“Digital is still very small today,” notes Gilles Biscos of market research and consulting firm Interquest. Between 2 percent and 3 percent of total book volume is produced digitally, Biscos says, though this is up from less than 2 percent two years ago. At current rates of growth, digital should be at 5 percent to 6 percent of the total market in three years, he predicts.
The most rapid growth in the on-demand market up to this point has come in nontraditional segments such as self-publishing. Lightning Source works with publishers such as Lulu.com to provide printing services in runs anywhere from one book to a few dozen; such business makes up about one-third of the company’s total volume, according to Biscos.
Taylor’s appointment at the helm of Lightning Source—he replaced longtime CEO Kirby Best in June as part of a major internal reorganization—reflects Ingram’s desire to move beyond positioning digital print services as a separate publishing niche and fully integrate print-on-demand (POD) with its other physical and digital services, according to the company.
With a 23-year background in bookselling, including five years as Lightning Source’s vice president for sales and marketing, Taylor’s perspective is, as he says, “very much driven by the point of view of the consumer”—whether book buyers, readers or publishers looking to produce titles more effectively.
The same ethos is at work in the approach now taken by Edwards Brothers, where, according to President and CEO John Edwards, there is an increased focus on offering digital in the context of a larger suite of options.
“I’m trying to not call it digital anymore,” he says. “It’s short-run. I don’t want to have to differentiate anymore [between digital and offset]. We’re focusing on making it seamless for the publishing community as far as how [a book is] made.”