Book of Lists

Modern lists for a modern economy

In late June, I flew to Dallas to attend the annual conference of the Alliance of Area Business Publishers, the industry association for business-to-business journals like the Worcester Business Journal. During a breakout session with a couple dozen other B2B editors, a handful of newsroom leaders bemoaned their annual Book of Lists feature, saying the annual special edition had gotten stale and readers and advertiser interest was waning.

I didn't say anything during the session – partially because I didn't want to sound like I was bragging, and partially because lunch was next and I didn't want to conversation to run too long – but the opposite is true at WBJ. WBJ's advertising sales in Book of Lists hit a record high last year, and the reader response to the publication and the lists themselves was much stronger. I intended to discuss with those editors over lunch – which, unfortunately, was not comprised of more Texas BBQ – how the secret to our success was understanding the changes in the Central Massachusetts economy and featuring lists reflecting those changes.

The 44 lists contained in this issue are not the same lists WBJ published in its first Book of Lists more than two decades ago. They are not even the same lists we published last year. The Central Massachusetts economy changes every year, and the raw market intelligence our readers need to thrive changes with it. Last year, we did a bigger overhaul, adding lists on incubators, breweries, commercial contractors, caterers, urgent care centers and architectural firms. This year was less drastic, with new lists on addiction treatment, minority-owned business, state employee salaries and private ambulance services. For next year, we are already planning for more changes, particularly around how digital services have changed.

While publishing a special edition full of data might seem counterintuitive in an age where people have access to more information than ever sitting in a device in their pocket, the power of the Book of Lists is to provide you with exactly the information you need exactly when you need it. That is why we changed our lists this year, and why we will change them next year.

-Brad Kane, editor

Each list can be downloaded in an Excel format. Go to the Worcester Business Journal Data Center for more information.

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