Digital Book Printing, More Publishers Waking Up to the Benefits

By | August 6, 2008

Book Business Magazine has an article in this month’s issue on digital book printing and print on-demand (available online here).

The article points out the success PublicAffairs, an imprint of The Perseus Books Group had with moving one its fast selling books to a print on-demand model at Lighting Source:

Demand went vertical, and there was a period of time when orders were coming in and they [didn’t have] any copies … [available] anywhere,” says Lightning Source President David Taylor. “So John Ingram said to Peter Osnos, ‘Look, give us the file, and we’ll set it up as an on-demand model, and we’ll fulfill at least some of those orders.’ ”

The problem for Perseus became an opportunity for Ingram to show the world the value of on-demand digital printing.

“We got the file from them on the Monday morning after BookExpo America, and we were printing the first books that afternoon,” Taylor recounts. “We actually moved over our entire casebook production to just that book for a period of 48 hours. We printed several thousand copies, and those were orders that otherwise would have just [been lost] or would have not been fulfilled. When the offset order came back in, we switched it off.”

An interesting comment from Edwards Brothers CEO John Edwards on not using digital to describe the printing process:

“I’m trying to not call it digital anymore,” he says. “It’s short-run. I don’t want to have to differentiate anymore [between digital and offset]. We’re focusing on making it seamless for the publishing community as far as how [a book is] made.”

This makes a lot of sense. There are still a lot of print buyers in the industry that perceive digital as inferior. Something that is easily debunked by showing printed product samples.

Read the whole article at Book Business.

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2 thoughts on “Digital Book Printing, More Publishers Waking Up to the Benefits

  1. RDP

    Just curious, where was the cost savings in producing “several thousand” hard cover books digitally, versus offset? Please explain in depth. Thank you

  2. heidi

    In this industry, people associate me with 1:1 printing analysis and evangelism, but in my “other” life, I run a small Christian publishing company. All of the titles published through Strong Tower Publishing are handled by Lightning Source. I don’t think of this as “print on demand.” I think of it as “zero inventory” publishing.

    Going zero inventory allows me enormous flexibility that is worth the hit on margins that I take — if I even take a hit. I don’t pay for shipping. I don’t pay for invoicing and collection. I don’t pay for gas or envelopes or packaging tape. I don’t lose a half-hour of time I could be spending making “real” money writing about 1:1 printing (grin) by driving to the Post Office.

    If there is a spike in orders, I don’t worry about whether or not I have inventory on hand. LSI just takes care of it. If a single order comes in, I don’t have to wonder when I’ll have time to go to the Post Office. I just log in and order a one-off and let LSI take care of it. It allows me to better manage my time and focus on the elements of my business that are the most profitable without me having to give up the elements (book sales) that aren’t.

    It’s a whole different mentality about book publishing than I had when I went into this eight years ago (when I was “printing on demand,” inventorying all of my titles, and fulfilling them myself).

    This is the transition that will ultimately take place in this industry — and one that IS taking place already. It’s not about cost per book or print on demand. It’s not even about saving money on warehousing or obsolescence. It’s about building a business model around the flexibility that this business model offers. Like 1:1 printing, Web-to-print, and every other application digital print production enables, it’s about allowing digital printing to completely transform how you think about you build your business. It’s a whole new way of thinking about things that is completely untethered to traditional ways of thinking.

    Heidi Tolliver-Nigro
    Digital Printing Reports

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