Despite difficult economic times, this was a year when most organizations maintained or improved the overall quality of their annual reports. Key observations include:
- Smaller publication footprints. Most annual reports maintained standard industry sizes, such as Letter and A4 paper stock. One common and clever trick used to distinguish a publication was to choose a paper size that was unconventional to the local region, e.g. A4 for a U.S.-originated book and Letter for a European book. Another creative approach was to trim a conventional paper size. What we did notice missing this year were oversized publications—our new A3-sized scanner was hardly ever challenged by any massive annual reports.
- The CD-ROM is dead. A decade ago, annual reports were often enclosing CD-ROMs in their publications to help distinguish their publications and deliver additional content to users. This is the first year where we didn't notice any enclosed discs. Instead, some books have started using USB drives. This isn't the most cost-effective choice (about 4-8 times the cost...and also 6-12 times the capacity), but it's the trend.
- Playing a conservative game. Before the economic challenges of 2008 and 2009, we received annual reports that were in the form of LEGO sets, bona fide board games and more. That's on hold for now; many books are visually stunning, hold impressive production values, and offer many bells and whistles...but none are setting new standards for anything that appears to be recreational. Nonetheless, this is the first year of having annual reports with embedded video, so new trails continue to be blazed.