Log In | Become a Member | Contact Us

Market Intelligence for Printing and Publishing

Connect on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Featured:     Printing Forecast 2018     Production Inkjet     Installations and Placements Tracker

Kent Larson of Bridgeport National Bindery on changes in the book publishing industry

Published on September 14, 2012

Kent Larson, VP of Bridgeport National Bindery, talks to Cary Sherburne about transitioning their business from a bindery to full book printing services and the changes he's seeing in the industry.

Cary Sherburne: Hi. I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Kent Larson who’s Vice President at Bridgeport National Bindery in western Massachusetts. Welcome.

Kent Larson: Thank you, thank you.

Cary Sherburne: So you’ve migrated your business really from being a bindery, a case bindery, to now having full book printing services, and I wonder if you could just talk to us a little bit about the changes that you’re seeing in the book publishing industry and, you know, what are the publishers thinking. Is it still hard to drag them into this digital world?

Kent Larson: Yeah. Well, I think that the idea of getting in a publisher’s head right now is probably possible. But some of the trends that are happening clearly are shorter run links, getting into just in time delivery, and going if not short run just in time to pure, true on-demand. The marketplace is clearly becoming more of a B-spoke operation. It’s becoming much more of a I don’t want to warehouse anything situation. And as publishers are trying to manage their titles, manage their backlists, the idea of digitization is really kind of happening in two areas—one, digitization for e-books; but number two, digitization for files to manage your flow of sales.

So for instance, a publisher would be willing to say why would I ever want to start anything out of print again, capture that sale…

Cary Sherburne: Mhmm, monetize their backlist.

Kent Larson: Absolutely, ad infinitum. You know, the classic, long tail approach, which allows that to really, you know, keep money in their pockets forever. The key is how do you manage that workflow, how do you manage that ordering process, how do you manage that manufacturing process, and ultimately that time is currency. It’s how quickly can I get that product in the hands of my customer, because right now my customer can just click a couple of buttons and they can get a digital version…

Interview: On their Kindle Fire.

Kent Larson: On their Kindle, exactly, or on their NOOK or on their iPad. We believe pretty strongly that the printed word, the physical book, is not going to go anywhere. The physical book is going to be around; it’s just how it’s going to get to the consumer. That’s what really is mattering the most. And what we try to say at our operation is simply that the content matters, and the way that we package the content is in a physical book, and that’s what we try to do.

Cary Sherburne: And then your customers then are, your customers are who—the publishers and higher education?

Kent Larson: You know, yes. Our customers are really not higher education. We have not gone really into that space. Our customers are really the publishers who would want to really think differently about their warehousing and really think differently about going true print-on-demand and putting all their titles, honestly, on a server and then routing the digits to order that book. One book goes to the bookstore in California. Another book goes to the individual in Texas who bought it. It’s as simple as that. And we also do a lot of POD work for the author-driven—a lot of the startups, a lot of the innovative IT companies that are coming out, whether they’re photo book companies or whether they’re true publishing companies that are starting out on the Internet.

Cary Sherburne: You know, it’s kind of interesting because you came into it from the bindery perspective and added printing. Was that kind of a struggle? You know, people are always saying oh printing, you know, it’s all customized and you have to have all this craft. But you came in with digital printing, you know. How was that transition?

Kent Larson: You know, honestly, I think going from the perspective of being a bindery back up the production chain was not as difficult for us simply because the hardware, the presses that you put in are pretty solid. Obviously, we were a blank slate and really didn’t know too much about printing anyway, so we didn’t have some of the preconceived problems. But we basically put these boxes in and started printing and obviously, we developed an MIS system that really assisted us. But I think it’s honestly easier. I don’t say that in a bad way, but I think in some ways knowing the binding part is really almost more difficult, particularly on a hard cover binding perspective, which is really what we specialize in.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah, a lot of high touch.

Kent Larson: Yeah, yeah. And there’s a lot more touch points with a case binding operation that takes a lot of money and you’ve got to be very careful with your workflow. Whereas, automating the print side of things seems to be a little bit easier, right?

Cary Sherburne: Yeah.

