The PAGE Cooperative voted last week to expand its membership eligibility beyond the association’s long-standing, independently-owned, newspaper-only requirement to now permit newspapers of all ownership categories, as well as commercial printers, to become members of the highly respected buying cooperative.
Celebrating its 35th year, PAGE Cooperative, the acronymic namesake for ‘Publishers Associated to Gain Economy’, is recognized as one of the largest buyers of newsprint in the United States and one of the leading buying resources for print-related software, ink, printing plates, and supplies. The vote, cast by its newspaper members, was acknowledgement that the distinction between publicly and privately held newspapers is no longer relevant, according to Brandon Eyerly, PAGE Cooperative board chairman.
“Currently, PAGE counts among its members many small, single-market newspapers as well as some very large privately owned or privately financed newspaper groups. Before this action by PAGE, printing/publishing sites owned by publicly traded companies were not eligible for membership yet other large newspaper groups with different capital structures were permitted,” Eyerly said. “The dynamics of the market and ownership structures have shifted due to merger activity. Plus, when you consider that many newspapers are outsourcing their printing, whether to another newspaper or to a commercial printer, it makes sense for many of these businesses to have the opportunity to realize the even greater economies of scale that are feasible with an association like PAGE.”
Gary Blakeley, CEO at PAGE Cooperative, explains that bylaws regarding membership had not changed since the organization’s founding in 1984. “Today, the publishing/printing landscape is broad and different. Depending on print-run lengths, frequency of publication or the degree of regionalization and personalization, a newspaper can be printed offset on web or sheet-fed. But the common denominator of all offset printed newspapers is that membership in PAGE can bestow huge economic benefits to these businesses,” he said.
Even if commercial printers don’t print newspapers but focus on short-run books, brochures, sell sheets, etc., and as long as they are hired to print materials for customers, they can accrue benefits with PAGE membership, because PAGE has more buying power when it comes to printing supplies.
According to Blakeley, PAGE membership is granted by a vote of its board of directors, and requires a one-time fee. “We recognize that the value of membership has to be commensurate with the volume of print production-related supplies and services a newspaper or printer typically purchases. That’s why we perform a complimentary ROI/payback/timeframe analysis for prospective PAGE members that can reveal how large a savings they might expect and how quickly.”
“Even if you’re a very small operation, and let’s say, do not buy newsprint or printing plates from us, you can still save on software or some of the ancillary services that our vendors provide. Our staff will gladly conduct a review of your purchases to determine if membership makes sense for you,” Blakeley added.
As newspapers and printing operations look to minimize costs and realize the advantage of networking with like-minded, similarly situated, print production enterprises like those already part of the PAGE Cooperative, the broadening of PAGE’s membership is a welcome change in a market full of changes.