sacks is a thinker.

In a recent online discussion about digital publication business decisions, Sacks offered an audacious strategy from his past, similar to what some magazines are now trying.

“I do believe in owning the turf outright,” Sacks wrote. “I once published a unique title that was clearly the best in its field. I started to have competitors and we made an interesting business decision. We started our own second magazine to compete with. It was the second-best magazine in the field. After a while, all the competitors fled the area and we were the only ones left standing. Soon after, we shut down the second title. We owned the turf.”

After several years in the alternative press publishing newspapers in New York and Tucson, he became one of the founding fathers of High Times magazine.

Since then Sacks has been a publisher, editor, freelance writer, director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager, circulator, chief of operations, pressman, cameraman, lecturer, and developer of Web site companies. His résumé lists directorships at Bill Communications (VNU), CMP, International Paper, McCall’s, Time Inc., The New York Times Company’s magazine group, and Ziff-Davis.

Today his firm, Precision Media Group, does private consulting and publishes the daily e-newsletters worldwide to more than 11,500 media industry leaders.

“It is purely a very ‘personal’ and slanted collection of news gathered daily over the Internet, which to me seems relevant and useful about the publishing industry,” he wrote.

“I do this as a labor of love and to keep myself as up to date as is possible with the ever changing and advancing ‘information distribution industry’ formerly known as ‘publishing’.”

And how much does it cost?

“The price for this service is nothing. It is free. It is just as easy for me to copy three or four of my industry friends as it is to carbon copy the current list of 11,500 publishing professionals,” he said.

Sacks is known to be an electrifying lecturer about the media and marketing industries. He frequently discusses the good and bad news about what he calls “El-CID,” or electronically coordinated information distribution. His presentations often cover the technological past, present, and future possibilities for publishing at the digital edge.

Toward this end, Sacks formed a global consultancy last year called mediaIDEAS to provide research and advisory services about the effects of technology on magazine publishing.

In one of its advisories, called TH(ink) NOTEs, Sacks writes, “The integration of technologies like XML, JDF, and PDF-x1a are giving publishers greater access and control over both the production process and manufacturing time.”

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