The Printers' Evolution
Edwards: One of the things we're trying to do is develop more automated ordering, so our customers can enter an order remotely and get the same kind of service and information and feedback that they have now. That's part of a program that we call One Touch Reprint.
... [One Touch Reprint] works if that's what the customer wants, but what we find is they sometimes want to make corrections, or have a special label on the box, or have this one book order go to 10 different places—so this system we're building is, I would say, a work in progress. I have a sense of where it's going, but it's kind of taking on a life of its own. The ultimate objective is to mutually strip out transaction costs and provide the ability to react quickly, because what's happening is our publishers are producing more and more reprints of the same order with the same [number of staff], or maybe less, so we have to make it easier for the publisher to order.
BB: What changes in the book publishing market are driving these changes?
Edwards: The culture up until a couple of years ago was that it's OK to overbuild and throw away a few books, because that way, you touch every possible channel. I think that's changing. The community is embracing shorter print runs and more replenishment—but it's not [happening] everywhere.
... For 70 percent of our customers' lists, these solutions work. The thing for us is we have to get that from 70 to 80 to 85 [percent], so that's where we are seeking stronger ties with the customer and more involvement in the supply chain. Our job is to show our publishing clients what works for other people, so they at least know about it. They may not choose to use that opportunity, but at least we are doing our job by showing them what works.