Digital book printing, be it in the form of short-run or print-on-demand (POD), has unquestionably transformed the book business. While no longer in its infancy, digital printing and its economic benefits still remain a mystery to many publishers. Industry trade groups like the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), with its mission statement of “working to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry,” are pushing to further publishers’ understanding of the technology and its strengths and limitations. BISG’s forthcoming “Print On Demand for Dummies” book, created in collaboration with John Wiley & Sons and set to debut this summer, aims to help demystify the business of POD with a number of industry case studies. Wiley continues to stand out as a pioneer in the digital printing space, having printed more than half a million units digitally in fiscal year 2008. The company now has transferred more than 10,000 titles to its POD model, optimizing warehouse utilization and cutting costs, all while keeping books in print that otherwise would have ceased printing.
Admittedly, certain specification constraints continue to inhibit the industry’s adoption rate, but the technology is improving year after year. More printers have added digital capabilities, and new digital printers are springing up across the country.
Book Business presents “20 Leading Digital Book Printers” for the second year in a row. Of the 11 companies who appear on the list again this year and disclosed their 2008 digital book printing revenues, eight reported higher revenues than 2007.
And yet, digital printing is still only a fraction of the total book market, according to Interquest, a market research and consulting firm. Interquest President Gilles Biscos estimates that digitally printed books made up just 3 percent of the total book volume in 2008. He expects this figure to increase to 8 percent by 2012.
“The growth will be fueled by the increasing interest of publishers [in using] digital printing to cut costs (considering its benefits to the entire supply chain), and by the technology developments in the area of high-speed ink jet,” says Biscos. “After 2012, the growth of digital printing will accelerate even further as the next generation of ink jet presses becomes widely available.”