Catalogue distributors have faced an interesting dilemma as the electronics industry moves toward environmental awareness. Millions of engineers, buyers, and even hobbyists still want paper catalogues for flipping through and dog-earing pages for future reference. So catalogue distributors are trying to be as environmentally responsible as possible by using eco-friendly paper and inks and reducing the frequency of catalogue printings.
Catalogue distributors did, for a while, try to redirect customers to CD-ROM catalogues and then to online catalogues. But customers rebelled. Distributors also tried to publish their catalogues less frequently. That got mixed reviews. So now, catalogue houses operate under a compromise of sorts: catalogue updates are usually published online or on disk, and paper catalogues are as environmentally friendly as possible.
For example, this week, Electrocomponents plc announced it is using UPM EcoLite paper to produce its catalogue. RS prints over 760,000 copies of its catalogue every year for customers across Europe and Asia Pacific. In the US, Electrocomponents' Allied Electronics catalogue meets Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification. This means all paper used in the catalogue was obtained from the SFI program, which integrates the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the protection of wildlife, plants, soil, water, and air quality.
Here's a snapshot of what other catalogue distributors are doing to minimize their impact on the environment:
Chicago-based Newark and its parent Premier Farnell, based in England, are trying to reduce the frequency of all printed materials, including mailings. Both catalogues use paper that meet SFI or the overseas FSC certifications, or are printed on recycled/recyclable paper. The catalogues are published using soy-based inks.
Digi-Key Corp.'s US catalogue is produced with paper containing 33 percent post-consumer fiber and may be recycled through a paper board recycling program.
Although the specifications of its printed catalogue aren't mentioned on its website, Mouser Electronics has a corporate environmental policy that encompasses lead-free and RoHS, WEEE, packaging waste, and batteries and chemicals, and works with suppliers and customers on their recycling and disposal efforts.
All the catalogue houses are encouraging customers to recycle old catalogues and to pass on extra copies to peers.
Readers, what's your preference -- paper or online -- and why? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or, better, on the message board below.
It also feels more efficient to flip through the pages of a catalog looking for the device or component that one needs - or perhaps even more to the point, when looking for something that will perform the function that you need, but you don't know exactly what device or component performs that function.
When I know exactly what I want (by part number or description), the internet is my first choice.
I would prefer a combination of both types to get the required information effectively. I would prefer first downloading the on line edition of all those catalogues in which I am interested. My first look at these catalogues will be a quick browse through of all the content of the downloaded PDF file. Once I have focussed my interest on a particluar component, or the particular features of components then I would take the hard copy print-out of just that portion of the catalogue. Since the print of a PDF file almost resembles the printed catalogue, I don't think companies should continue practice of printing the catalogue separately. May be as an advertisement they can print just the index page with links to the online pdf versions for each item in the index page.
Ah yes, the ol' Wishbook. Brings back memories. Interesting thoughts about the catalog's eventual extinction. The fate of this old workhorse reference tool is in the hands of the engineer and purchasing audience. Survey these decision makers and you'll get your answer.
Since printing catalogue and palm lets are the tradition way of advertisements, it’s have a long impact on human psychology too. I understand that many people still prefer catalogues because it’s ready to read, irrespective of time, place or any other such issues. It is an efficient means of conveying and accessing the information. Anything printed on paper is more eyes catching and the only drawback is that it cannot speak or animate.
But for electronic type of displays like CD-ROMs/USB etc, the major problem is it requires some access Medias for read or display. Even though carrying the catalog through such mediums are compactable, it’s difficult to carry access mechanisms. But here the catalogue can animate and speak themselves, for a better presentation.
If we want to save our nature and mother earth, then surly we have to think about the movements towards green. I think traditional printed catalogues won't disappear completely at least for another 50 years, but its disappearance gradually.
While I understand that some people still prefer catalogues to CD-ROMs, the catalogue is nearing the end of its lifespan.
At a little over 30, I'm probably in the last generation of people that will even remember catalogues as being commercially viable, and that's only because Sears still did that cool "Wish Book" thing or whatever it was called that I remember when I was a child.
Nearly everyone younger than me will likely have little interest in catalogues. And perhaps even ANYTHING printed on paper, but that's a separate debate...
But personal preferences and generation gaps aside, the reason the catalogue format will not survive is because it is an efficient means of conveying and accessing information. In the 1900's the catalogue was wonderful and a far better means of information distribution than what was typically available. Now it certainly is not: you cannot search (well, outside of the index or table of contents, I suppose!), there's no community features, prices are surely outdated, products advertised won't be the latest available... the list goes on and on.
Traditional printed catalogues won't disappear completely for another couple of generations, but its disappearance is inevitable.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.