Special Report: Digital Printing: What’s New and on the Horizon
Digital book printing overall is experiencing double-digital growth. The recession, although unwelcome in all quarters, has provided a boost to digital book manufacturing as publishers take a harder look at their processes and cut back on inventory and waste. Since digital printing market- and technology-research firm INTERQUEST's last major survey of the market, conducted in late 2007, the industry has seen widening adoption of digital book printing for short-run inventory management, and a growing interest in distribute-and-print to defray shipping costs and cut time to market—as shown in INTERQUEST's recent report, "Digital Book Printing: Market Analysis & Forecast (2010-2015)." A new generation of high-speed inkjet presses is also coming onto the market, promising lower cost, faster production speeds and higher print quality—all of which open the door a bit wider to digital book printing.
Although the major vendors of toner-based digital printing systems continue to improve and expand their monochrome and full-color cut-sheet and continuous-feed offerings, most of the buzz in the market centers on high-speed inkjet systems. The high speed and low running costs of this equipment will significantly raise the break-even point with conven–tional production and drive more books to digital printing platforms. Among the key players:
- InfoPrint announced new, high-speed versions of the InfoPrint 5000 color inkjet press in 2009. The models print up to 420 feet per minute (fpm; 128 meters per minute) at a resolution of 360 x 360 dots per inch (dpi), double the speed of their predecessors.
- Kodak expanded its VL-Series in early 2009 with four new models offered in con–figura–tions that support 1-up or 2-up simplex, or 1-up or 2-up duplex printing, and various speeds up to 492 fpm at a resolution of 600 x 600 dpi. The company pre-announced its Kodak Prosper 5000XL Press for color applications and Kodak Prosper 1000 Press for monochrome applications at Print '09. Both presses use Kodak Stream inkjet technology and feature a print speed of up to 650 fpm with image quality approaching 175 lines per inch (lpi), and a monthly duty cycle of up to 120 million A4 pages. They are able to handle both coated and uncoated papers, including glossy coated.
- Océ announced the JetStream 500 (535 images per minute [ipm]) and Océ JetStream 1000 (1,070 ipm) systems in March 2009. These systems use the same inkjet technology as their predecessors in the JetStream family, but offer full-width duplex printing in a single cabinet. The systems are upgradable from monochrome simplex to full-color duplex printing. In 2009, Océ also announced 30-inch models with the JetStream 2800 (2,792 ipm) and the JetStream 3300 (3,221 ipm).
- In 2008, RR Donnelley installed the first inkjet web press using its proprietary Integrated Printing System (IPS) 3 technology developed in-house. Since then, Donnelley has worked with Muller Martini to develop several high-speed, fully integrated digital inkjet printing and inline book-production systems. The result is a press capable of running at printing speeds of up to 800 fpm, with the fully automated Muller Martini book production system.
- At Print '09, Hewlett-Packard officially launched its 30-inch-wide T300 Color Inkjet Web Press (unveiled at Drupa 2008 as the HP Inkjet Web Press). In May, at IPEX 2010, HP unveiled the T200, a 20.5-inch-wide, full duplex four-color press in a single engine.
A number of developments have taken place over the past 18 months in the area of pre- and post-processing and finishing as vendors continue to make efforts to maximize the productivity and efficiency of their systems. Solutions are also being developed for 30-inch-wide inkjet presses. Since Drupa 2008, CPI—the largest European book manufacturer—has worked with HP, Timsons and Muller Martini to develop a finishing solution for its inkjet press that uses HP technology. In March 2010, CPI demonstrated its new Quantum system consisting of a HP T300 monochrome inkjet web press, a folding and finishing module designed by Magnum/Ultimate, and a Muller Martini binding line.
On-demand book production continues to grow in the market with the establishment of partnerships and services among a number of key players.
- Baker & Taylor is partnering with RR Donnelley to provide publishers with short-run and on-demand services through Baker & Taylor's TextStream Digital Print Service.
- Open Road Integrated Media is expanding beyond e-book publication to also offer print-on-demand (POD) services.
- Springer Science+Business Media has an agreement with Amazon's CreateSpace (recently merged with BookSurge) for on-demand production of Springer's paperback book catalog as well as new large-print hardback editions.
- BiblioLife works with libraries, archives and aggregators to distribute out-of-print books via POD channels worldwide.
Also, self-publishing continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Bowker (the exclusive U.S. ISBN and SAN agency) reports that 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers—an increase of 181 percent over 2008. Over the same period, the number of traditional book titles printed declined by 0.5 percent from 289,729 to 288,355.
Traditional publishers and book-sellers such as Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, Amazon and B&N, along with Apple, now are dipping their toes into the self-publishing waters.
Lulu, which printed more than 2.5 million books in 2009 using multiple POD providers, announced an IPO in March to raise $50 million. Author Solutions, which includes AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay, Inkubook and Xlibris, signed an agreement in March for Amazon to distribute new black-and-white titles through the Kindle. Blurb's revenue grew 50 percent in 2009 over the prior year to $45 million. The company is now eyeing further penetration of the European market. Scribd.com recently added premium options for customers to have paperback books produced on-demand by Blurb.
Although self-publishers have always made extensive use of distribute-and-print, traditional publishers and distributors are increasingly using the model as well. The list of distribute-and-print partnerships continues to grow and includes: Bridgeport National Bindery and Oxford University Press through an agreement with CPI/Anthony Rowe; Lightning Source U.K. and Harvard University Press; Hachette Livre and Ingram Content Group; Baker & Taylor and RR Donnelley; and Edwards Brothers and Author Solutions. In addition, ColorCentric has kicked off a program to provide distribute-and-print solutions around the world utilizing its Printernet software. In the realm of distributed point-of-sale printing, On Demand Books is expanding its placements of the Espresso Book Machine, and has tapped Lightning Source and Google to expand its library of offerings to more than 3 million titles.
So, What's the Forecast?
INTERQUEST estimates that digital manufacturing currently accounts for about 4 percent of all book produc–tion, but that by 2015, it will grow to about 15 percent of the total. In the coming years, inkjet printing will play a major role in the market as the cross-over point between conventional and digital manufacturing moves up, making available more first-run front-list titles as well as longer-run reprints. INTERQUEST also predicts that digital color printing will be used in a greater variety of books, including inserts in trade editions. All in all, book manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing applications of digital printing as run lengths continue to decline and key players in the supply chain continue their efforts to reduce costs—trends that play directly to the strengths of digital printing technology.
David Davis is director of INTERQUEST Ltd., a market and technology research and consulting firm in the field of digital printing and publishing, producing multiclient studies and hosting educational seminars worldwide on book printing and digital printing applications. For more information or to order INTERQUEST's most recent study of the book market, "Digital Book Printing: Market Analysis & Forecast (2010-2015)," call (434) 979-9945 or visit Inter-quest.com.