16 Tips for Digital-Printing Success
Insights From the In-house Insider
In 2006, women’s fiction and series-romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises said “I do” to digital printing when it installed a complete book production system in its distribution center in Depew, N.Y.
According to Vice President of Operations Jim Robinson, the in-house system comprises two Océ VarioStream printers configured in tandem to print double-sided, a continuous-feed KTI dual-roll unwinder, folding equipment, a binder and a trimmer all on one line. “Paper feeds in on one end and books come out the other, all inline,” he says. Covers are printed offline on Océ CPS900s, sent through the coating line, and then are fed into the binder.
Here, Robinson offers eight tips for digital-printing success:
9. Use digital printing to improve inventory management and sell short.
Like many publishers, we were over-ordering on offset print runs to ensure that we didn’t short any customers, but as a consequence, we were seeing too much product that came into inventory and never left the warehouse. Of course, that was expensive, so we looked for a new solution for inventory management. That solution is the short-run digital-printing environment. Now, as we are getting demand, Jason [Warner, central inventory manager,] looks at the historical pattern and pulls back at the offset printer. In his perfect world, we would always come up just short because our digital line can respond very quickly to make up the shortfall.
10. For customization, consider in-house implementation.
…We wanted to be in an environment that would never short our front-list customer. … If we get an Internet order in the morning, we want to be ready to ship product that afternoon. I don’t know that you’d get that level of service from a third party. Also, the quotations that digital-service vendors provided to us for printing books digitally would have made it uneconomical. In fairness to those service providers, their equipment is just not designed for our market. We had to build an environment specifically to do mass-market paperbacks. Plus, a lot of digital vendors say that you can’t use the equipment with bulky book newsprint, but we overcame that obstacle through our design. Now, we believe that we’re printing digitally in-house at about a third of the price compared to using a [POD] vendor.