The Printers' Evolution
BB: What about rising paper costs?
Edwards: I worry [that] there is a point when paper prices go up enough that the publisher says, 'I'm not going to print it.' It's like the mail example—for every 10-percent [postal] increase, there's something like a 2-percent reduction [in business]. We need to figure out a model, because what you see is a lot of substitution as paper prices go up, [meaning] we've had to deal with lower grades of paper to run and produce a high-quality product, which makes it tougher for us. But there's not much we can do, because, as a community, [book printers] are not a big paper buyer overall.
BB: In which book segments do you expect to see short-run printing models expanding in the near future?
Edwards: While we're not a player in this space, on the children's book side, with the advent of ink-jet technology, that will definitely be the case [that there will be an increase]. A lot of those books are [currently] being produced in China or the Far East, and they're so cheap that it's OK to overbuild it. But I think the ink-jet world is going to change that game a lot—essentially it's going to bring some of that money back to the States, which is a good thing.
BB: What else are you doing that's driven by changes in the book distribution market?
Edwards: One of the things we're doing is trying to focus on [a] print-local [strategy]. We have a partnership with printers in the U.K., Australia and Singapore called GPS—Global Print Solution. If we receive a file for a U.S. publisher that needs to be shipped to the U.K., we can transit that file to them, and they'll print it and ship it locally, and we'll handle the transaction on this side.