Special Report: Printers' Outlook: Not Your Father's (or Mother's) Book Manufacturers
Spall: The extension of our Web-based printing system. Over the last couple of months, we've begun to build custom websites. We preload the catalog of books, so that [customers] click the book and say that they want 20 copies or 20,000—and away we go. I wouldn't say that's tremendously revolutionary, [but] that's evolutionary of our Web services—that kind of custom user website for publishers to produce a title from one to thousands. We selected some open source programming that lets us build out-of-the-box solutions for publishers.
Beisser: How much of your business is digital printing, and how do you see that changing?
Spall: Offset is still 95 percent of the business. Five percent is digital and, of that, a lion's share is short run. A percentage of that is what is commonly referred to as retail-driven POD. Digital is growing at a 30-percent rate year-over-year, which is in line with what we expect. I think that'll hold up very nicely.
Beisser: Do you offer e‑book conversion, or have you partnered with a conversion service or do you plan to in the future?
Spall: We do some conversions in-house. … If we think a partner has some experience, we'll partner. But as we take this XML workflow further, that percentage of our business will grow exponentially.
Beisser: Have you invested recently in new equipment?
Spall: Most of the new equipment we've purchased in the last two years and in the last few months is almost entirely software and intelligence to make this stuff work in the background. The hard assets we've purchased are very old assets. We have a custom, limited-edition book-binding business. That's a POD for very high-end books. That's a business we bought that would provide leather-bound editions. We've spent millions of dollars in software systems, both in traditional MIS to automate the shop floor and in accounting.
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