2005 Book Market Outlook -- El-hi Fuels Some Optimism
"We expect an upturn in demand for educational books starting in 2005," Mathews predicts. "State funding has stabilized, and a strong adoption calendar bodes very well for the elementary and high school textbook markets."
The consumer trade book business posted an average year, lacking a lot of the star power generated by a Harry Potter title that tends to drive that niche, reveals Ed Lane, book division president for RR Donnelley in Chicago. But the Windy City printer more than held its own on the one-color end, capitalizing on the few marquee titles that bowed, such as Bill Clinton's memoirs and the 9/11 commission report.
One pleasant surprise for Donnelley was the fact that the four-color consumer market enjoyed a successful year. It helped offset the weak reprint demand from publishers who are managing their inventories more aggressively, Lane reports.
Speaking of mild surprises, 2004 turned out better for Donnelley than anticipated on the education front. Customers initially thought adoption cycles would be weak, but a strong stretch run and the promise of major adoption rollouts have Lane excited about the market for not just the coming year, but 2006 and 2007, as well.
"We're preparing ourselves for the adoptions," he remarks. "We have press equipment coming online next year that will help us improve service to our clients and put us in a position to be able to meet the increased demand."
Donnelley's specialty segments—juvenile, professional, reference and religious—saw mixed results. What helped was the ability to send product that is less time-sensitive to Donnelley's China facility for production. It's part of an overall global sourcing strategy that also includes Mexico and Latin America.
Courier Corp. enjoyed the fruits of a successful education campaign, but the North Chelmsford, MA-based printer also aided its own cause by winning additional share from publishers, notes Peter Tobin, executive vice president. Specialty trade did not fare as well, with publishers being cautious not only about their backlist, but frontlist titles, as well.