Top 30 Book Manufacturers — The Plot Thickens
KEVIN CLARKE: One of the things we're seeing is...the continued modernization and recapitalization of production assets, really based on several things. One, looking at where the market is headed, you have to have the horsepower to drive the huge book [the bestseller]...the opportunity book that comes about and has a potentially short lifespan. Second, [there is] a trend toward aggressive supply chain management, so you have a lot of smaller reprints. Much of the asset base is non-competitive in the U.S. market for that type of trend, and that's the reason we made our investments [in the company's production assets].
The other thing we're seeing is an impact on the U.S. market...with continued offshore manufacturing growth.
JACQUES GREGOIRE: We're seeing faster turnaround times and cycle times. We're also seeing more automation in prepress, and the use of a lot more digital and electronic communication on that side to shorten the cycle time. We have also seen a lot more use of the wider webs and more output per man per hour. When publishers have time, they...save money by going offshore. Those who remain here typically are looking for much faster turnaround and cycle times.
JULIE MCFARLAND: The interdependency of the firms involved in delivering books from concept to consumer was reinforced last year. We worked closely on financial terms with a number of customers who were severely impacted by the bankruptcy [at Advanced Marketing Services].
TUCK KREHBIEL: The major changes within the book manufacturing market that we have identified the past year or so include some growth in volume and a guarded confidence within the market since conditions are stable overall.
BRENT HEGWOOD: Rising paper costs and the need to reduce costs associated with excess inventory and scrap have driven the market to dramatically reduce run lengths. Short-run, on-demand printing is increasingly becoming the trend among book manufacturers.