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
If 2007 goes down as “The Year of RR Donnelley,” it will do so as a result of a 65-day span at the turn of the year during which the conglomerate announced it would acquire three industry stalwarts: Perry Judd’s, Von Hoffman and Banta Corp. But the past year has been about more than consolidation and leveraged buyouts. North American printers continue to grapple with the mounting menace that is offshore manufacturing, fluctuating paper prices amid a series of mill shutdowns, and the ever-evolving technological demands of their customers. And yet, despite these challenges, there are also a number of opportunities facing the market.
Whether it’s an example of survival of the fittest for printers or merely another entry in a long line of acquisitions, RR Donnelley & Sons put the publishing industry on notice as it completed its “trilogy of transactions” this week, a course of action the industry’s top commercial printer says will help offer its customers greater capacity and flexibility. The Chicago-based printer announced it would make an all-cash purchase of educational-book printer Von Hoffmann from Visant Corp., in a deal valued at $412.5 million, RR Donnelley officials said Wednesday. “In concert with our fully integrated international production platform, the addition of Von Hoffmann’s facilities will offer