Book Printing--Passing Grade
"Our other focus is on service—education publishers these days are valuing service. Education outpaced trade to become our biggest market."
Courier reported record fourth quarter earnings for fiscal 1998, the highest revenues and earnings in the company's 175-year history. Earnings in Courier's book manufacturing operations increased 50 percent over last year's fourth quarter and 62 percent for fiscal 1998 compared to the previous year. Its sales of more than $150 million represented a 15 percent increase over the previous year.
Much of Courier's success, notes Courier Chairman and CEO James F. Conway III, can be attributed to the growth in religious and educational publishing.
"Sales of religious trade books, Bibles and Scriptures, are up," Conway notes. "Courier is benefitting from both trends. The growth in educational markets is being fueled by higher enrollment from grade school through college, increased educational funding in many states, more demand for customization and shorter revision cycles.
"Demand for four-color textbooks has been particularly brisk. In the last three years, Courier has built its four-color business to $12 million in annual sales. In response to rising demand, we invested in a third four-color press this year and in the latest computer-to-plate prepress technology."
Courier has also explored new markets in the area of customized education with two specialized business ventures—Copyright Management Services (CMS) and The Home School. CMS is a provider of coursepacks for the college market; The Home School is a direct marketer of books and educational products to home schoolers. Courier acquired the latter, a mostly-regional business, in September of 1997 and took it national in 1998.
Catalogs were mailed to more than 500,000 home-schooling families. Courier also launched the market's first subscription-based telephone consultation service.
"The key to growth for Courier is paying attention to the fundamentals while being innovative in the delivery of services," Conway notes. "The combination of strong core operations and new businesses under development bodes well for Courier's future."