Opportunities Are Everywhere
I visited a book printer today who reinforced my belief that there are many book printing opportunities right under our noses every day. The key is to ask enough questions and think clearly enough to see them all.
The book printer I visited was Bill Kirsch, PIP Printing in Burbank, CA. He currently prints several books for different customers and is considering expanding his book printing business. We had a pleasant visit during which he told me of several of the books he currently prints. We discussed his capabilities and opportunities for growth. By the end of the conversation, we had identified several printing opportunities based on the customers he already was serving.
To give you some examples of how I expanded his thinking into more printing products, let’s examine two of the titles he is printing.
The first is a spirituality book for a local publisher. The book is nicely designed, but the cover lacks the EAN barcode required to sell through the traditional book trade. Without the EAN barcode, the bookstore scanners cannot read the ISBN number or price. The first idea was to suggest adding an EAN barcode to the book. Adding the barcode will give the book more credibility to readers (readers expect the book to be sold through bookstores and the barcode is an outward sign of a “good” book). Furthermore, an EAN barcode will allow the publisher to sell the book through the bookstores, without going back to print, if she decides to in the future. Does adding an EAN barcode result in a large sale? Probably not. An EAN barcode costs around $25. What Bill gains, however, is respect from the publisher for thinking of ways to improve her book. What is that worth? And it gives him the opportunity to reprint the cover, too.
In further conversation, I learned that this was the third book this publisher has printed with Bill. If a publisher has three titles, the opportunity exists to create and print a catalog for that publisher. A catalog for a publisher of this size may be as simple as an 11 x 17 4-color sheet, folded to 8.5 x 11. The back panel is an order form and the first three panels tell about the publisher’s history along with a brief description of the three titles. A catalog like this is no different than product sheets or small newsletters that Bill prints everyday in his business. To this publisher, however, it is a new product and she will think better of Bill for recommending it.
Another book printing project we discussed was for a local high school. Bill prints the high school’s football program for each game. He has earned the confidence and respect of the school officials to print this highly visible program. What other products can he leverage from this? Schools are always looking for ways to make more money. Fundraisers are a staple every year. One product we discussed was to approach the school about printing a cookbook of recipes from the mothers of the boys playing football. Each mother would submit a recipe printed from a computer. Bill would collect the recipes, typeset them, lay them out as a book, print the book and deliver them to the school. The school would then market and distribute the books to the students and parents. If Bill sells comb or spiral bound book for $2 or $3, the school can sell the finished book for $8 or $10—making a $6 to $7 profit on each book.
This project is a win-win-win for everyone involved. The school has a novel product for a fundraiser that earns significant profit on each sale, the parents feel a part of the project by contributing to the recipe book and Bill sells more printing than he currently sells to this group.
The outcome of this visit is a lesson for all book printers. Look for ways to sell more books for your publishers. The opportunities are numerous. All it takes is asking questions and being open to new possibilities.