Book Manufacturing Outlook: Balancing Demand, Capacity
Despite all that 2020 heaped on the printing sector, the book manufacturing segment is going strong, driven by an isolated public renewing its connection to reading and, perhaps, by the multitudes of home-bound media experts frantically stocking their “credibility bookcases.” Book manufacturers are managing new ways of serving publishers and the broader market, and embracing new technology where it is advantageous.
The segment underwent a drastic shift during 2020, particularly with the divestiture of Quad/Graphics’ book plants from the segment, and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of LSC Communications. These two developments effectively changed the playing field for U.S.-based book manufacturers, and left numerous book publishers scrambling for available capacity.
This article features the insight of four book manufacturing professionals, to provide a better sense of the segment as it is today, and the factors driving opportunity and success. Interviewed were Matt Baehr, executive director of the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI); Jim Fetherston, president and CEO of Worzalla in Stevens Point, Wis.; Julie McFarland, chairman of the board and president of McNaughton & Gunn in Saline, Mich.; and Todd Roth, VP of Core Publishing Solutions (Thomson Reuters) in Eagan, Minn.
Current Book Trends
Citing recent consolidation and the level of sales in the segment, McFarland sees supply and capacity becoming a concern among publishers. She shared that current customers are keeping her company busy, and others are contacting them to assist with excess capacity. After a big drop-off in business during the spring (the height of the COVID-19 lockdown), and the postponement of a number of spring-scheduled projects (for the same reason), she says things have moved forward…