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$330 million USA book printing export window

Thursday, 06 September 2001
By Print 21 Online Article

The 24 US book publishers who said they were interested in sourcing book printing in Australia in response to a recent Austrade study, have a larger combined turnover ($330 million) than the $250 million that is generated by the entire local industry. But according to Hagop Tchamkertenian, Printing Industries Manager of Industry and Commercial Policy, they identified the costs of shipping and the distance involved to Australia as two major areas of concern.

“The challenge facing Australian book exporters is to address these perceptions, whether real or imaginary, identified by the study. For example, while travel distance was identified as an area of concern, the study also revealed that American publishers currently source much of their four-colour work from Asian destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore,” said Mr Tchamkertenian.

According to the study, cost, quality, service and delivery timeframes are the main factors considered by American publishers when considering new book printing suppliers. The cost factor was by far the most dominant criteria with 53 per cent of the publishers identifying it as the primary criteria, followed by 23 per cent who nominated quality.

According to Mr Tchamkertenian, Australian printers are ideally placed to meet these cost requirements not only because of the low Australian dollar but also because seasonal production factors work in their favour.

“The American publishers have their busiest season in summer, which corresponds with our winter. Capacity utilisation rates in web printing are at their lowest level during the period of May to June in Australia. Australian book printers can utilise this slow period in demand to service the book printing needs of American publishers,” he said.

Print runs and delivery times

Delivery times are also within the local industry’s capability with the publishers nominating a turn around of four weeks or more. Australian book printers estimate they need four to six weeks to deliver books into the American market. However they will miss out on re-prints which have shorter delivery needs of less than four weeks.

Most of the American publishers surveyed had between 101 to 500 book titles in print, with a significant proportion having between 2,001 to 5,000. The typical print run is up to 5,000, although it can rise to 50,000 copies.

Mr Tchamkertenian indicated that the snapshot study conducted by Austrade has fulfilled the brief it was given.

“We have just touched the surface of the iceberg, the real opportunities are likely to lie beneath the surface,” he said “While the low Australian dollar is conducive to increased exports, the development of an export strategy is a prerequisite for achieving export success. Now that the study has identified book exporting opportunities in the US, the next step is to draft an exporting strategy to help Australian book printers penetrate that market.”

The book export study which was funded under the Infrastructure and Industry Growth Fund component of the Enhanced Printing Industry Competitiveness Scheme also ties in well with a larger Printing Industries initiative – PRINT21. One of the key recommendations of PRINT21 concerns market development and Printing Industries views market development through exports as a viable strategy.

Copies of the Printing Industries/Austrade study can be obtained by contacting Hagop Tchamkertenian at Printing Industries on 02 9248 7300.

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