Covers, jackets, wraps, inserts and endpapers are all in the domain of component printers. PW found this industry sector reorganizing for speed and investing in technology for better, faster, more colorful results.

Phoenix Color
Phoenix Color was founded by industry veterans in 1979 and is now the largest of the component printers, with revenues of $130 million last year. Of that business, 80% is in components (jackets, case cover wraps, paperback covers, color inserts and sometimes decorative endpapers) and 20% is in book printing. Its book component division has two locations in Hagerstown, Md. Though its biggest market segment is trade, Phoenix's customers also include a range of elhi, university presses, religion, juvenile and reference publishers.

These days, component printing is all about speed, says Kelly Hartman, Phoenix marketing manager. To that end, all the equipment for diecutting, foil stamping and embossing is under one roof for maximum efficiency. This past summer, Phoenix added an in-house Smyth-sewing system for books that need extra durable binding. It also has a fleet of 12 Mack tractor-trailers so delivery can be made to most major binderies within a day. For example, this past spring, Phoenix received a reprint order for 48,000 covers for Little Altars Everywhere and delivered it to R.R. Donnelley in 12 hours.

To meet customer demand for shorter cycles, Phoenix's prepress services operate 24 hours a day. Phoenix also now offers softproofing, so customers can check proofs in real time online to review for content, color breaks and positioning of text. It's particularly helpful for reprints, says Hartman, and the quality is much better than a fax. For color accuracy, however, remote proofers in Phoenix's New York City office print out color proofs that can be reviewed and adjusted on the spot by the customer.

Hartman observes that many publishers are experimenting even more with covers these days to achieve a distinctive look in the marketplace. Metallic surfaces and foils catch the eye, as do ink over foil, holographic foil, lithofoil and spot glitter. Also popular is a process recently introduced by the company called VibraColor; it makes colors look brighter, prevents muddy blacks and makes it easier to match difficult PMS colors.

Phoenix's newest adjunct business is offering fulfillment services for smaller customers in partnership with Books International. The service includes front-office, back-office and warehouse services.

Like its colleagues, Phoenix sees an increase in long-term contracts, a byproduct of increased consolidation. It offers free training sessions to customers on PDFs, and recently did a session with Pearson's design and production staff. Phoenix is also one of the printers taking the lead with Tambora.

In addition to its cover work, Phoenix prints one- and two-color softcover and hardcover books domestically, turning around standard projects in three weeks. The average print run is 500 to 1,000. While the price may be higher than a book printed in Asia, Phoenix points out that the time to the publisher's warehouse is a lot faster, and cheaper.

Coral Graphic
Coral Graphic Services and its smaller parent, Dynamic Graphic Finishing, are one of the leading component printers in the country. For 2001, Coral Graphic finished with revenues of $76 million, while Dynamic Graphic, which specializes in foil stamping, embossing, etc., had revenues of $26 million. At Coral Graphic, most of the business comes from trade (65%) and educational publishing (25%), with 10% of the business in commercial printing, such as shelf-talkers for cosmetics giants such as Calvin Klein, Maybelline and L'Oreal.

In 2001, Coral Graphic Services was acquired by Bertelsmann, which allied it with another subsidiary, Dynamic Graphic Finishing, the latter founded by Dave Liess in 1986. Liess now serves as president and CEO of both companies. Having enjoyed a "phenomenal" 2000 and survived a disappointing 2001 that still saw 12% sales growth, Liess termed 2002 a year of recovery. "It's rebounding nicely, and we're getting our share of that pie," he reports. "In fact, we just broke an 18-year record at Coral. In August we produced more jobs and generated more revenue than ever."

Asked about trends, Liess immediately mentions smaller initial printings as well as cycle compression. "Runs are getting tighter all the time," he says and, as a consequence, reprints are now a whopping 60% of the company's business in trade and education. Turnaround time continues to shrink. Liess now looks back with some nostalgia on those "Oprah weekends," where the company had to print 1.5 million covers over a three-day weekend and keep it secret. Liess also pointed to another trend in the educational sector—printing over holographic foil with hexochrome inks—an increased use of an old technology to jazz up elhi textbooks.

