Special Report: Printers' Outlook: Not Your Father's (or Mother's) Book Manufacturers
To survive and thrive as the book industry's digital revolution pushes forward, and as better inventory management drives the shift toward smaller print runs, the smarter printers are doing everything they can to ensure they'll be a part of that ongoing transformation. This includes incorporating newer technologies with an ever sharper focus on customer support and service. Book Business spoke with executives from Quad/Graphics, BookMasters, Sheridan Books, Walsworth and Thomson-Shore, and asked about their outlooks for their businesses. The general consensus: They're ready for what the next year (and the years to come) have in store for them.
With an adapt-or-perish perspective on how new technologies have fundamentally changed their time-honored business models over the past decade or so, these five innovators are among those that see more clearly now than ever where their services fit into their publishing customers' future success. Knowing the right balance between digital offerings and traditional services is key, as is knowing what their clients want. The unquestionably more difficult part is helping those customers gain a better understanding of exactly what they need.
President and CEO Thomson-Shore Inc., Dexter, Mich.
Peter Beisser: What is your company's biggest challenge today?
Kevin Spall: I think it's somewhat similar to what traditional publishers are going through with managing the ongoing production of physical books. It's our core product and makes up a lion's share of our product. We're in a very competitive environment, but we're investing and developing new services for a dynamic publishing industry. Knowing when to make strategic investments, balancing those investments, while at the same time managing the traditional side of the business—that is our ongoing challenge both here at Thomson-Shore and as an industry.
Beisser: What is your biggest opportunity?
Spall: I think the opportunities that exist for us come through having a very flexible and diverse product and service offering. Rather than … crouching down in a fetal position and –saying we do one-color, 6-by-9 paperback books, we have, for years, been blowing out our offering to the marketplace so that, in theory and practice, a publisher could come to us for any product, and we could produce it for them with our single platform.
Related story: Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move