Worzalla Prints Bestsellers From Heart of City
By Jacob Mathias
Worzalla Publishing Company is celebrating its 125th year in business — expect many more to come.
“It’s amazingly kind of cool,” said Jim Fetherston, the fifth CEO in WPC’s history. “It’s so hard for a company to survive that long these days.”
WPC is a full-service printer of multiple styles of books including trade, children’s, young adult, gift, coffee table and cookbooks. As printer of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of books, WPC has produced over 100 million copies of this series alone as well as over 50 million copies of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
Other recently printed notables include Of Thee I Sing by President Barack Obama, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne and multiple movie tie-in books for both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilms.
Over 90 percent of WPC’s business comes from large publishing houses in New York City. While they print books all around the country and world, Fetherston said they come to Stevens Point to print their most high-profile books. When he first became CEO, Fetherston asked his top 25 customers why they come to Worzalla.
“It really was trust,” he said. “They believe that we do what we say and our quality is exemplary. In an industry where everybody is cutting corners because prices are dropping, we still pay attention to the details.”
According to Fetherston, WPC printed more books in 2016 than any previous year and is on track to beat that this year.
He said the movie tie-in books have become a large part of the business that didn’t exist a few years ago.
While some book printers struggled with the expansion of electronic reading options, particularly those that printed paperback romances, thrillers and other “airport” novels, the books that WPC produces are not as dispensable.
“When I got here, there was lots of stuff about, ‘the book is dead,'” said Fetherston. “The book didn’t become obsolete…our good fortune at Worzalla is that if you look around at the kind of books that we print, they’re the kind of books that you don’t just read once and throw in the back of an airplane seat and walk off without it.”
WPC was found in 1892 by by brothers Stephen and Joseph Worzalla who purchased a local Polish newspaper and began printing from an office in downtown Stevens Point. In 20 years, they’d expand to bookbinding in a new location on Second Street.
WPC’s current location at 3535 Jefferson St. was built in 1957. The building has been expanded 11 times since then and now stretches from Jefferson to Dixon streets.
The location seems out of place in its current neighborhood, but when it was built, there was nothing else in the area.
“We always say, ‘We were here first,'” said Fetherston.