Publisher Perspective - Book Manufacturing Turnaround Times
Director of Book Production
"We need to satisfy customer needs as quickly as possible, but we try to keep inventory as low as possible. We've been in this mode for a few years now," says Joe Romano, Director of Book Production at Book-of-the-Month Club.
He has observed the book and component printers he deals with--which include Donnelley, Quebecor, Maple-Vail, Phoenix and Coral--continually becoming more responsive to his company's goals over the past three years. Yes, he says, new equipment and better administrative processes have been a part of it, but what he's noticed most, he says, is a shift in printers' attitudes. "It's more of a mindset," remarks Romano.
The products Book-of-the-Month club sells to its direct-mail buyers are typically other publishers' books. Book-of-the-Month club buys the rights to the books.
Usually Romano can give printers more advance notice for first runs than reprints, so it's easy to get the turnarounds needed.
It's harder to give advance notice for reprints, which may be ordered in large batches of many small print orders.
Still, he says, he can just about count on a two-week turnaround from order to warehouse for a one- or two-color book. But it's not exactly a sure thing--he may have to wait a little longer if the printer has an overloaded schedule or if there are paper availability problems.
For four-color books, he considers four weeks a good turnaround time. "There are instances where they can beat those turnaround times," says Romano, "but that can't be the expectation." Not yet, at least.
Director of Production
"We are putting pressure on our printers to shorten schedules. On a limited basis they are able to do it," says Roslyn Udris, director of production, Brookes Publishing, Baltimore, MD.
Typically, Udris notes, a five- to six-week turnaround time from order date to book shipping is easily achievable for her one- and two-color, casebound and softback titles titles. Four-week turnarounds are obtainable--but less often, and she has to press her printers for them, which, she says, she might do for books that must make a conference or special event.