Book Market Outlook -- El-hi, Potter Hold Keys To Success
With the economic environment constraining growth across most of the book market segments, publishers and printers focused on better cost management, improving efficiencies and reducing inventory levels with just-in-time print strategies, according to Jack Field, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Von Hoffmann Corp., St. Louis. This challenged printers to deliver on full-service solutions that drive cycle time and cost out of the supply chain, he adds.
Some Good, Some Bad
For Von Hoffmann, 2002 represented a mixed bag. The K-12 educational book market languished through a weak adoption cycle as pressure on educational funding due to the weak economy resulted in soft demand. Field believes this negatively impacted the introduction of new products, resulting in weakness of services such as design, premedia and new casebound titles.
"On the other hand, consumable K-12 product experienced growth," Field states. "The higher education market enjoyed stronger growth as enrollments increased and many students stayed in college rather than entering a weak job market. Computer books had another off year as more computer-related information continued to migrate to online or DVD media."
In order to flourish, Field believes service offerings need to emanate early on, empowering concepts through design, providing editorial services and composition services, handling premedia services, and overseeing content manipulation and management.
"Our acquisition and integration of industry-leading design and premedia houses several years back moved our involvement up to the very start of the publishers' value delivery chain," Field says.
Field also hopes that an improved economy will enable end users—schools and institutions—to have access to requisite funding in 2003.
"The second step is up to the information providers, both publishers and printers, to provide timely, high-quality products tailored to meet end user needs," he says. "Today, that also means dealing with multiple media formats such as print and electronic. It also means having the information when end users want it, at the least possible cost. As an industry, we need to look to new business models that will allow us to deliver on these needs and grow the market."