Binding for Digital Short-Run Book Projects
Other business opportunities for digital shortrun book manufacturers that are being driven by e-commerce involve international distribution.
"Since people often want information delivered worldwide, the natural extension of this process is the ability to deliver what the customer wants — a printed book, an e-book or electronic information — wherever they are," explains Clockel. "So what will be developed over the years, and what's developing right now, is international distribution. The goal is to be able to manufacture the product as close to the end-user as possible, so customers can get their product quickly."
With more digital shops popping up to serve the growing demand for international distribution, Clockel says, equipment is being designed with mobility in mind. Not much bigger than a desk, the distinctive characteristics of new digital printing and binding machines include their portability and smaller size.
As more book manufacturers get into digital short-run printing, the demand for quicker makeready and faster throughput will increase, and more systems — particularly inline — will be built with that focus in mind, notes Jeff Vierkant, general manager of the Quebecor World Digital Custom Demand facility in Dubuque, Iowa.
Acknowledging there's a continuing challenge with inline finishing, Vierkant believes front-end and back-end manufacturers will work closely in the future to design equipment that gets digital print engines and bindery equipment inline in order to speed up the process from digital file to bound book. However, he notes, faster, more efficient equipment is just one of the developments impacting today's digital bookbinding market. Another significant trend involves the binding itself. "Soft-cover, plastic-coil binding has increased 155 percent in the past year, while soft-cover adhesive and soft-cover wire spiral sales have remained flat," he declares. "Plastic coil gives more color options, plus it's a more durable bind than wire, because it doesn't get bound or kinked in shipment."