The hot topic this year for Dead Tree Edition readers has been retirement: Nine of the 10 most-read stories dealt with efforts (or lack thereof) to downsize the U.S. Postal Service workforce by getting more employees to quit.
Here's a brief recap of the year's highs and lows:
- Most popular article: By a landslide it was USPS Planning Retirement Incentives To Help Downsizing, Donahoe Testifies, with 42,000+ page views, more than double that of any other story.
- Most commented article: 8 Reasons USPS Productivity Is Declining: The Employees Speak Out, with a whopping 74, including many insightful responses from the Postal Service's front lines.
- Most influential article: Some would say it was Greenpeace Sticks It To Toshiba: Company Has No Paper Policy because an embarrassed Toshiba pulled the plug on its hypocritical No-Print Day the next day, but I suspect that was a coincidence. My vote is for 10 Questions About Toshiba's No-Print Day, which nine days earlier brought Toshiba's greenwash effort to the attention of a fairly small audience, but an audience that quickly spread the word to more influential writers and industry leaders. Dead Tree Edition only lit the spark for what became the Yes Print Day! movement. The flames were fanned into a raging fire by the likes of Printing Industries of America and Deborah Corn -- The Social Media Goddess of the printing industry, Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse, The Princess of #Printchat, and an advocate for Girls Who Print (whose unofficial slogan is "We can manage our PMS -- and our CMYK too!").
- Not so influential: In 2010 and 2011, RISI named D. Eadward Tree to its Top 50 list of the most influential people in the global pulp and paper industry because of Dead Tree Edition's work on the black liquor tax boondoggles for U.S. pulp producers. But that changed this year, as explained in Mr. Tree Gets the Axe, one of the least popular articles of the year with only 525 page views.
- Most popular non-postal (mostly) article: Which of These 4 Print-Related Giants Is Headed for Bankruptcy? Cast Your Vote, which explored whether USPS, Barnes & Noble, Quad/Graphics, or Verso Paper would go into the tank during 2012. Despite what the poll predicted, all have made it through the year without a visit to Chapter 11 Land.
- Most studied article: Lessons About the New World of Publishing from an Unlikely Source, on which the average reader spent more than six minutes.
- Most Shakespearean headline: Did Verso Come To Purchase NewPage Or To Bury It? As it turns out, Verso did neither. North America's two largest makers of coated paper will apparently not merge, and NewPage is on the verge of exiting bankruptcy protection.
- Dec. 21: We will survive the winter solstice.
- Dec. 22: A publicist hired by the Mayans will announce that their calculations were only slightly off: 2012 is not the end of Time but the end of Newsweek. (Technically speaking, they will be wrong; Newsweek is not going away, it's just discontinuing its print edition. Technically speaking, Newsweek died about three years ago.)
- Dec. 25: Millions of Americans will ooh and ah over sheets of coated freesheet paper printed with bright colors (aka Christmas wrapping paper), then promptly shred it with their bare hands. Some of it will get recycled.
- Dec. 31: Despite widespread agreement that 2012 was the year the Postal Service's financial situation needed to be addressed, Congress will go home having done nothing about USPS -- except for taking the heroic step of naming more post offices.