Special Report: Printers' Outlook: Not Your Father's (or Mother's) Book Manufacturers
Wurster: One of the things publishers are trying to do is mitigate inventory risk. This means that BookMasters has to provide a viable high-quality, ultra-short-run to one-off printing solution. Our answer to this was the installation of a $2.5 million Océ ink jet printing system coupled with a Muller Martini inline bindery. That’s something we installed in mid-2011, and it’s an area we continue to invest in.
On the selling side, our book buyers were telling us they would like to see more and better Spanish content in the U.S. marketplace. As a result, we started a Spanish distributorship in 2011.
Beisser: How much of your business is digital printing, and do you see that changing?
Wurster: The digital printing of our production-related services, excluding sales and fulfillment, is 20 percent. We absolutely see that growing. Generally speaking, both our e‑book and our POD departments are two areas of significant growth.
Beisser: Do you offer e‑book conversion, have you partnered with a conversion service, or do you plan to in the near future?
Wurster: We do provide conversion services and, in fact, have partnered with a couple of overseas providers over the years. However, what we see changing is the conversion service offering on the less-complex content. We’re seeing more automated conversion solutions that are becoming a more viable option than what is still required on the more-complex content.
Converting content to e‑books has been commoditized, and there is not a lot of value-add in this area moving forward as manipulating front-list files during the composition stage is quite simple. As publishers work through their backlists, the value in conversion certainly decreases. I see BookMasters’ value in the “what next” approach. Our ability to sell this content and distribute it to the global marketplace is how we differentiate ourselves.
Related story: Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move