Self-publishing and online services, e-books, and digital demand printing are joined into a new and powerful sector that is transforming the industry. For industry professionals whose career satisfactions and livelihoods are bonded to the future of the book, this new sector offers a wild ride and a venturesome future.
Whether it says more about recent positive trends or just how awful 2009 was, one thing every printer seems to agree on is that things are looking up in book manufacturing. This, at least, is the consensus among executives interviewed by Book Business as part of its annual assessment of the state of book manufacturing, which includes our list of top North American book printers ranked by book revenue.
Editors’ Picks: Quotes that we love … or at least think are pretty cool (from the past year in Book Business). And, they actually paint a pretty accurate picture of the state of things.
Regarding the book manufacturing industry’s commitment to “green” principles, it could be said that a page has truly turned. Over the past decade, consideration of climate impacts and paper sourcing has become central to the industry’s approach, and, along the way, many manufacturers have discovered ways to balance the need to economize, invest in infrastructure and reduce environmental impacts—often through innovative policies and practices that manage to do all three.
In the current economy, the book manufacturing industry appears to be caught square between the proverbial rock and a hard place: on the one side, a publishing business suffering from decreased consumer demand and on the other, suppliers destabilized by the credit crunch. The industry, however, is showing surprising resiliency, having been thrust into difficult times with eyes wide open. Printers are determined to meet the challenge of a new marketplace defined by multiplatform delivery systems, environmental awareness and niche distribution models in the hopes that the post-“great recession” economy will find a book manufacturing industry emerging leaner, “greener” and more focused on the place of books in a digital age.
Edwards Brother Inc., a book and journal manufacturing firm specializing in medium, short and ultra-short runs, has received chain-of-custody certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for both its Ann Arbor, Mich. and Lillington, N.C. facilities. FSC certification verifies the source of papers utilized in manufacturing and tracks these certified products throughout the inventory and distribution process. To become certified, companies work with accredited, independent certification agents who evaluate both forest-management activities and chain-of-custody tracking of materials passing through mills, manufacturers and distributors. “This new certification is part of a larger, ongoing effort at Edwards Brothers to be responsible corporate citizens and to better
PublicAffairs, an imprint of The Perseus Books Group, recently found itself with an enviable problem—not enough books to fill orders for a runaway best-seller. The book was Scott McClellan’s White House memoir “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” but luckily for Perseus, the appearance of McClellan’s face everywhere on TV this spring coincided with a propitious meeting at BookExpo America between John Ingram of Ingram Book Group, owner of digital printer Lightning Source, and Perseus Publisher Peter Osnos. “Demand went vertical, and there was a period of time when orders were coming in and they [didn’t have] any
Speak to just about any book manufacturer these days about his or her business, and you’re likely to hear a laundry list of concerns: an economy teetering on the edge of a recession, paper’s rising costs and tighter supply, the need to respond to publishers’ and environmental groups’ “green” demands, and mounting pressure to improve turn times and to upgrade technology, among others. And yet, for an industry so seemingly wrought with challenges, a look at Book Business’ annual list of North America’s Top 30 Book Manufacturers (on pages 16-17) appears to tell a different story. Just seven of the 30 printers who appear
Printers generally like to talk about investments they’ve made in print technologies—offset or digital. Perhaps that’s because it suggests they’re doing well and that they’re investing in their customers’ businesses. Besides, talking about a slick, new machine that requires little to no makeready time and gets up to color with minimal effort is sexy. Well, comparatively speaking. The clunkier “back-office” equipment found in the typical finishing department is perhaps not as provocative, but talk to most any book printer or trade binder, and they’ll likely confide that the bindery machines are the real workhorses. Indeed, investing in the bindery is just as important
Ten years ago, digital, ondemand book printing officially burst upon the scene at Book-Expo America. With IBM’s roll-fed and Xerox’s sheet-fed equipment producing books on the show fl oor in Chicago, Ingram (then Lightning Print) and Bertelsmann (through OPM) invited the industry to get on board while the train was at the station. Since then, Lighting Print has transformed into Lightning Source, a subsidiary of Ingram Industries and the nation’s largest 24/7 book-at-a-time printer. Book and journal manufacturer Edwards Brothers, which had also been operating a one-off DocuTech service for some years before 1998, has expanded its reach and now has seven satellite digital