Tona Myers, production director at New World Library, manages a list of 300 to 400 active titles and follows the now-common practice of shorter and more frequent reprints to reduce inventories. With about 50 re-printings a month, she keeps her inventory levels at no more than three months’ supply in short runs of 2,000 to 5,000 each.
Printers, too, are discovering that a “just in time” policy saves valuable storage space and reduces cash tied up in inventory. As a consequence, paper merchants serving book printers are creating their own stocking and delivery programs to satisfy this demand.
Publishers in the major leagues of paper consumption still pass savings to the bottom line—as long as printers seem willing, in effect, to absorb storage and handling overhead, and private owners or public shareholders can measure the bottom line benefits. These paper consumers, by purchasing in advance, are, in effect, betting on price fluctuations in the commodity futures market. For what it is worth, someone in management might want to measure from time to time the cost benefit of cash tied up in paper inventory in a fluctuating price market, and cash applied to acquisition and marketing in a climate of changing reading habits and channels of information delivery.
Large or small, the state of the paper market drives the economic survival of the publishing industry. And the “forest primeval,” which throughout the last century has provided trees for paper mills, has earned the well-deserved respite that the transforming global paper industry can now provide.
Eugene G. Schwartz is a regular contributor to Book Business. He is a publishing industry analyst, writer and editor-at-large for Foreword Magazine. A former PMA board member, he is president of Consortium House, a management and business consultancy to publishers. He previously was a manufacturing, production and operations executive.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.