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Posted on Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Edwards Brothers invests $5.48M in Ann Arbor book manufacturing facility

By Nathan Bomey

Electronic books loom as a threat to book printers, but Edwards Brothers is pressing ahead with a $5.48 million investment to upgrade production capabilities at its Ann Arbor headquarters.

John J. Edwards, president of the 117-year-old short-run book maker, said the investment would boost Edwards Brothers' capacity to manufacture large-format books such as college textbooks.

"Every day you hear about the e-books taking over the world, but the textbooks are still pretty solid," he said. "The e-book is here to stay, no question about it. For the textbook products we produce, if it's been impacted it's been small, and you just see more of a focus on customization."

Ann Arbor City Council on Monday approved a tax abatement for the company's latest investment. The firm is installing a new "zero-make-ready" press that will allow it to minimize print stoppages by switching plates in and out efficiently.

"We appreciate the support of the city. Anything they can do to help us be more competitive is a good thing," Edwards said. "It ultimately creates jobs."

Edwards said Edwards Brothers now employs about 420 workers at its 185,000-square-foot facility on South State in Ann Arbor, up about 20 this year, and 250 in North Carolina.


Edwards Brothers President John J. Edwards, seen here in a photo from 2007, said revenues are stable.

File photo |

The firm is expecting revenues in the range of $78 million to $80 million for 2010, which would be higher than 2009 but lower than 2008.

"I think 2011 will probably be similar to 2010," Edwards said, adding that he's not expecting "major growth, but I think the market is pretty stable."

One factor that could affect the bottom line is the K-12 textbook market, where school district administrators are crunching budget figures to determine whether they can afford new books.

"That's heavily influence by tax revenues and we all know that's shrinking, so that market is feeling some pressure," he said. "At the same time there is an obsolescence factor to what's out there. So the textbooks that are out there are starting to wear out."

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 1:02 p.m.

So I'm not the only one who had their negative comments towers Edwards Brothers removed...


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 11:57 p.m.

It's interesting that several comments that are not so favorable towards EB have been deleted today without notification. Are they not allowed? I'm wondering how many other comments are deleted regarding other supposed articles? Kind of scary. Glad to hear EB is surviving in the digital age. Maybe this means they can call back many of the great employees they have laid off over the last two or three years? Or return the pay cuts? Happy Holidays!


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 10:45 p.m.

Books are dead. I don't even read. Just the comments. Now what were we all upset about?


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 9:37 p.m.

That's great to hear, especially since I have not read a book in years and dropped out of college in part because I could not afford the always 'new edition' college textbooks that they produce. If I knew what 'ponzi scheme' meant I would describe it as such, but I don't because I don't read books.


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 8:08 p.m.

As a past employee of Edwards Brothers, I can say "yes they have plenty of long term employee" BUT they also get rid of them to save cost and as for them "making" new jobs all I can say is as little as 5 years ago they employed 600 in Ann Arbor......nuff said


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

Textbooks are one of the biggest hardships and scams especailly for low income students. Such a waste of natural resources to print, distribute and sell. Now that the music industry has bent to the will of the consumer we will now turn our attention to the print industry. I give it 2 years at most till both students and teachers are at 90% e-Textbooks. Teachers are already switching to online versions from Wiley, etc with integrated homework every day and some aren't even requiring the print version since its all online. This too shall pass. Print is dead, long live iPad.


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 1:29 p.m.

From what I've heard, the employees at Edwards Brothers love working there. They have many employees that have been there over 25 years. How many businesses nowadays can boast of that? Also, I've done work for one of the owners. They were generous to a fault. I hope they keep printing for another 100 years.

Bob Martel

Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

It's nice to see a local business doing well!


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

I'm an employee with 30+ years and I couldn't work for a better employer!

Linda Peck

Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

Great news! Ann Arbor can be proud of Edwards Brothers. What a boost to our Michigan economy!


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

Edwards Brothers rocks, thanks for your support of Ann Arbor and the surrounding area.