No More Big Squeeze
Despite the recession, Quebecor World Inc., Montreal, saw an increase in its trade business, but the year remained a "challenge", says Jerry Allee, executive VP of book services and president of international sales.
"Publishers [tell us they] view the first half of 2004 conservatively at this time, but they indicate that inventories are being reduced to levels requiring reprinting," Allee says. "In addition, we are told they will continue to tightly manage their inventory, placing emphasis on speed-to-market and faster turnaround."
So how do printers and publishers increase their bottom line when the top line isn't growing? In addition to the cost cutting, some have been spending, applying manufacturing and computer technologies to profitably change how they do business.
Even as management cut back or consolidated offices, plants, managers, and staff, investments in technology continued, even increased. This bucks the general trend among businesses during the recession, many of whom pulled back or canceled planned technology upgrades and initiatives.
"The trick is to harness technology," says George Davidson, associate director of GDP Publishing Associates Inc., a production consultancy in New York. "You use it in the best way to create greater efficiencies."
And greater market opportunities. "We don't want to limit ourselves to putting ink on paper," says Transcontinental's Gregoire. To that end, Transcontinental is focusing on offering more print-related services to book publishers, and is using technology to cut costs all around.
Color management is one such service. The company started offering the service last year, and will be pushing it harder in 2004, Gregoire says. The service involves a Transcontinental engineer visiting the customer site, calibrating proofing systems (computers, monitors, printers, etc.), then training users to generate color proofs that look the same on press as they do on screen or page.