Book Market — Mixed Bag May Continue

By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

Try summing up the 2003 season from the book printing market’s point of view. It can’t be done.

Sure, another Potter tome and the return of Oprah’s book club did wonders for a struggling trade market, and most feel the elementary-high school (el-hi) sector was as depressed as the economy, with weak adoption programs to match. But, for the most part, the answers to what worked and what didn’t pan out depends largely upon who is being asked.

Top 10 Book Printers
  Company Segment
1 RR Donnelley
$808 $4,754
2 Quebecor World
$749 $6,242
3 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$355 $1,366
4 Von Hoffmann
St. Louis
$348 $535
5 Bertelsmann Arvato
New York
$209 $276
6 Courier Corp.
N. Chelmsford, MA
$202 $202
7 Transcontinental Inc.
$159 $1,141
8 Phoenix Color
Hagerstown, MD
$137 $137
9 Taylor Publishing
$108 $108
10 Walsworth Publishing
Marceline, MO
$88 $88

Sales figures are based on above printers’ self-reported total and market segment breakdowns.

Most would also agree that an economic rebound will put smiles on many faces. And, most agree, there are bona fide signs that improvement is around the corner.

Will it be enough to make 2004 more successful than its predecessor? Read on.

The commercial book group at Walsworth Publishing grew by 101⁄2 percent, according to Kim Hawley, sales manager. A majority of the rise came via partnering with a handful of key accounts and margins felt a significant impact. Hawley sees an unsettled market on the publishing and vendor fronts, a trait he sees remaining unchanged in the coming year.

“We had significant growth in the niche children’s market due to our willingness to add specialized equipment to fit a particular partner’s needs,” Hawley says. “The medical market was up for us, in spite of the industry’s move to push more of this work overseas. We were able to come out ahead because some of the publishers recognized the value of our service, tech support and quick turnarounds. This helps them keep inventory down and allows them to focus on the publishing aspects of their business, rather than be distracted with communication, distribution and production related issues.

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