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Street directories find their way through GPS maze

Friday, 02 September 2011
By Print 21 Online Article

Universal Publishers has published its last Gregory’s glovebox edition as it merges the title with its UBD Street Directory.

According to managing director, Ian Webster, the company is looking to recoup production costs by phasing out the glovebox version.

“We have decided to make the 75th edition of Gregory’s the last one in that format. From now on we will be producing the larger format UBD/Gregory’s,” he says.

Webster expects the popularity of the standard 1:19,000 UBD version continue, as the company moves to publish a compact 1:25,000 version for backpackers, motorcyclists and travellers who don’t need the investment in the larger and more expensive directory. Melbourne’s compact directory has already been published and the first Sydney compact will be available in June 2012.

The compact directories will be a far smaller market, catering to people not wanting to the larger directory. It is simply the same images of the UBD scaled down for reference and portability.

Universal Publishers new position on its product does not represent any loss or impact to local printers, as it has not printed copies in Australia for decades.

“C&C Offset and Hangtai print most of our street directories in China. We continue to print sheet maps in Australia through a number of printers, the large majority of which are with GEON.

“We will be satisfied if we can maintain current volumes, as people aren’t completely comfortable with the accuracy of electronic maps. They want the reliability of having a hard copy map as a backup.

“We had great volumes until 2006. We sold well over a million street directories across Australia. And now we sell under a million, so the market has significantly been impacted by the nav-systems, but there is still a strong demand for hard copy street directories,” he says.

.The new market player of GPS navigation is more expensive and is often prone to lead drivers down the wrong path or entirely lost. It’s a case-by-case story constantly in global news.

Spokesperson for rival street directory publisher, Melway, Grant Arnott, claims printed street directories are holding their own against GPS. “A lot of people buy both GPS and map books, as the digital technology can let people down.

“The GPS technology has definitely diluted the market but the books have a loyal following of existing customers who resubscribe every few years for up to date maps,” says Arnott.

Melway has been printing its books for around 50 years and it about to produce the 40th edition of the Melbourne product, Melway. The Sydway book is on its 16th print run and Brisway is on its fifth incarnation.

“A lot of people still find the books more user friendly, with a map on a page rather than a screen. At the end of the day it’s a user preference, there is still a strong market for street directories,” adds Arnott.

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