"Our overall production of units, especially trade books, dropped 20 percent from 2010 to 2012, while the number of titles produced has exploded," Upton says. "These are mostly new titles, many self published." Instead of ordering thousands of books at a time, those buyers want just a handful of copies. And instead of offset presses, those super-short runs are printed on digital presses--essentially, giant photocopiers. "Between the two plants, in a typical month we produce 1,000 titles in offset, and 1,000 per day in digital," Upton says.
After 120 years, the company's managers are determined to survive the changes. "The fifth generation is close to coming into the business," says Jim Edwards, John's brother and CEO of the company's publishing arm. "Our mission is unchanged; our resolve is unchanged. Our markets are constantly evolving and have been since the company was founded in 1893."
One thing was clear: they didn't need two large offset printing plants in Ann Arbor any more. "There are a lot of inefficiencies with two buildings," John Edwards says. "For example, it costs a million dollars a year to heat and cool [the] State St. [plant]." Moving people and equipment to Malloy's plant will raise costs there but between the efficiencies of operating in a single building and not using the offset presses, Upton estimates, they'll save $600,000 a year on utilities alone.