What We Learned at The 2015 Digital Book Printing Conference
On November 17, 2016, Book Business will host the third annual Digital Book Printing Conference in New York City with its sister publication Printing Impressions. The event gathers publishers, book manufacturers, and equipment suppliers to discuss the latest innovations in digital book printing and how the technology is driving greater efficiency and revenue for the entire supply chain. Last year the conference attracted over 150 attendees and explored the many opportunities and challenges facing widespread digital printing adoption. The 2016 conference will build on many of these insights, delving into the changing economics of book printing, exploring new revenue opportunities, and discussing how printers and publishers are collaborating to effectively ramp up digital printing. The 2016 Digital Book Printing Conference is free for qualified attendees. Click here to qualify.
In anticipation of the 2016 Digital Book Printing Conference, it's worth recapping some of the lessons learned at last year's event. At the close of the 2015 conference, conference chair and VP of IT Strategies Marco Boer highlighted 5 takeaways that demonstrate how book publishers and printers can continue to grow digital printing and their businesses:
1. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” By this, Boer meant that book publishers must embrace significant cultural changes in order to fully embrace digital printing and reduced inventory models. Rather than managing warehousing, inventory, and shipping themselves, publishers must learn to trust book manufacturers to handle these expenses. And book manufacturers, Boer added, have to prove to publishers that they have the capability to take on inventory and distribution.
2. “The savings from digital printing are very real for book publishers.” This was evident during a panel featuring James Gaskin director of content, publishing technology, and production at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) and Yvette Nora, director of global procurement at Reed Elsevier. Both panelists said that by altering their internal structures to easily transmit book files to printers, they have set the stage for significant savings through digital printing. Gaskin described the opportunity as the “$90,000 door” door that connects the manufacturing and distribution departments, opening which saved PLI $90,000 a year in shipping costs.
3. “Book manufacturers are responsible for educating book publishers.” It’s up to book manufacturers to show how digital printing can reduce costs and guide publishers through the internal changes needed to excel. This is not an overnight process. Edwards Brothers Malloy president and CEO John Edwards said in a panel that it has taken his company years to prove to its customers that they can improve the book distribution process through digital printing.
4. “We won’t be going to zero-inventory any time soon.” A big topic of conversation throughout the day was the possibility of book publishers reducing book inventory to zero through the help of print-on-demand (POD). A panel featuring Bill Barry, sustainability and vendor partnership consultant at Macmillan, dove into this topic extensively. Barry explained why publishers couldn’t eliminate inventory entirely: “80% of books at a large trade publisher lose money or break even. It’s the top 20% of high-volume books that make up for those failed ventures. Those will never be POD, at least not in my lifetime.
5. “In three years book manufacturers won’t be able to compete without inkjet.” Boer credited Nick Lewis, president of Publishers’ Graphics with this line. Inkjet technology is constantly improving its print quality. As that quality improves, book publishers will be able to print larger runs more quickly and efficiently. Inkjet may be the key to getting those high-volume bestsellers closer to the zero-inventory model, said Boer.