Top 30 Book Manufacturers
Brent Hegwood: Rising paper costs and the need to reduce costs associated with excess inventory and scrap has driven the market to dramatically reduce run lengths. Short-run, on-demand printing is increasingly becoming the trend among book manufacturers.
What are the challenges your company is facing these days, and how is the company responding?
Clarke: … If we look at a consistent trend, if there’s a mantra out there, it’s supply chain management—on the publisher’s side—to … make sure that if they get a hot [book], they can have books at the right spot at the right time to maximize every sale. [Supply chain management] also [helps] to minimize overprinting, which leads to returns. That philosophy has been embraced universally. … So the challenge for us is that there’s a fixed amount of manufacturing time. Now you can improve that with new equipment, and the investment that we’ve made in our platform as a company has really been geared for that. We’ve invested over a billion dollars [companywide] over the last three years.
So with the wide-format presses and the very efficient make-ready presses, you have the ability to do both. When you have a high-page-count, high-quantity book, you’re able to get the presses and crank out a lot of books. And, at the same time, when there’s a valley in between those huge best sellers, there’s an opportunity to use these very efficient make-ready presses to do the short runs. And I think that’s been the collective challenge for both the publishing and the print communities.
Gregoire: Mergers and acquisitions. Everyone is buying everybody out, so it seems as though there are less and less customers out there.
McFarland: The rapid changes in technology challenge us to explore all options before investing in new equipment to ensure we can meet our customers’ current demands and future needs as well. Discussions with our customers regarding their business strategies and issues are the basis for assessing the capabilities of new equipment and processes. In addition, when financing purchases, we explore various options because of the rapid pace of obsolescence.
Matt Steinmetz is the publisher and brand director of Publishing Executive.