A Bridge to Global Bookselling
Scientology—for many, it may conjure up thoughts of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Kirstie Alley or Lisa Marie Presley, the Church of Scientology, some controversial discussions and media headlines, or the man behind the religion, L. Ron Hubbard. But for very few does it elicit images of state-of-the-art digital printing machines, conveyer belts that criss-cross a 276,000-square-foot building, a stash of 35,000 miles of paper, or an inventory of millions of L. Ron Hubbard books awaiting shipping to any of a number of countries around the world. Perhaps now it will.
The publishing arm of L. Ron Hubbard's collection of writings and lectures, Bridge Publications, is, according to the company, the world's largest, all-digital print-on-demand publishing house. The Los Angeles-based company has the capacity to bind some 6,000 books every hour, totaling more than 1 million per week. It can manufacture approximately 250,000 transcripts each day, and CDs of the Scientology founder's lectures at a rate of 1 million each week. And all this from inside its headquarters, spanning one city block on Olympic Boulevard.
The company has focused on building custom solutions that maximize automation with state-of-the art digital printing and binding machines. It controls production from printing to binding to order fulfillment and distribution—and virtually every component of the line, according to the company, is "all digital" and automated, right down to a computer that tracks inventory. As orders are filled, reprints are automatically triggered so Hubbard's book titles, transcripts and audio CDs are never out of stock.
Here, Blake Silber, Bridge Publications' president—who took the helm in 2009—shares his insights into the company's history, revenue picture, marketing strategies and much more.
Book Business: How much of your revenue is from print books?
Blake Silber: … Income from books has averaged 33 percent of our total income, while Audio Visual products (including CDs and DVDs) constitute 67 percent.