Book Printing Outlook: Trade, Higher Ed Better
A range of one- and four-color digital solutions buoyed the printer's conventional offerings and allowed it to offer customers the ability to produce quantities from one to a million units as publishers sought to improve their turnaround times and reduce inventories. Included in these initiatives was the exclusive agreement with Muller Martini to create the first high-speed, in-line ink-jet printing and book binding system. RR Donnelley will take delivery of the first six integrated systems in the United States in 2010 and 2011, according to Lane.
"We believe that innovative technology such as this will deliver the potential for game-changing advantages for our customers, as well as for our cost, scheduling, production and quality dynamics," he says. "We've developed these innovations in response to publishers' demands for better inventory management, for ways to help mine value out of backlists, and for one-stop capabilities to produce and manage both short- and long-run volumes."
Courier Corp., of North Chelmsford, MA, also competes in the education and trade markets, along with religion. Like Donnelley, Courier enjoyed a strong effort in higher education, buoyed by a wave of people going back to school, notes Peter Tobin, vice president. Four-color textbook demand kept the presses humming at Courier's Kendallville, IN, plant. Textbook purchasing deferrals brought about by lackluster tax resources, however, have stymied the el-hi sector.
On the plus side, Tobin says the company has enjoyed nice growth in a number of areas on the trade front—traditional book staples such as cooking, crafts, gardening and business asserted themselves once more in 2009. The religious segment, which relies in part on charitable contributions from its membership, has seen its resources shrink; predominantly a function of the economy as opposed to a fundamental shift.
"We've been fortunate to bring in some new customers in the trade area this year," Tobin notes. "We actually did pretty well in trade with a mixture of the types of books we produce, and the new customers we were able to bring on board."