Thirty-six-year-old Copy Cop, a privately held printing company with 14 locations in the Boston area, is turning to publishing to spur growth. Copy Cop Press, which will publish 16 regional titles this spring, is part of the company's million-dollar makeover announced in September, a figure that includes the purchase of a Xerox DocuColor iGen3 digital printer. Chief operating officer Paul Waldeck anticipates that Copy Cop Press and the iGen3, which can be used to produce short-run books and other custom work, such as calendars and note cards, will enable the company to increase revenue in 2004 by 15%.
Sheryl Read, v-p, business development for Copy Cop, was named publisher and will share responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the press with her husband, Trent Mutchler, v-p of operations. The only new hire is consultant Ralph Woodward, a retired sales representative, who helped Read develop and market the first list of adult and children's titles; gift rep group Krikorian Miller Associates is handling sales. "Part of what we wanted to do was to take advantage of existing staff," Read told PW. "The press started mostly because I was interested in antique books."
To test the market for out-of-print and public domain titles with a New England bent, Mutchler used Copy Cop's new press to print sample books, including Laws of Harvard College for the Use of the Students, 1816, a replica of the original rule book handed to new students in the early 19th century, and Colonel Russell H. Conwell's History of the Great Fire in Boston, about the 1872 disaster that destroyed hundreds of buildings in downtown Boston. Mutchler showed the books to local booksellers and got a good reception. "We were really surprised that people were so interested," said Read.
For Mutchler, part of the appeal of Copy Cop Press is the reduced risk made possible by digital printing. "You have very low inventory," he said. "It's economical to print 200 copies of a book. The key is the iGen3. It runs a 14"× 20" sheet and allows us to do wraparound covers." Previously, book covers had to be outsourced. With the iGen3, Copy Cop can print up to 2,000 paperbacks in a short period. Some local publishers have already signed on to use Copy Cop's iGen3 to create sample books of their own and to produce advance reading copies.
One unusual feature of the Copy Cop Press publishing model is that reps can use the same sales call to discuss new and forthcoming titles and to take orders from booksellers for personalized datebooks and custom books. Through Copy Cop, booksellers can provide print-on-demand titles to their customers as well as self-publishing services not typically available through bookstores.
Depending on the success of the spring list, Copy Cop will add more nationally oriented titles and national accounts. "For the time being, we're focusing on what kind of success we can have in the regional market," said Mutchler, who acknowledges that Copy Cop's terms—50% discount, nonreturnable—probably mean that the chains will pass, at least for now.