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swisstime clone watches 2017 Print Forecast: Tiny Price Hikes With a Chance of Disruption By D. Eadward Tree Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter LinkedIn LinkedIn Google + Google+ Email Email 2 Comments Comments

Unless Congress stuns the world by doing something about the U.S. Postal Service other than naming more post offices, publishers on average will experience slightly lower postal rates in 2017 than this year.

In fact, for all of the “Three Ps” of print magazine publishing — Postage, Printing, and Paper — publishers should be more concerned about disruptions than price increases next year.

Postal

Now that postal officials seem to have backed away from backdoor rate increases related to the Flats Sequencing System, the most likely scenario for 2017 is a single, inflation-based rate increase of about 1% in January. The resulting rates will still be more than 3 percentage points below where we began this year, before the “exigent” surcharge expired in April.

The financially strapped USPS has gained support in Washington for reinstituting some or all of that surcharge, but good luck getting a postal bill through a divided, deadlocked Congress. After all, the Postal Service’s Board of Governors has now become the “Board of Governor,” as Congress has failed to fill vacancies for eight of the nine non-management seats.

The downside of inaction on Capitol Hill is that the Postal Service remains saddled with the same bizarre only-inside-the-Beltway accounting rules that drove it to the brink of insolvency a few years ago and that still hinder any long-term planning or investment. The USPS, for example, desperately needs to replace its inefficient and downright dangerous 25-year-old-plus fleet of delivery vehicles. But its inability to borrow money or float bonds means the fleet overhaul is proceeding at a snail’s pace.

The Postal Service’s precarious finances feed the political support for above-inflation-rate postage increases, which could hit the Periodicals class especially hard if Congress becomes less deadlocked. The budget woes can also lead to poor service, and sometimes, poor decisions.

In the midst of the last recession, for example, postal officials eager to rein in the costs of handling flat mail hurriedly rolled out the Flats Sequencing System (FSS) despite testing that showed it wasn’t ready for prime time. More than five years later, the huge machines are still not operating as intended.

The good news on FSS is that mailers and postal officials have apparently worked out a compromise on FSS pricing. Postal officials want to expand the areas served by the FSS machines, believing that they will run more efficiently with higher volumes of mail.

But mailers pushed back, noting that they generally pay more for FSS mail than for traditionally sorted mail that mostly ends up in carrier-route bundles. They threatened litigation, noting that shifting more mail to FSS would amount to a back-door price increase that would violate the law that limits rate increases to changes in inflation.

Postal officials recently revealed a plan to expand FSS coverage without affecting publishers’ postal bills: Mail packaged for the FSS machines will be priced as if it were going to non-FSS zones. (For you postal geeks, that means a return to the practice of virtual presorts to determine which copies would have been in carrier-route bundles, placed on SCF pallets, etc. — then an actual presort that will place the magazines in bundles and containers in a way that is optimal for the FSS operation.)

Printing

The move away from FSS postal rates should be favorable for printers that use practices like co-mailing to reduce publishers’ mailing costs. Co-mail deals usually call for the printer and the publisher to share the postal savings. The current FSS pricing structure is not as friendly to co-mail as is the non-FSS structure, so the shift to FSS pricing has squeezed printers and caused some to pass along FSS surcharges to their customers.

With such FSS risk apparently off the table, and demand for publication printing continuing to decline, 2017 could be a good year to renegotiate printing contracts.

But that declining demand also makes it likely that some printing plants or even entire companies will shut down, which can saddle their customers with unexpected costs and transition issues.

Paper

Publishers have enjoyed gradually declining prices for paper this year. But the paper companies are in such bad shape that any further price reductions will lead to mill closures and tighten the market.

In fact, RISI, a paper-market analytics firm, assumes more capacity reductions are imminent and predicts that prices for magazine-quality paper will rise 1-3% early next year.

Publishers should also be aware that significant moves in the currency markets, which are rarely foreseen in advance, could be especially disruptive for U.S. buyers of magazine-quality paper: A sudden weakening of the U.S. dollar against other currencies could force some Canadian mills to close and would tamp down supply from overseas, which would lead to shortages and price spikes.

2 Comments View Comments Categories: Postal Printing & Manufacturing Places: magazine magazine-quality paper mailing costs paper postage postal postal rates printer printing printing plants publication printing publishers D. Eadward Tree Author's page D. Eadward Tree is a pseudonymous magazine-industry insider who provides insights on publishing, postal issues and print media on his blog, Dead Tree Edition .

