The Short-run Kings
The two time-honored book printers have been caught up in the ever-widening ripples of a revolution in the publishing industry. In February Edwards Brothers and Malloy Inc. announced their merger, and their venerable brands morphed into Edwards Brothers Malloy. With 657 employees locally, 958 worldwide, the new company is the sixth-largest book manufacturer in the country and the area's third-largest private employer.
The backstory of the merger is about momentous changes in book publishing--changes that affect not only the area's many book manufacturers, but also authors, educators, booksellers, and readers.
Edwards Brothers has been in business in Ann Arbor since 1893. As the area's first "short-run" publisher, it specialized in printing orders that average 2,200 copies for publishers, authors, scholarly societies, industrial firms, universities, and others. But "in 2009 the economy imploded in conjunction with the advent of the e-book--two perfect storms," says John Edwards, who ran the family-owned firm from its sprawling plant on S. State. "Sales were down about 10 percent."
Last summer, Edwards says, he began thinking about joining forces with another company: He asked himself, "Who was hard-wired to be similar to me? Since we're a family business, it can get complicated. One name kept popping up--Malloy. They have a great reputation for service and a very strong financial foundation."