Top 30 Book Manufacturers — The Plot Thickens
BB: How has the price and demand for paper affected the market?
CLARKE: Paper always has an impact, but I didn't see anything unusual last year that would have radically changed our position. I think that--as is what's going on in the printing, publishing and paper [industries]--there's a consolidation going on, and options diminish. We've been aggressive in creating very unique supply chain solutions for our publishers with some paper manufacturers, where we try to standardize paper and allow for several mills or different papers that everyone can choose from.
That accomplishes several things. It improves the asset base in the publishing community because they don't have paper on their balance sheets until they use it. The standardization of the papers means that we have paper and can go to press. And, the consistency of paper is good for manufacturing. The paper [companies] also now aren't breaking in and out of their production. So it's been a very successful program, and it's accelerating again because it serves all of those parties well. Other than that, I haven't seen huge price differences or huge volatility that would have affected our business.
MCFARLAND: Paper is a large portion of the cost of our product; increasing prices provide additional incentive to continually refine our processes and reduce waste. Our customers respond by carefully evaluating their print runs to hold down the amount they invest in inventory. McNaughton & Gunn has built strong partnerships with our suppliers. As demand increases and supply tightens, we work closely with our partners to meet our customers' delivery requirements.
KREHBIEL: During 2006, paper costs remained fairly flat. In my opinion, paper prices would have dropped during the year except that several mills removed unprofitable capacity from the marketplace. So the book market missed some of the cost benefits of reduced demand (and lower prices), because the mills systematically reduced total paper availability.