Malloy Reaps Benefits From the ‘Oprah Effect’ —MichelsonJanuary 2011
Oprah Winfrey is undoubtedly one of the most influential, and richest, women in the world. With an estimated 42 million viewers each week, The Oprah Winfrey Show will end its 25-year run in September. She's also known for her philanthropy, as well as successes in film, books, radio and on Broadway through her Harpo Productions. In a joint venture with Hearst, Winfrey also publishes the monthly O, The Oprah Magazine. And, Harpo Productions' latest, most ambitious, endeavor was the launch of Winfrey's own cable network, called OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, earlier this month.
Oprah's Book Club segment on her talk show—which recommends new books and classics, in addition to some obscure titles—has often created best-sellers. Such was the case with "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo, which rose to the top of the best-seller list after being selected last fall as one of "Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things" for the holidays. Written in 2000, the 448-page imprint is owned by publisher Red Wheel/Weiser. Ann Arbor, MI-based Malloy Inc. has done all of the printings of the soft-cover book that, up until Winfrey's selection, had amounted to 50,000 copies.
Upon learning the good news, Red Wheel/Weiser execs were excited, but also concerned about printing a large inventory of a 10-year-old, backlist title on speculation that the publicity would reinvigorate sales. So, they inquired about the book printer's flexibility to ramp up production if sales really did take off. That's where Malloy's "Title Support Services" option came into play, which allows publishers to maintain lower inventory levels due to Malloy's guarantee of expedited deliveries for reprints and new titles.
Bill Upton, Malloy president, notes that copies of the best-seller list with "The Book of Awakening" listed at the top were posted throughout the plant. Having now produced 160,000 copies in seven printings since mid-October, "No one is ready to cry uncle yet about working overtime," he says. "In fact, the level of enthusiasm has ratcheted up with each additional order. It's been like going to a concert and hearing the crowd cheer louder and louder with each encore that the band performs."
With a fleet of eight Timsons book presses, in two press types, providing the redundancy needed for rush jobs, Upton says it's a seamless operation for his prepress department to move an incoming order from one press configuration to the other. And, with reprint jobs, he knows there won't be any problems with the files. Malloy has also put a great deal of effort into improving its customized scheduling system, which has been built around the "Theory of Constraints" management philosophy first developed by Eli Goldratt. To ensure that the necessary paper is available whenever needed, Malloy has developed a just-in-time inventory system in partnership with its supplier, xpedx.
This past holiday season was certainly a bountiful one for the 230-employee, family-owned printing operation. Aside from "The Book of Awakening" press runs, Malloy churned out 400,000 copies in all of two other hot sellers. One is a hard-cover book that has been featured on a popular television show; the other is on the New York Times' best-seller list. "We've actually outperformed ourselves by being able to do many print runs that exceed our stated maximums for expedited schedules," Upton reveals. Perhaps a sign that—like the name of the book—the business outlook for innovative, quick-turnaround printers like Malloy Inc. is awakening, as well.
Mark T. Michelson