2005 Book Market Outlook -- El-hi Fuels Some Optimism
Waiting on the Economy
Going forward, Mathews sees the U.S. economy as playing the greatest role in the fortunes of the book segment. "We need continued strengthening in the economy to provide both consumers and schools with the necessary funds to fuel growth for both consumer, as well as educational, book products."
While Lane has faith in the education segment for the next three years, the Donnelley exec feels the trade segment will ride the wave of best-seller hits, as they are critical to the health of the overall market.
"From a Donnelley perspective, we continue to develop the complementary capabilities within our global sourcing strategy so we can meet customer needs," Lane says. "If they need rapid replenishment of product, we can use our domestic platform. And if they have sufficient lead time, we can leverage one of our international book operations to meet their requirements."
Like Lane, Courier's Tobin is looking forward to a banner 2005 campaign for the education sector. In terms of specialty trade, he's taking a wait-and-see approach. "Consumer confidence seems to be a little bit better," Tobin says. "It's an end-user game, and we're hoping for a good holiday season that could give us a good bounce into 2005."
Hawley expects 15 to 20 percent growth for Walsworth in the coming year, but he feels that profitability will be a critical factor in light of "eroding domestic markets." Hawley believes there is excess capacity in the one-color markets and feels some of it needs to go away for the health of the market overall.
"The sheetfed market for books is a slowly dying beast," Hawley says. "Overseas competition has ravaged the four-color book market for coffee table, art and juvenile products, and will very quickly work its way through the medical and school markets."