Larry West

During the holiday ’06 season, more than one assessment in the consumer press about the healthy state of the print catalog made reference to Mark Twain’s legendary reaction to seeing his own obituary in 1897, “The reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated.” As a metaphor for the print catalog, it’s a pretty accurate quote. Nearly a decade since e-commerce Web sites were first tooled to process orders, it’s safe to say that the role of the print catalog has largely been recast. And unlike what so many free-speaking soothsayers were forecasting in the late ’90s, Web sites didn’t replace catalogs after all. (A somewhat

As we roll through the mid-2000s, one could easily transform the saying, “what’s old is new again,” to “what’s new is old already.” Rapidly evolving technology is changing American business faster than ever, and it’s swiftly altering the catalog/multichannel retail business. On our end, we’ve embraced change in this issue, our first full-fledged redesign in five years. Along with our new, eye-pleasing look, you’ll see some new columns and departments, such as Association for Postal Commerce President Gene Del Polito writing the new Understanding Postal column and catalog acquisitions expert Larry West heading the new Acquisitions & Valuations column. Watch for additional expert columnists

When Peter and Peggy Rice founded the Plow & Hearth catalog in an outbuilding on their Virginia farm in 1981, their inspiration was the back-to-basics movement. Nearly 20 years later, the country philosophy remains, but the back-roads mail order business is anything but backwards. Its adoption of a high-tech database in the mid '90s has led to quick, efficient growth through sophisticated modeling, which in turn engendered a home-furnishings catalog spin-off and a highly successful upselling program. Now Plow & Hearth's dual commitment to direct marketing basics and use of cutting-edge technology is allowing the founders to reap what they've sown. In April

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