Book Printing–Passing Grade

BY ERIK CAGLE

School’s in session and book printers large and small couldn’t be happier.

The year 1998 will be remembered for a number of things in the book printing industry, such as the consolidation in both the publishing and manufacturing realms. Despite this M&A activity, the elementary/high school market, along with college level and juvenile books, propelled the industry. Even the trade market, with best sellers and Oprah Winfrey touting its virtues, couldn’t steal the el-hi/college thunder.

Top 10 Book Printers
  Company Segment
Sales
(millions)
Total Sales
(millions)
1 R.R. Donnelley & Sons
Chicago
$776.00 $4,850.00
2 Quebecor Printing
Montreal
$522.00 $3,480.00
3 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$240.00 $1,200.00
4 World Color Press
Greenwich, CT
$220.00 $2,000.00
5 Bertelsmann Industries U.S.
Berryville, VA
$163.30 $230.00
6 Golden Books Publishing
Sturtevant, WI
$160.00 $200.00
7 Courier Corp.
North Chelmsford, MA
$150.80(E) $150.80(E)
8 Phoenix Color
Hagerstown, MD
$110.00 $110.00
9 Taylor Publishing
Dallas
$99.00 $99.00
10 Maple-Vail Book Mfg.
York, PA
$78.00 $78.00

Despite the inconsistency of the overall market brought on by the consolidations, a reduction in overall press runs, as well as the growth of electronic-driven modes of reaching certain markets, 1998 will be seen as a productive year, according to Stephen Snyder, executive vice president of the Book Manufacturers Institute. The el-hi market must be watched, though, as the calendar turns to 1999.

“Across the spectrum of the industry, the trade, juvenile, school and college levels all enjoyed a very busy and good year,” Snyder notes. “There’s been peaks and valleys but, on balance, it’s been a very good year for the manufacturers, albeit with a great deal of pricing pressures from their customers.

“The uncertainty in the el-hi marketplace, in terms of numbers of publishers—how the whole Simon & Schuster/Pearson Group shakes out—is a very real question to many folks, as are other consolidations in the el-hi market. We believe that gross sales will increase, primarily because of the continuation of federal monies into the school programs.

“Where those sales will go and what plants they’ll go to, from our members’ point of view, is uncertain because the industry isn’t clear as to how purchasing will be done by fewer and fewer publishers,” Snyder says.

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