Book Business Extra Q&A: Muller Martini’s Andy Fetherman on Why 2007 Will Be a Transitional Year for Digital Printing
Muller Martini’s manager of the company’s on-demand solution division, Andy Fetherman, says things are lining up to make this the year that publishers and printers alike finally fully embrace the benefits of digital book printing and manufacturing.
As Fetherman spoke with Book Business Extra about the transitional year that he expects will occur for the industry. Muller Martini prepares for the open house it will hold on March 7, with Nipson America, to demonstrate the latest technologies.
What signs are pointing to this year being the year that the industry will fully accept on-demand digital printing?
Fetherman: The market forces are creating an environment where publishers are pushing harder and harder for shorter runs and longer print cycles for books, so they keep the ownership of the title longer. This is what’s been driving book manufacturers for years, but this year, book publishers are really pushing for it. For example, we have an initiative with one publisher—which we really haven’t gone public with yet—but they have the digital book manufacturing line in their warehouse to produce books for their inventory. … Publishers are saying, “Hey, if you’re not going to do it, we’re going to do it.”
Do you see this as a trend that publishers are going to take digital printing into their own hands?
Fetherman: Trend is a strong word. I think there will be isolated pockets of it. This one instance was because of the frustration they had with their book manufacturer. They said, “If you’re not going to do it, we’ll do it. … Most [book manufacturers] are saying ‘we have to do this’ already. The realization is going to limit the migration of book publishers doing [their own digital printing]. It’s not their thing. They don’t want to do it.
I think in the case of a book manufacturer, the binding part is fine. They’ll be able to get that no problem. It’s the printing part. Digital printing is a different animal. Some people are still afraid of it. … What’s happening now is they have to accept new technology and a new model, a new business model. The more they use it, the more they pay. So there’s so many things to digest.