Book Market -- Mixed Bag May Continue
It was a successful education year for RR Donnelley, with many high-profile, high-volume jobs, according to Ed Lane, book division president. In doing so, the printer leveraged its platform approach of utilizing all its assets to help meet customer requirements.
"We had a very strong peak season and, by leveraging our assets across the entire platform, we were able to provide the schedule flexibility and schedule reliability that our educational publishers demand," Lane says. "There were some delays regarding (adoption) decisions in Texas this year, and that made for some challenging response requirements.
"The trade side had a busy period. We did a fair amount of the Potter product before we rolled into the traditional busy season for the consumer trade business. We ended up with a good peak period for that business, as well."
Donnelley repositioned some underused presses in 2003, moving a pair of single-colors to its Harrisonburg, VA, one-color trade plant, as well as installing an additional press there. It also embarked on its inventory management solution in the second quarter, which enables publishers to reduce the total cost of management and production of backlist titles.
To meet the continued demands of RR Donnelley's textbook publishers, a new incremental four-color press will be installed in early 2005. Like Courier's Tobin, he expects 2005 to be a better adoption year for the el-hi market.
Donnelley's export book printing service offering, called InternationalNavigator, includes a China-based solution that provides publishers with lower production costs with the same standard of customer service experienced at their domestic plants.
Lane is keeping an eye on the economy, since consumer confidence affects spending in the trade business and state budgets affect how much money schools can spend on textbooks.
With modest signs of improvement, albeit in select markets, for book manufacturers this year, they all hope the book's plot line for 2004 will have a happy ending.