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Top 30 Book Manufacturers — The Plot Thickens

August 2007 By Matt Steinmetz
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IF 2007 goes down as "The Year of RR Donnelley," it will do so as a result of a 65-day span at the turn of the year, during which the conglomerate announced it would acquire three industry stalwarts: Perry Judd's, Von Hoffmann and Banta Corp. But the past year has been about more than consolidation and leveraged buyouts.

North American printers continue to grapple with the mounting menace that is offshore manufacturing, fluctuating paper prices amid a series of mill shutdowns, and the ever-evolving technological demands of their customers. And yet, despite these challenges, there are also a number of opportunities facing the market.

In this special report, top executives from five of the companies on Book Business' (PRINTING IMPRESSIONS' sister publication) 2007 listing of the Top 30 Book Manufacturers offer their insights into the influences shaping today's book manufacturing market.

This year's listing remains largely in line with last year's Top 30. Still, consolidations and takeovers opened the door for a few newcomers to the list, including Commercial Communications Inc., Data Reproductions and Integrated Book Technology. Visant Corp. again claimed the No. 1 spot, as RR Donnelley's refusal to report revenue garnered from books precluded their inclusion on the list.

Book Business' annual list of North America's Top 30 Book Manufacturers serves as the industry's most comprehensive ranking of the leading public and private book printers in the United States and Canada. Revenues for Canadian companies were converted to U.S. dollar equivalents, where applicable. The rankings include financial information voluntarily provided by privately held firms.

Despite Book Business' repeated attempts, some privately held companies refused to divulge their annual printing sales figures--or would not break down these sales by book revenue--and, therefore, were not included on the list.

BOOK BUSINESS: Have you seen any specific changes within the book manufacturing market over the past year?

KEVIN CLARKE: One of the things we're seeing is...the continued modernization and recapitalization of production assets, really based on several things. One, looking at where the market is headed, you have to have the horsepower to drive the huge book [the bestseller]...the opportunity book that comes about and has a potentially short lifespan. Second, [there is] a trend toward aggressive supply chain management, so you have a lot of smaller reprints. Much of the asset base is non-competitive in the U.S. market for that type of trend, and that's the reason we made our investments [in the company's production assets].


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