Strategically Speaking: Is Digital Printing 'Ready for Prime Time'?
What I am suggesting is that the balance is clearly shifting. E-books are here to stay. The scales are tipping from a world built around print supplemented by digital to digital supplemented by print. The change is no longer speculation—it is a reality that publishers must accept and integrate into their workflows.
This means that well-tested policies, procedures and demand history as predictors of the future should be closely re-examined—something that every well-run business should do as a matter of course.
That being said, if the recession has taught us any lesson, we should all be examining the marketplace assumptions and production economics that we have relied on for so many years to see if they still hold up to scrutiny, and actively begin to look at new ways of doing business. Not all of the traditions and technologies that have served us so well for so long will need to be abandoned, but we need to be open to change and regularly examine the opportunity that technology (in this case print-on-demand and short-run digital printing) offers. This is not just a matter of economic necessity, but in some cases may well be the difference between survival and extinction.
David Hetherington is director of major account sales for Baker & Taylor's Digital Service Group and an adjunct professor at the Pace University Graduate School of Book and Magazine Publishing. He was previously managing director for strategic business development for Integrated Book Technology, and has held senior positions in finance, operations and manufacturing with some of the industry's largest firms, including Simon & Schuster, Reader's Digest Association, BearingPoint Consulting, Wolters Kluwer Health and Columbia University Press.