6 Changes in the Printing Landscape as a Result of the Pandemic

by Laura


Sheridan GR ZMR PressI’d be surprised to find a single industry, business, or person, that hasn’t been impacted in some way by the recent pandemic. Flexibility and change have certainly been key elements in powering through the past few months, along with keeping an eye on a brighter tomorrow.

The following is a guest post from John Beall, Regional Sales Manager for Sheridan’s book division.

Recently, a university press that we print for asked us what changes we have noticed in the printing landscape that have been caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. While we work with publishers of all types and sizes – university press, trade, religious, education, scholarly, self-publishers, etc – the changes that we’ve noticed are common across the entire industry.

  1. Reprint order activity increased as publishers realize higher than normal demand for mid to deep backlist titles. At the onset of the pandemic, initial print runs slowed dramatically as publishers were unsure of demand. The net result of both is a slight increase in overall book printing volume since July 2020 that continues through the first quarter of 2021.
  2. Print-on-demand (POD) order volume has greatly accelerated. Sheridan is committed to supporting this change with using technology to integrate with publishers to automate order processing and by increasing digital print capacity at our book plants.
  3. There have been some minor supply-chain disruptions and delays that have been caused by Covid-19 outbreaks at various supplier plants. Some materials have extended delivery times as a result of these disruptions. With warmer weather just around the corner and vaccines being distributed, we are hopeful that these disruptions will diminish.
  4. Demand for trade books in 2020 was up significantly over previous years.
  5. Use of print materials in higher education publishing has been falling for a while, and in 2020 it saw a more dramatic decline due to school closures and virtual learning. As noted by a recent article in Publishers Weekly, in 2020 “eBooks had its largest increase in use among faculty,” and “faculty members also reported that they had been personally exposed to new technology or courseware this year that they plan to continue using for the long run.”
  6. For some time, the print industry has been consolidating and Covid-19 has made it increasingly difficult to operate printing companies for a variety of reasons – spanning from recruitment to supply chain to trucking. CJK Group, Sheridan’s parent company, under the leadership of Chris Kurtzman, has recognized the need to rationalize print capacity in the book and publication space and has been at the forefront of this trend and as a result has stood strong through the pandemic.

You may ask, are these changes a sign of the future for print or just temporary? While many of them seem to be temporary, only time will truly tell.