The paradigm shift to on-demand and/short-run, just-in-time printing continues to gain track in book manufacturing, as the traditional book publishing model of large print runs, returns averaging 30 to 40 percent, and three to four week turnaround times just won't cut it with the realities of...
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The paradigm shift to on-demand and/short-run, just-in-time printing continues to gain track in book manufacturing, as the traditional book publishing model of large print runs, returns averaging 30 to 40 percent, and three to four week turnaround times just won't cut it with the realities of today's market.
The book publishing business is fielding constant pressure from companies that are outside of the normal publishing community. Amazon.com, for example, is not only a tremendous distribution channel but also a fierce competitor. Book publishers, in turn, are looking to minimize return risks, slash inventory and storage costs, and bring books to market faster. Publishers are changing how they manage the lifecycle of a title, printing targeted short runs, and adopting a just-in-time replenishment system.
The Move to Inkjet
"Publishers, trying to improve the supply chain and reduce costs, are reducing press runs, which is helping drive the move to inkjet," notes Peter Bouchard, Global Publishing Segment manager, Kodak. "They will do the first offset run under forecast and then quickly respond to demand with inkjet; maximizing the value of a book's lifecycle," says Bouchard.
Book manufacturers, already vested in offset and toner-based machines, are filling the gap with inkjet presses, such as Kodak's monochrome PROSPER 1000 and color PROSPER 500XL presses and Océ's color JetStream 1000.
In May 2011, Mercury Print Productions in Rochester, NY, installed a PROSPER 500XL to meet publishers' demands for just-in-time and short-run books in the educational/textbook market. "The book publishing industry is in the midst of dramatic change and our customers expect us to help them streamline supply chains and reduce overhead costs, such as inventory and distribution," says John Place, CEO of Mercury Print Productions. "Digital printing provides an answer and the PROSPER 5000XL press is the central element in our digital printing strategy. We're no longer constrained by volume. PROSPER press technology has vastly expanded the scope of and reach of digital printing."
Mercury's PROSPER 500XL is part of a comprehensive on-demand solution that includes Lasermax Roll Systems wide unwind and rewind units and finishing lines that feature the Stack 2230 systems that, via a Shuttleworth conveyer, feed a Muller Martini Sigma binder system.
"We are in an evolution right now, just like we were eight to 10 years ago, when we started moving book production from offset to toner," echoes Ray Sevin, president of manufacturing for the Bookmasters Group. The 40-year old, $100 million firm in Ashland, OH, installed a JetStream 1000 in October, 2011.
"No one wanted anything printed digitally, but as the quality of digital improved, publishers stopped caring one way or another," says Sevin. "We are going through the same thing with inkjet. Many publishers equate inkjet with the printer they have on their desktop, so out of the gate publishers snubbed their noses at it. And initially, there wasn't the range of substrates available; now we have the substrates and publishers won't see a difference."
It's a New Day
Similar to what happened in the commercial market, book printers are finding that the new order requires new business models and workflow optimization to meet the new challenges. "The velocity of orders going through the system increases dramatically with the short-run POD model," says Bouchard. "There could easily be 10 times the orders, putting pressure on book manufacturers' systems. Making it even more difficult, as their order number is increasing their time-to-market is decreasing."
Kodak has answered this scenario with a full range of services to help the book manufacturer make that transformation, from print optimization to workflow to business transformation services, known collectively as MarketMover Business Advantage Solutions. "We not only provide the printing device, but also the workflow and services to allow book printers to work in this environment," says Bouchard.