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Regarding Postage: The main reason I am very skeptical about this “Discount” is because there are only 47 FSS sites that have FSS machines deployed in them, I believe there around 100 total FSS machines. If your mail is not going to these sites then you are not required to make FSS pallets, also not every pallet destined for these 47 sites is actually eligible to have an FSS pallet created. So it is not like the entire mailing industry will be seeing a major price discount, only the mail that is created on an FSS pallet destined for those 47 FSS facilities will be affected in the pricing. Clients that mail heavy in these areas will be affected the most if their mail qualifies for FSS processing.

The USPS will be asking for a postage increase in 2017 so I am not sure if this is a give and take situation yet but will keep watching. The document I am reading has 16 proposed changes in it and not all of these will be approved, these changes all need to be approved by the PRC once the USPS makes an official request.

Regarding Printing: Partnering with a technologically advanced printer (manufacturing/quality/paper usage) that also has strong distribution/mailing solutions is critical; for both printer and customer long term success.

Regarding Paper: Last year Risi predicted the same small increases. Nothing was increased on the coated papers side however uncoated paper saw modest increases throughout 2015 and the first part of 2016. This was due to a large number of uncoated mill closures and capacity reduction. There is a lot of speculation and movement in the SC grades. Due to the Canadian tariffs on SC paper, several Canadian SC producers are looking at purchasing U.S. SC mills or shutting Canadian SC Mills, so I could see some turbulence next year in the SC grades.

A lot of the projections for next year are based on Catalog season this year, but run dates are out further than normal on #4’s and #5’s and even free sheet grades. The more activity the greater the chance for price increases in 2017. January will be a key month and if it’s very slow as it usually is it will be hard to implement a price increase in the first half of 2017. But pricing is at an all time low and there is still a lot of capacity in the coated grades, so I could see the mills trying to increase pricing and remove capacity via mill closures etc. Just to try and raise price levels that are at an all time low.

While it’s like looking at a crystal ball to predict pricing in the future, I think we have a greater chance at a 2017 price increase than we have had in the last 24 months.

DEadwardTree

Thanks for the informed insights, David. You have an excellent crystal ball. It’s true that mailers who send primarily to FSS areas would get the biggest benefit (in some cases, a rate decrease) from the proposed change in rate structure, while those who don’t mail to FSS areas will pay more. It would probably average out to a small increase for most national publishers, but could be a different story for regional publishers.



Bentley Bentayga diesel review -Is it the ultimate luxury SUV? TALK about bad timing. By Luke John Smith PUBLISHED: 08:56, Mon, Apr 17, 2017 | UPDATED: 09:19, Mon, Apr 17, 2017 PH

Bentley Bentyaga diesel is the latest vehicle to join the luxury SUV line-up

Bentley takes the momentous step of introducing its first-ever diesel-powered car in the form of this new Bentayga off-roader, at the very moment that the world and British Government seems to welcome diesel cars with all the warmth of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

While actual legislation penalising modern diesels (which are cleaner than most despite what many politicians might think) is still thankfully some way off yet, there’s no doubt that public opinion is swinging generally against them. 

The fact that this new diesel version of the Bentayga will boost global sales and help to secure the 4,000-odd jobs of those hard-working production line staff at Bentley’s factory in Crewe, Cheshire, is a matter that is less easy for them to ignore. 

Likely to account for about half of all Bentley sales this year, there’s no doubting the huge success and popularity of the Bentayga. With more than 4,500 delivered last year and a plug-in hybrid model due before long, Bentley is capitalising on being first to the market with an uber-4x4 that the likes of Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce will be joining in due course. 

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While this latest diesel may seem an odd addition, for Bentley it makes a lot of sense. Yes, the chances are that anyone who can afford the £135,800 list price before options (more of which later) can afford the current Bentayga’s unleaded bill, but this diesel model’s appeal goes beyond that.

While it won’t be offered globally, some of Bentley’s markets such as the UK, Europe and Russia have a high concentration of diesel-engined cars. Furthermore, the extra range that the diesel will be able to offer is also reckoned to be a large part of its appeal for customers. 

Not that the diesel is exactly a short straw mind you. The 4.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet borrowed from the Audi SQ7 doesn’t just boast two turbos, but a supercharger as well, giving it a healthy 429bhp.