Kent Larson: The physical book, once it gets printed, is a little bit more difficult and that’s the part that we kind of had understood.

Cary Sherburne: Well, I wish you well in helping the publishers’ transition to this new are of business. I’ve been polling this market for a long time as a lot of our viewers will know, and it just seems like, you know, we were talking about books-on-demand in 1994, I remember when I worked for another company. But it’s taken a long time, you know, for that message to get through even though there’s such huge waste in the supply chain. It’s just kind of interesting.

Kent Larson: Yeah. It takes a long time to turn an industry around. But the tipping point is we’re in the middle of it and the idea is simply to manage what you’ve got, the publishers have assets of content, and manufacturers have the ability to innovate. And you marry those two things together and you’ve got a pretty dynamic strategy for a long term business.

Cary Sherburne: Well, good luck to you.

Kent Larson: Thanks, appreciate it.

Email Icon Email         


Post a Comment

To post a comment Log In or Become a Member, doing so is simple and free



Recent Videos


Video preview: CustomInk Believes Co-Opetition Is a Win/Win for Suppliers, Producers, and Customers in the Garment Decoration Industry

CustomInk Believes Co-Opetition Is a Win/Win for Suppliers, Producers, and Customers in the Garment Decoration Industry

Published: March 21, 2018

Andy Louis-Charles, Vice President of Business Development at CustomInk, one of the largest online custom apparel companies in the U.S., talks about the importance of mutually beneficial partnerships with others in the industry. He believes this practice of "co-opetition" raises the level for everyone in the industry. Custom apparel for events is a $7 billion industry—there's lots of room for everyone and an opportunity to grow the pie. With a bigger pie, everyone gets a larger slice, he says.


Video preview: Does Your Brand Reflect What You Are Made Of?

Does Your Brand Reflect What You Are Made Of?

Published: March 20, 2018

Robert Prioleau, Partner and Brand Director at the Blue Ion agency, and a principal of Outpost, another agency, explains what he meant during his talk at ThreadX, when he said, "The best brands are defined by what they are made of, not by what they make." What values, purpose, mission and cause are you bringing to the table on top of your great products and services?" Hear what he has to say, and think about how you can apply his advice to your brand.


Video preview: Is Your Tech Pack Smart Enough?

Is Your Tech Pack Smart Enough?

Published: March 19, 2018

Matthew Cochran, CCO of of Purchase Activated Apparel Technology (PAAT), is building an open digital product development network, looking to augment the traditional tech pack that is the DNA of a product. His Smart Tech Pack (STP) technology is a machine-readable file that takes some of the opportunity for human error out of the garment manufacturing process. The goal of this digital product development network is to move to a design-sell-produce model as opposed to today's design-produce-hope-to-sell model.


Video preview: “Don’t Put Pictures of Your Press on Your Website”

“Don’t Put Pictures of Your Press on Your Website”

Published: March 16, 2018

Print business owners need to have an effective “content strategy” for their websites and other online presences. John Foley, CEO of interlinkONE & Grow Socially, talks about the reasons for developing a content strategy, as well as some dos and don’ts for online content.


Video preview: Frankly Reading

Frankly Reading

Published: March 16, 2018

Frank recommends two books, one on sales training and one on applying online print. They are “25 Best Sales Tips Ever” and “Keep Calm and Print On.” This one would be funny if you had pop-ups throughout it.


Video preview: Analog-to-Digital Transformation Is Disrupting the Textiles Industry

Analog-to-Digital Transformation Is Disrupting the Textiles Industry

Published: March 15, 2018

Mark Coudray, Founder of Catalyst Plan, has nearly 50 years of experience in graphic communications. He talks about the analog-to-digital transformations that have occurred in the industry over the past few decades. The fourth iteration of analog-to-digital transformation is revolutionizing the discipline of marketing and having a huge impact on the textiles and apparel industries. He offers guidance to buy time and gain breathing room.


View More Videos


Become a Member

Join the thousands of printing executives who are already part of the WhatTheyThink Community.

Copyright © 2018 WhatTheyThink. All Rights Reserved