Special Report: Printers' Outlook: Not Your Father's (or Mother's) Book Manufacturers
Beisser: What is your five- to 10-year outlook given the growth in e‑book sales and publishers' focus on inventory management and short-run printing?
Spall: I think we'll continue to make aggressive changes relative to continued investment in software capabilities for customers and automation in-house that will enable physical book printing [and] digital POD. We expect a larger percentage of our business to be derived from publishing services and e‑book conversions. We've already begun to offer tools for [authors and publishers] to market their books [and] design and editorial services. We expect the self-publishing model to grow, and we expect that percentage of our business to be much larger than it is today. Clearly, I see our physical book business … remain[ing] the majority of revenue for five years to come.
Beisser: How can publishers maximize relationships with book manufacturing partners?
Spall: I think it's really important that we don't commoditize the physical book. If you walk into a bookstore today, more times than not, when you look at the books by the door, they're not beautiful books. They're produced with very low-quality tissue paper. As a reader, if I'm going to read a physical book, I want it to look good, and have good production value and good paper. If I was going to be encouraging publishers, I'd say, "Get with the printing community and ask what can we do to embellish books a little bit more than we did in the late 1990s and the early 2000s." … Consumers and readers that just want content will go to the e‑book. But there's still a slice of readers that want a physical book. We need to make that physical book a nice quality.
Beisser: Is there anything I didn't ask about that you feel is important to address?
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