BOOKS - Textbooks Lead the Way
Improvements were being made at Courier, as well. Tobin reports that his company spent $15 million in new equipment and technology this year, and plans to invest the same amount in 2000 to expand capacity and enhance responsiveness.
"Book manufacturers need to sink capital into new technologies such as computer-to-plate," he states. "The investment is significant, but customers appreciate the resulting quality and service."
Mead sees internal growth as an important part of the business. That's why Banta will continue to put forth capital in such improvements.
"We have significant capital expenditures planned for 2001 in areas of infrastructure growth and distribution services," Mead comments. "Although we were not immune from the industry-wide capacity crunch in the third quarter of this year, we have aggressive hiring and equipment installation plans for next year that will provide the growth cushion for our future."
Book printers that are stubborn when it comes to upgrading facilities and equipment run the risk of being left behind as the industry adjusts to the recent technological advances in printing. One of the most significant is digitization. According to the Printing Industries of America's recent Vision 21 Executive Summary, digitization will free book content material for repackaging and reuse. It will also enhance the availability of books, especially those less suitable for an extended print run. A significant market may develop for printing such titles.
Digitization is what moves on-demand printing, but Mead cautions that the larger companies may not be able to benefit from on-demand in the way that a smaller company might.
"On-demand is growing steadily, but tends to impact the short-run areas of the business," Mead notes. "It has great promise for the future in many markets, and the technology is steadily improving. We have invested significantly in this capability, but it has some limitations at the present in Banta's typical book markets."