Lightning Source POD Book News and a New E-reader App

By | October 8, 2010

An article in Publishers Weekly entitled “Not Your Father’s Ingram” talks about how Ingram’s Lightning Source continues to focus on print-on-demand (POD) technology for their book production. The Lightning Source division now has 4.4 million titles and has added more titles this year than at any time in its history.

According to Skip Prichard, the president and CEO of the Ingram Content Group, “We’ve seen an explosion of titles,” Prichard said, attributing that to a number of factors: traditional publishers doing shorter first printings and reprinting using POD; the growth of aggregators that print public domain titles; more self-publishing; and greater use of POD by academic presses.

Lightning’s ability to do short-run printing was an important factor in Ingram’s announcement with Macmillan in which Macmillan will use Ingram’s print-on-demand and distribution infrastructure to manage the publisher’s traditional inventory and POD needs for long-tail titles. Macmillan will use Ingram’s print-on-demand and physical distribution infrastructure to manage traditional inventory and POD for ”long tail” titles. Macmillan will continue to fully service its customer relationships from its primary warehouse in Virginia.

Macmillan senior VP and COO, Peter Garabedian acknowledged that Ingram does short-run printing and fulfillment better than his company and believes the agreement eliminates any physical constraints to Macmillan’s publishing program as digital publishing becomes more important to the industry. “As a premier and forward-looking publisher, Macmillan recognized that the future of publishing requires rethinking the business model,” said Prichard.

My question is this. If you’re a forward-looking publisher or printer and you are rethinking the business model how do you translate the shift in demand from print versions to pixel versions and make money?

One answer is the newly released Ingram VitalSource, their new Bookshelf application. VitalSource Bookshelf is an interactive, smart, and searchable application focused on textbooks and other learning materials.  Utilizing its built-in capabilities students can share notes and highlights with friends, classmates, and group members.  With an internet connection Bookshelf can check for new content, updates on notes or highlights, and update your content.

Bookshelf offers three ways to access their content. Direct download, online, and now mobile iOS devices, which is perfect for the targeted audience. College students and faculty can share large amounts of information quickly and easily.  Mobile study groups are covering more information more quickly with the innovation of this app.

An unknown at this point in time is the success of e-readers to reduce textbooks for students. Most people will assume that our kids are more likely to read pixels than paper. But as the Michigan State University survey is finding that is not always the case.

As we asked before, is it too early or too late to migrate to e-readers?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

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