Ready to Print
Amazon bolstered its print-on-demand (POD) book division and consequently put the rest of the industry on notice that retail distribution is continuing to change, after it made a significant push to add new digital color presses to its operations.
The leading online retailer would not publicly disclose the number of Hewlett-Packard (HP) presses that it purchased or the price paid, but said several HP Indigo presses and production manager controllers were installed and put into operation in a number of the company’s fulfillment centers, when the announcement was officially made in December 2006.
Never Out of Stock
The move is an effort to fulfill customers’ orders more efficiently, says Aaron Martin, Amazon’s director of Print and Disc on Demand Services. He says the chance of having a book be out of stock is much less likely with the improvement upon the company’s previous POD setup. The Indigo-model presses Amazon purchased can produce full-color books, as well as color covers for black-and-white titles.
“Say a title becomes very popular—this very niche title—and something happens in the news, let’s say,” Martin says. “Occasionally, what will happen is, because there’s a run on that title, it will stock out for the entire supply chain. And they’ll have to go into reprint mode. A benefit of this technology is to make sure you’re never out of stock. On Amazon.com, a customer can always buy that title.”
Martin says the company’s major book publishers have responded well to Amazon’s POD strategy.
“Our publishing partners have been very enthusiastic about this, even before this announcement,” he says. “This has definitely helped in building their enthusiasm. For their entire catalog—they will never stock out. They don’t have to deal with the inbound logistics costs of pushing lower-velocity units to us. They’re basically made in the fulfillment center. It’s all outbound.”