Book Printing Outlook -- Consumer Confidence Key
For North Chelmsford, MA-based Courier Corp., 2008 posed a number of challenges in markets that had exhibited strength in recent years. Peter Tobin, vice president, says the company saw unexpected softening in the usually solid elementary-high school (el-hi) market, as publishers hedged on orders due to school districts finding themselves under intense budget pressures. The generally busy season of late spring leading into summer was “quieter than expected.”
Cutting Back Print Runs
On the trade end, Courier enjoyed a solid campaign but, again, publishers cut back on print runs and took a pass on reprinting some titles—opting for a more conservative approach. Without star author power drawing people into bookstores, the opportunity was prime for election-year tomes to grab the spotlight. According to Tobin, that wasn’t the case in the 2008 season.
“In terms of blockbusters that get people talking about publishing, this wasn’t a year for that,” Tobin points out. “There’s some optimism that in tough economic times, when retailers predict a grim holiday season, it’s the kind of environment where people buy books. I’m hoping that will be the case this year.”
Courier put the finishing touches on its Kendallville, IN, four-color facility capacity expansion this year, and is in the process of constructing a 200,000-square-foot warehouse at the plant. In the past 10 years, the staff there has grown from 185 to more than 600. Courier also made an investment in adding to its sales force, which has raised revenues from existing clients and brought in new accounts.
A new greening initiative has been successful, as well. Courier launched a green labeling program for books called Green Edition. Using the Environmental Defense Fund’s paper calculator, Courier determines the environmental savings for the print run of a domestically produced book, based on using recycled paper as opposed to virgin grades. Publisher jobs meeting certain criteria may get the green label, and the printer has reeled in incremental business as a result.