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BOOK PRINTING OUTLOOK — BEST-SELLERS FLOAT ALL BOATS

December 2006 BY ERIK CAGLE
Senior Editor
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IN GENERAL, when a best-seller hits the market, it directly or indirectly benefits the entire book manufacturing industry. The long runs clog up capacity for those fortunate enough to garner the job, and creates overflow that needs to be spread through the ranks.

Take Courier Corp., of North Chelmsford, MA, for example. The 2006 trade campaign started off slowly, notes Peter Tobin, executive vice president, but developed a head of steam in late summer and early fall, leading up to the holiday push. A degree of the pickup can be attributed to publishers hanging back on reprint orders. But what really lit the fire was a bevy of new titles by big name authors, including Stephen King and John Grisham. Those works generate the one- and two-million print runs.

“We don’t typically print those books, but the fact that these books are being manufactured has caused people to come to us for help in getting other titles manufactured,” Tobin says. “In the world of trade, there’s been more demand on capacity than people might have expected earlier in the year. Those who did print best-sellers were so busy that people came to us for overflow, so we benefitted.”

Courier saw a steady performance from the education market. While 2006 hasn’t been as robust for the industry as its predecessor, this appears to be a golden age of state elementary/high school (el-hi) adoptions, a span from 2005 through 2009 that will see a good deal of new and updated textbooks. Modest, single digit growth marked the higher education front, while the religious sector proved to be consistent, lacking in peaks and valleys.

Courier positioned itself to reap the benefits of a flush publishing landscape with the addition of a four-color MAN Roland Lithoman web press that was installed at its Kendallville, IN, facility in December of 2005. An identical match to the heavy iron installed in April of 2004, the Lithoman was largely tabbed to cover the demand for four-color el-hi books. The impact was so immediate that Courier placed an order for another Lithoman that is slated to be installed and running this month.

Sewing Up New Business

Between December 2005 and 2006, the company has invested more than $35 million in four-color capacity. Added to the mix were McCain and Smyth sewing capabilities, also as a result of the education market boom. The Kendallville plant grew by 65,000 square feet to house expansion in the bindery.
 

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