With 97% of the work now coming in electronically, Coral Graphic is investing in the future. Last summer, it opened a state-of -the-art facility in Erlanger, Ky., a 40,000-square-foot plant featuring three Komori presses, GBC film laminators, Sakurai UV coaters, Bobst stamping and embossing, and 100% computer-to-plate technology. "This will be good for the educational book publishers and any of the trade publishers who do their binding in the Midwest," said Liess. "Our truck can leave at 11 a.m. and be there by 2 p.m." Coral's other main offices are in Hicksville, N.Y., and Winchester, Va., close to where the large publishers bind.

Coral operates more than a dozen remote proofing sites that allow clients to review proofs quickly. Each is equipped with a Imation Rainbow proofer and, with files transmitted digitally to the remote site via T-1 or ISDN lines, proofs can be available for viewing in seven minutes. Kodak Approvals, Colorkeys, HP proofs and Matchprint proofs are also offered. Gearing up for speed, Coral has also invested $1 million in archival storage and retrieval systems, with a new server that allows faster retrieval. "We plan our investment budgets carefully every year," says Liess. "We need to be on the cutting edge of technology."

Jaguar Advanced Graphics
Founded in 1989 by two printing veterans, Vincent Severino and Ronald LaVerde, Jaguar Advanced Graphics has grown from a staff of three to 132, with 2001 sales of $20 million. Severino and LaVerde set out to specialize in publishing and they have succeeded: 95% of the work is book publishing—clients include Simon & Schuster, Little, Brown, Penguin Putnam and McGraw-Hill—and the rest is whatever commercial business falls in their lap.

Like other component printers, Jaguar experienced a "fabulous" 2000 and a "downslide" in 2001. To combat the downturn, Jaguar added West Coast, Midwest and New England sales reps. As a result, says LaVerde, "We did rebound well and left the year with 35 new accounts." Business has improved since February, and La Verde notes, "It's becoming a very good year." He points with pride to new titles from James Patterson, Peter Jennings and Nicholas Sparks—all covers printed by Jaguar.

In 2000, Jaguar consolidated its three separate locations and moved into a 70,000-square-foot facility in Bethpage, N.Y. Jaguar now has computer-to-plate capability, remote real-time proofing via the Jaguar Web site, new equipment and a finishing department. Equally important, turnaround time is improved, since everything is now under one roof and Jaguar controls its own trucking.

All of the sales staff at Jaguar have worked for publishers or printers, so they can educate customers on PDFs. Added LaVerde, "It's our job to make the job printable." Once the file is ready, LaVerde says, he advises customers to allow one day for each process (printing, laminating, embossing). But, he notes, "we can turn a job around in 24 hours if we have to."

Among the cover trends, Jaguar sees a much more decorative approach to covers, with increased use of dayglo, glow in the dark and special substrates. The company also notes the impact of consolidation. "Well, the first impression is you have to sharpen your pencil, while giving the same service and quality," said LaVerde. "It's not easy. You have to be more efficient, more creative and expect more from your own camp."

Brady Palmer
Originally a printer of labels for paint cans, Brady Palmer Printing Co. entered the book business about six years ago, when v-p for operations Ray Marziano joined the firm. In 2002, about two-thirds of Brady's business will come from printing covers, jackets and inserts for book publishers, with one-third generated by its paint-label operation.

Since it entered the book business, Brady has upgraded its equipment several times. Its prepress work is all done digitally, and the company is close to adding direct-to-plate capability. It uses Unix-based Macintosh computers for design work and a combination of Heidelberg and Mitsubishi printers that generally run 17 hours per day in two shifts.

The majority of Brady's customers are trade publishers and university presses located in the Northeast and Midwest; John Wiley and Cornell Press are among its largest customers. The company is looking to expand its sales force, although the strategic plan calls for incremental growth, not explosive growth. "We want to make sure we can handle the load before we take on a big order," Marziano explained. An area Brady would like to break into is religion publishing.

According to president John Morris, business in 2002 is "okay—we're holding our own." The trend toward shorter print runs is definitely reflected in Brady's orders. "We'll do a minimum of 1,000," Morris said. One Brady specialty is printing on "metallized paper," which gives jackets a high-quality look. Brady also has a good reputation for meeting schedules. "We usually operate under tight turnaround times, and publishers appreciate our ability to hit deadlines," Morris says.