PH

The interior is of the typical luxury standard you expect from Bentley

That might be considerably lower than the petrol’s 600 horses, but the diesel actually matches it for outright grunt. Despite it tipping the scales at two and a half tonnes, it will still race from 0 to 60mph in just 4.6 seconds and on to a 168mph top speed. 

Think about the physics of something this big accelerating quite that fast and it is enough to scramble your grey matter. For the record, it will also return 35.8mpg average fuel economy at the pumps and produces 210g/km emissions. Both substantial improvements on the 21.6mpg and 296g/km emissions of the 6.0-litre petrol. 

However, for all those impressive numbers there’s still a slight underlying concern regarding the origins of the engine. After all, good though the Audi SQ7 undoubtedly is, it is perhaps not the most relaxing of 4x4s to drive. 

Bentley Bentayga 2017 in pictures Thu, January 26, 2017 The Bentley Bentayga 2017 in pictures Play slideshow PH 1 of 19 Bentley Bentayga 2017

Yes it’s fast, fearsomely so on occasion especially mid-range, but the SQ7 can often feel too keen to leap up the road like an eager puppy constantly pulling at a lead. Thankfully, though, Bentley has been able to develop the engine individually for more refi nement to remove those issues, something that’s immediately obvious. 

Don’t get us wrong, this is still a very rapid car when you flex your right ankle, but at the same time, that overeagerness has been dialled out from the engine, instead just offering a solid and constant surge of power rather than anything too peaky and urgent. 

The result is progress that feels far more refined and far more, well, Bentley-like. Crucially too, while there’s a little diesel rattle when standing alongside the car outside, once you’re ensconced inside, there’s no hint of what’s under the bonnet and any passengers would certainly be none the wiser.

There’s a lot to like about this diesel Bentayga. Yes the ride can be a little fidgety at times, but that’s to be expected for a car of this weight running on 21in wheels and tyres.

However, the biggest compliment you can probably pay it is that it feels no different to the petrol model. Despite its size and dimensions, it feels like it shrinks around you when driving with enthusiasm, with plenty of grip and confidence to be had. Fair enough, very few owners are likely to drive their Bentaygas anywhere near its limitations (either on or off-road). 

But the reality is that it’s far more capable than many will ever imagine and it retains a noticeable degree of sportiness. In conjunction with the arrival of this diesel is also the option for a pair of small extra seats in the boot, although they will only ever be suitable for children. 

Yet Bentley still expects about 15 per cent of buyers to tick that box on both this diesel and the petrol. And then there’s also the unmistakable gorgeousness of the rest of the Bentley’s interior. 

It may not look or feel the most high-tech on the market, but the wood, leather and handcrafted detailing is exquisite. It is also quite satisfying that even tiny details such as the contrast colour stitching around the rim of the steering wheel has been finished by hand rather than a clever robot. 

PH

The Bentayga diesel will cost drivers £135,800

Some things are still best done the old-fashioned way and the expertise in every element is clear. Of course, that doesn’t come cheap. Despite a saving of £25,000 over the petrol-engined version, our particular Bentayga test car boasted an eye-watering £61,400 of options. 

Even that hand-stitching around the steering wheel we mentioned will set you back a further £165. On the first Bentaygas produced last year, Bentley estimated that the average spend on options would be between £50,000-£70,000 and that shows no signs of abating with this diesel either.

Even the ultimate optional extra, the hand-made Breitling Tourbillon clock in the dashboard costing £150,000 is restricted by how many Breitling can build, rather than by how many people want them. 

That this new diesel version of the Bentayga will increase the car’s popularity worldwide is not in doubt. And whatever your current views on diesel cars, the fact is that for the Bentayga, the future of Bentley and all of those 4,000 workers in Crewe, that’s only good news.

--------------------------------

PH

The engine under the bonnet produces a 0 to 60mph time of 4.6 seconds and 168mph top speed LOGBOOK LOWDOWN

Model: Bentley Bentayga diesel 

Price: £135,800 

Engine: Turbo-diesel – 4.0-litre plus supercharger 

Power: 0 to 60mph in 4.6 seconds, 168mph top speed 

Average fuel economy: 35.8mpg 

CO2 emissions: 210g/km 

Rivals: Audi SQ7, Range Rover 

Rating: 9/10

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