Top Book Manufacturers: Printers Adapt by Following the Market
Whether it says more about recent positive trends or just how awful 2009 was, one thing every printer seems to agree on is that things are looking up in book manufacturing. This, at least, is the consensus among executives interviewed by Book Business as part of its annual assessment of the state of book manufacturing, which includes our list of top North American book printers ranked by book revenue.
Many comments are similar to those of David Wurster, CEO of Bookmasters: "We have been seeing a recent surge in the number of titles running through our printing facility," he says. "While our digital printing division continues to grow at a rapid pace, the number of titles running through our offset division is increasing as well the past quarter. We are experiencing shorter offset runs, on the average, per title; however, more titles [are] flowing through our facility."
In other words, volume is healthy, but the ongoing transition to digital is leaving its mark, affecting what publishers choose to print on offset as attempts are made to streamline and customize production, manufacturing and distribution. Smart printers are adjusting accordingly.
"Book volume has held up well," says Rob Krehbiel, president and CEO of CJK. Books constitute an increasing percentage of total company sales, he says, due to a sharp drop-off in magazine and catalog work. "Volumes are down, and ad pages way off," Krehbiel says of magazines. "Five years ago, I might have said that would be a big part of our future, but not now."
Across the industry, the story is roughly the same: While commercial printing has been hit hard by the recession, book volumes are, for now, holding steady. It's no wonder that, for many, the silver lining amid the dark clouds of recession has been the book sector's ability to hold its own.