Q&A with Edwards Brothers Malloy CEO John Edwards
The December Issue Book Business featured the re-launch of the Top 20 Book Manufacturers, a ranking that lists the largest book manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada by revenue. To accompany that ranking, we interviewed top printing executives to find out how the printing industry has changed and the issues they think publishers should be most mindful of in the future. Printing experts shared insights on digital printing, minimizing supply chain costs, and integrating publisher and printer systems. The Q&As we published in the December issue were just snapshots, but following you'll find the full-length interview with John Edwards, CEO of Edwards Brothers Malloy.
What important printing trends do you see on the horizon?
I've been in this business for almost 30 years now. When I started demand drove the printing business. We couldn't help people fast enough because the demand went up each year, and we focused on building more machines to handle all of the orders. Then around mid-2000 electronic readers became more popular, and there was a fundamental shift in the debate. The demand was no longer feeding the supply, the supply was feeding the demand.
A printer had to become a different kind of company, managing the shrinking or stable market. Inventory became a really important part of everyone's discussion. When people ask me "What do you do?" I no longer say, "I'm a printer." I say, "I'm a supply chain partner." It's more about making inventory tighter, responding quicker, and understanding distribution, which I never knew about 20 years ago, to be honest. I would say that from the printer side the industry has changed dramatically.
We're consolidating our warehouses now and being tighter on inventory and trying to be more responsive to demands as they come in. We have to be willing to change content quickly. It's a much more nimble, flexible environment.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.