Digital Printing: Poised For Growth
Distribute-and-print is another growing trend in digital book manufacturing. Distribute-and-print has become very appealing to international publishers striving to reduce delivery time and cost. Companies such as Lulu and Blurb—two leading suppliers of self-publishing solutions—have been expanding into Europe and Asia, and now have books produced in these regions. Amazon now prints books in Europe on digital printing equipment. Within the past 18 months, print-on-demand leaders Lightning Source (part of the Ingram Content Group) and ColorCentric have beefed up their distribute-and-print resources. Lightning Source set up print facilities in France and Australia, while ColorCentric added partners in Canada, Brazil and New Zealand, with the plan to add more in France, Asia and Russia this year. Bridgeport National Bindery and Edwards Brothers also have been active in distribute-and-print.
In the realm of distributed point-of-sale printing, On Demand Books is aggressively expanding its placements of the Espresso Book Machine, and has tapped Lightning Source and Google to expand its library of offerings to more than 3 million titles. Xerox is now directly selling and supporting the Espresso system, which uses its 4112 printer for producing monochrome book blocks. Hewlett-Packard also has developed a short-run, print-on-demand (POD) solution for retail and college bookstores, which it has been testing with a pilot program at select universities.
During the past two years, a number of technology developments for both electrophoto–graphic and inkjet printing systems (monochrome and color), finishing and binding equipment, and consumables (toner, ink and substrates) have helped fuel the growth of digital book printing. On the printing side, most recent developments include the launch of the Xerox iGen4 EXP press and the Kodak NexPress SX platform, which provides 14-inch by 26-inch output—expanding their capability to produce dust jackets for books. Last year, Océ launched its ColorStream 10000 Flex digital web press, a high-quality toner-based system that can print up to 1,515 images per minute (ipm) in monochrome mode and 172 ipm in full color. This new press is helping Océ better penetrate color book printing applications—particularly the professional and education segments. Earlier this year, Hewlett-Packard announced its T400 Color Inkjet Web Press, a 42-inch-wide web press, which prints at 400 or 600 feet per minute.