PI 400 — Books – Judging a Book

Robert Uhlenhop, president and CEO of Von Hoffmann Press, agrees that certain segments of the book printing industry have taken harder hits this year. And there may be more fallout in the near future.

“The economy has had a larger impact on our commercial markets than the education markets at the present time, although I anticipate that it will have hurt the education division in 2002,” Uhlenhop contends. “The impact of the economy on the funding priorities of state and local governments is uncertain.”

A History Lesson
Still, some book printers see things a little differently. Jerry Allee, president of book services for Quebecor World North America, sees 2001 as a transitional year from the record production levels set in 2000 to a market more in tune with historical growth trends. As with most periods of transition, the time getting back to “normal” can be marked with some difficulties.

“The course of this year has been directed by excess inventories carried over from 2000, as well as the economic downturn accentuated by the exogenous shocks resulting from the events of September 11,” Allee explains. “This has been especially true in the consumer and religious markets where initial quantities and reprint orders have been significantly reduced.”

Plain and simple, the book printing segment has not lived up to its expectations for this year, says David Mead, vice president of sales and marketing for the Banta Book Group. Mead points to a few reasons for this market falling short of strong pre-2001 predictions.

“There have been significant mergers and acquisitions of major publishers during the year,” Mead recounts. “High expectations from educational publishers for 2001 expressed in late 2000 did not materialize from a manufacturing perspective. Unit growth declined and educational publishers burned off inventory manufactured in 2000.”

Another curveball thrown into the book printing segment, caused by the terrorist attacks and the war on terrorism, is education publishers rushing to include this dark segment of our history into their newest text books, states Peter Tobin, executive vice president of Courier Corp.

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