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Book Manufacturing in Turmoil – May 2024 M&A Activity

Book Manufacturing in Turmoil

Change continues to rock the book manufacturing business. Contracts for book printing and bindery services have declined as publishers pull back on new orders and work off the excess inventory that built up in response to demand during the Covid years. Print-on-demand book technologies are placing further downward pressure on traditional book manufacturing. Although there is widespread confidence that the printed book will survive the digital onslaught better than many other forms of print, there are shifts and cracks in the book printing world.

Consolidators are buying companies with long histories and respected pedigrees that have served and continue to sell to the trade and educational publishers. At the same time, others are closing down huge manufacturing facilities as overall volumes decline in certain segments. On-demand digital ordering, prepress, and printing technologies, driven primarily by the plethora of installed highly productive continuous form inkjet printing devices, has reduced the need for publishers to order long runs and keep large inventories.

Robust Acquisition Activity in Book Manufacturing

Grafica Veneta (the GV Group), based in Trebaseleghe, Italy, acquired P.A. Hutchison, a traditional book manufacturing company with an annual production capacity of 50 million books. The acquired Pennsylvania company is over one hundred years old and focuses on the production of textbooks and other educational materials. GV group announced plans to install four-color web printing capability at the plant and increase annual capacity to over 100 million books. Left unsaid is whether the web printing technology will be high-volume traditional offset or be based on more nimble digital color print engines.


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