Big Trends in Bookmaking
I apologize for admitting it, as you might prefer to believe that this magazine is edited by a brilliant, clairvoyant luminary, but deciding what to write about in this column was kind of a no-brainer. Let's see, what's really important in book publishing now? Well, DUH, it's the big focus on digital short-run printing.
Several organizations are introducing new services and equipment to allow publishers to print from one to 1,000 or more books economically. Now publishers don't have to commit to a large print order to publish or reprint a title profitably.
Oh, there's a lot to work out yet. First of all, most of what's being offered for short-run printing is best for books with mostly black-and-white text pages, though covers can be printed in color. And all kinds of systems and administrative issues related to supplying digital files and handling the business administration side must be thoughtfully solved.
All that thinking won't go to waste: I'm betting that as the industry addresses existing problems, it will invent new ways to profit from short-run printing, too.
Digital short-run printing is both a cause and an effect of another trend--an industry requirement for faster turnaround.
Some of the printing company executives we spoke to for "The Need for Speed" commented that they feel compelled to put less emphasis on "optimizing" their equipment. By optimizing they mean keeping it running--thus productive and profitable--which tends to involve schedules in which publishers' jobs are queued up, one after the other.
Today, customers' need for fast turnaround is so great that jobs simply can't be put on hold like that. The top priority of today's book manufacturers is finding new solutions that will allow them to stay profitable without making publishers wait.
Hey, I've changed my mind. What's notable in the book industry is much bigger than just digital short-run printing. Now that I've thought it through, what's really big news is the changing economics of book manufacturing. Well, DUH.