In-plant Keeps 'Soup' Cooking
Book publisher Health Communications struck it rich with the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Now its in-plant has its work cut out for it.
If the staff of book publisher Health Communications Inc. (HCI) believes in the curative powers of chicken soup, it's not without good reason. Five years ago the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based company was struggling to survive as a publisher of pamphlets and books dealing with drug and alcohol treatment. Then company president and co-founder Peter Vegso read a manuscript that made him cry, and he decided to publish it, not knowing it had been rejected by 33 other publishers.
That book, "Chicken Soup for the Soul," has become a publishing industry phenomenon, spawning a series of 16 related books (e.g. Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul, the Pet Lover's Soul, the Teenage Soul, etc.) that collectively have racked up global sales of more than 30 million copies. Needless to say, this has been very therapeutic for HCI's once-anemic bottom line.
Taking a chance on the original Chicken Soup recipe is characteristic of a company that has little in common with its publishing industry peers. Perhaps its most significant divergence from industry norms is its captive printing and binding operation.
"Most publishers outsource printing, but we prefer to handle printing in-house because it gives us maximum control of quality, scheduling, inventory and costs," says Terry Burke, vice president of sales and marketing. "Having our printing facility here allows us to respond to market needs quickly."
HCI's four sheetfed presses and one web press are housed in an 80,000-square-foot facility that currently is being expanded to 120,000 square feet. Presses include a 371⁄2˝, two-color MAN-Miller perfector, two 40˝ Komori presses, a 371⁄2˝, five-color MAN-Miller perfector and a two-color 38˝ Timson web with inline finishing. An 18-pocket Muller-Martini NORM binder handles perfect and lay-flat binding.