Special Report: Today’s Global Sourcing Market
Dick says projects that are not time-sensitive, such as some books, calendars and greeting cards, work best for manufacturing overseas, along with “anything with any kind of handiwork”—including complex boxes, die-cuts or paper engineering products.
If properly planned, he says, projects are shipped back by sea freight, which takes two weeks (not counting domestic delivery). Air freight is available, he notes, but expensive ($3 per pound); however, even that option can be cheaper in some cases if it’s a limited run and the publisher is short on time.
Dick adds that while most of the focus in sourcing overseas is on cost, high quality also is now a consideration.
Patty Collins, senior production manager at Random House Children’s Books, cites quality and proven capability, along with cost, as primary reasons for outsourcing manufacturing to China.
“Most U.S companies don’t have the manufacturing capabilities to produce board books, pop ups and books with other add-ons,” she says. “Novelty and licensed titles often have a lower price point, lower than most hardcover picture books and novels, and so we must print overseas in order to hold the retail price.”
Collins says 85 percent of the titles in her imprint are done in China through a core group of six vendors. She also works with one vendor in Singapore and one in Thailand.
“Flexibility is important,” she stresses. “We try never to load up on one printer, as every one has the same busy season.” Working with multiple vendors also allows the company to tailor its manufacturing to the needs of specific projects, as some facilities have proven expertise in assembling certain types of books.
Smaller publishers also continue to look to China. Stackpole Books, a Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based publisher of titles on crafting, nature and outdoor recreation, outsources printing and binding work for both quality and cost reasons.