2005 Book Market Outlook -- El-hi Fuels Some Optimism
Courier treats religious as a market separate from specialty, and Tobin characterizes its growth as steady. While the bible market has been flat, there has been an uptick in post-9/11 titles that deal with spirituality and counseling, especially in light of the ongoing strife in the Middle East.
"Many people are feeling the pressure related to this war, which drives them to seek counsel and words of comfort," Tobin states. "In response, publishers have responded by publishing a lot of support-based titles."
Variable market growth and a consistently weak price environment have made for a challenging year in the book market, notes Kevin Clarke, president of book and directory publishing services at Quebecor World, Montreal. The printer has responded with restructuring activities and productivity initiatives designed to give its manufacturing facilities increased focus and efficiencies.
Strong best-seller activity has bolstered Quebecor World's consumer share, while the continuity book business has been weakened somewhat by the national Do Not Call registry. What helped the printer's education market endeavors was the growth in ancillary products, while the college sector was buoyed by increased enrollments.
Quebecor World did enjoy a strong religious campaign, with fiction and non-fiction title output on the rise, Clarke notes.
Hard Work Pays Off
For Walsworth Publishing, based in Marceline, MO, 2004 was a year in which all of the planets aligned nicely. "We have been pounding the pavement hard for a number of years, and it all came together this year," states Kim Hawley, sales manager. "Our sales team's efforts were rewarded with 38 percent growth for our fiscal year (ending Oct. 2, 2004)."
The juvenile market was good to Walsworth in 2004, though soft retail sales projections caused it to tail off in the fall. The medical niche did not perform as well, with some publishers opting to outsource their production overseas.