Book Printing Outlook — El-Hi, Hogwarts Shine

By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

The book printing industry resembles a high-level chess match. All of the successful players are thinking three and four moves ahead, with increasing market share representing “checkmate.”

RR Donnelley (RRD) and Quebecor World are just two of the book heavyweights that have established offshore printing relationships, or have obtained foreign facilities outright, in order to maintain those publishing clients who gush at the opportunity to produce low-priority goods at drastically discounted prices. Although it sometimes seems China is the poster child for international outsourcing, Mexico and Latin America are the alternatives of choice for Quebecor World, promising a quicker turnaround at the same price point.

Book Printers*
  Company Segment
1 Quebecor World
$660 $6,600
2 Visant Corp.
Armonk, NY
$638 $981
3 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$371 $1,523
4 Bertelsmann Arvato
New York
$243 $293
5 Courier Corp.
N. Chelmsford, MA
$211 $211
6 Taylor Publishing
$114 $114
7 Phoenix Color
Hagerstown, MD
$98 $98
8 Walsworth Publishing
Marceline, MO
$92 $103
9 Webcrafters Inc.
Madison, WI
$77 $77
9 Maple-Vail Book Mfg.
York, PA
$77 $77
Sales figures are based on above printers’ self-reported total and market segment breakdowns.

*RR Donnelley is not reflected on this list. The company no longer releases a breakdown of its segment sales.

What it does is spell bad news for the smaller book printer that cannot afford to invest in foreign assets. Fortunately, as 2005 will attest, there was plenty to go around. State adoptions have fueled wondrous growth on the education side, particularly the elementary-high school (el-hi) segment.

For trade and juvenile, well, can you say Harry Potter? The wizard-in-training returned to Hogwarts earlier this year, much to the delight of those fortunate enough to print the massive tomes.

One would be hard pressed to find a segment that disappointed in 2005. Flat growth in the religious sector, for example, was about as negative a term as the print leaders could muster. And 2006, from all indications, is looking like another successful campaign.

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