The 2013 edition of Vending Times' Buyers Guide is the 42nd in a series of reference tools for vending and coin-op professionals, and for business--people and researchers outside the industry who are interested in learning about the organizations that serve it. VT's Buyers Guide provides practical lists of equipment, products and services useful to merchandise vending, contract foodservice, coffee service, bulk vending, music and amusements operators, with contact information and summary descriptions.
While only half the size of our directories published before the Great Recession tightened its grip on the vending and publishing industries four years ago, the Buyers Guide is still our most popular issue among readers and advertisers -- even amid the extraordinary changes to publishing brought about by the Internet's instant informational capabilities. And why not? A well-thought-out directory is the ultimate magazine when you consider the etymology of magazine.
First used in military parlance in the 16th century, magazine can be traced back to the Middle French magasin, meaning warehouse, depot or store, which itself is thought to be derived from the Arabic makhazin, plural of makhzan, which means storehouse. While the original meaning is almost obsolete, the figurative usage of magazine referring to a "storehouse" of information is still very relevant. While publishers (Vending Times included) are often preoccupied with distribution methods -- print, online, digital, etc. -- our real purpose is to find ways to enrich our readers' lives, or at least livelihoods. We consider our Buyers Guide issue to be a "storehouse" of great value to the vending operator.
At a recent trade show where we displayed some Buyers Guides, a reader and longtime operator asked if we wouldn't mind if he took two extra copies. "No problem," we said, and asked if he would share his reason for wanting them. He said he and his staff use the book not infrequently when investigating a source. "But don't you find the Internet to be more useful?" we asked. He responded, "Not always." The operator observed that the Internet is helpful, and works best when you can start with a resource dedicated to his business. For this operator, and we hope many more, VT's Buyers Guide remains a trusted storehouse of information for the vending industry.
This year's Buyers Guide continues to improve upon the streamlined format that we introduced in recent years. Every organization listed in the Buyers Guide has one entry in the Alphabetical Listing that begins on Page 47. Pointers to these organizations are categorized in seven indices that precede the alphabetical list.
Almost 2,000 organizations are catalogued by the type of product or service they offer. For example, the searcher will find full-line "coffee" machine manufacturers referenced under that subcategory in the Major Machine Manufacturers index; "self-service kiosk" providers are referenced in "Specialty Machines," and so on. The Product Index on Page 9 further speeds up searches by relating the 200 subcategories to the seven main classifications.
Equipment distributors and vend product sales companies -- the regional and local logistical links in the operators' supply chain -- are listed in their own sections, organized geographically. In the Distributors section, we specify the types of equipment they sell and support (vending, music and games, OCS and money handling). The next section is devoted to Vendible Product Sales Specialists, and lists product brokers and warehouses serving vending/foodservice and OCS operators.
The Buyers Guide is also our July 2013 issue, but we do not publish a dedicated news section (we returned to a single-purpose directory in 2010.) Instead, our website provides a convenient medium for presenting news and features, and our email newsletters provide up-to-the-minute industry intelligence.
We remain devoted to our readers, and to advancing our media offerings. Don't hesitate to email your suggestions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Manufacturers and suppliers will find a questionnaire for next year's directory issue at our website, vendingtimes.com, and on Page 143 of this issue.