Book Printing--Passing Grade
John Boylan, president of the Quebecor Books group at Quebecor Printing (USA), feels 1998 will be viewed as successful in his company's targeted markets. Quebecor, he reveals, used the year as a chance to focus on its strength segments, thus concentrating resources in areas where it could provide customers quality and service while still maintaining profitability.
Heading into 1999, an excess in industry capacity is one of Boylan's primary concerns.
"The new presses being added to the existing capital stock provide substantially higher output than the equipment being replaced," he remarks. "The net impact is that capacity is increasing faster than the corresponding demand. The inevitable result is intense price competition among printers. Adding to this situation is the fact that very little of the old equipment is scrapped; it either continues on the floor or gets a new life at another company. This only magnifies the over-capacity situation."
Boylan laments that unless the issue of the supply/demand imbalance is addressed, margins will only continue to decline, hurting printers and, inevitably, the level or service and quality provided to customers.
Still, he sees 1999 as a year of opportunities for book manufacturers positioned to take advantage of them.
"We are improving our focus, lowering our cost structure and rationalizing our position with respect to the market environment facing us," Boylan says.
Terry French, marketing manager of Courier Corp., North Chelmsford, MA, describes 1998 as a tremendous year for his company. Not surprisingly, the education market spearheaded the charge, along with a solid influx of business from the religious segment.
Even with a reduction in the software documentation market, where the number of printed manuals is dwindling considerably, the education market has been lucrative.
"Enrollments have increased within all levels of education and funding is up," French notes. "More and more educational books are now four-color; we've expanded our four-color capabilities significantly in the last few years and it's paid off for us.