Binding for Digital Short-Run Book Projects
By Cheryl A. Adams
To stay competitive in today's fast-paced business environment, book manufacturers are turning to the latest in digital printing/binding technology. Using such strategies, they can print on-demand books, soft- or hard-cover, quickly and cost effectively, without creating excess inventory.
"When rapid delivery is expected with each order — especially in the non-inventory, e-commerce environment — automatic processes become critical," says Jim Augustine, vice president of national sales, Xyan.com, King of Prussia, Pa.
Indeed, in today's digital short-run book market, automatic turnaround often isn't a problem. Not even for quantities of one and case-bound books. In as little as one minute, a 300-page soft-cover book (a little longer for case-bound) can be printed.
"Because the book blocks are the same regardless of the binding, publishers can offer hard- and soft-cover books simultaneously, without investing in extensive inventory," Augustine explains. On-demand output is then sent to the publisher's distribution center for shipment or (in the case of Xyan.com) directly to the end-user from the manufacturer, without becoming inventory. And without inventory, publishers can sell on-demand books to fulfill existing orders.
Based on a "book of one" model, many of today's top digital book printers create products one at a time and just in time. In some cases, the traditional short run of 100 to 500 has been shortened to less than 20.
New advancements in binding equipment from companies such as Muller Martini, C.P. Bourg and Horizon (to name but a few), are allowing book manufacturers to produce quality products more quickly. And new auto-makeready features enable bindery equipment to sense and adjust to different trim sizes and bulks for each book, binding up to 60 books per minute. Indeed, binders have been capable of such speeds for several years ... offline, that is.
"Initially, inline finishing equipment was added and put at the back of the [printing] machine," explains Bill Clockel, vice president and owner of Troy, N.Y.-based Integrated Book Technology (IBT). "The problem was that the print engine wanted to produce a book every three minutes, but the binding equipment wanted to produce 60 or 70 per minute. But the makers of the new digital binding equipment recognize there are efficiencies in manufacturing multiple units offline, instead of at the back of the machine."