Book Printing Outlook : Riding the Higher Ed Wave
Freschi underscores the impact digital readers are having on the trade segment. Quad estimates the overall digital share stands at around 20 percent, and some best sellers will see as much as 50 percent of their overall units accounted by electronic sales. Freschi senses institutional resistance to change in the education markets; e-books are generally viewed as a value-add.
“E-books do reduce total print sales, but they also make demand planning more difficult for publishers,” the Quad executive notes. “As a result, reprint lead times are dropping. The fall trade cycle has seen a higher peak relative to the summer than in prior years.”
Heading into 2012, Freschi sees more of the same: e-book growth will continue, with more bundling of print and digital formats. Publishers will continue to avail themselves of short and multiple POD runs; e-books also enable targeted niche titles to become economically viable. Newcomers and non- conventional retail sources will help offset the loss of Borders.
For Courier Corp., of North Chelmsford, MA, it’s been a year of mixed blessings, with positive results on balance. On the plus side, higher ed was bustling, with customized college textbooks stoking the flames, according to Peter Tobin, Courier vice president. The religious market proved strong, as well. But, while high expectations were not held for the el-hi sector, it proved to be a disappointment, nonetheless. Texas—one of the nation’s Big Three adoption states—spent the year spinning wheels on its adoptions, causing publishers to temper their orders.
The Borders closure proved to be a surprise and greatly impacted trade publishing, as many observers expected the company to emerge from bankruptcy smaller, but healthier. With liquidators pushing out Borders inventory to second-tier retailers, like dollar stores and wholesalers, a short-term impact was felt by other booksellers, with remainder sales temporarily flooding the market.