The Magic Number of One
Riverside’s response was to found Book One, which handles digital jobs exclusively. The company has seen steady growth over the past five years, even during the recent recession. “We put in a [HP Indigo 5500] press in spring 2008, and this year, when everybody is struggling to just break even compared to last year, we are up 37 percent. This is directly because of short run.”
The key to being successful with a digital supply chain is quality and efficiency, Daubert says. Choosing a digital vendor with a superior service contract - a one-stop solution for inks, parts and service – is necessary to avoid delays in a just-in-time manufacturing cycle.
“When you are doing this type of business, having your equipment up is paramount,” he says. “Hewlett-Packard really helps you achieve that. You just place your order, and it arrives the next day. It's a quick cycling thing. There’s no negotiating going on. It’s one point of contact, and service is extremely good.”
The most revolutionary changes made possible by digital printing, according to Daubert, are in the realm of distribution. Where large numbers of books used to be trucked from printers to binderies to distribution centers, then to warehouses around the country for delivery to retailers, the short run digital process has eliminated entire steps along the way to getting a printed book in the hands of the consumer. On demand printing enables you to print only what is needed and to print in quantities as small as one.
“I like to say there is no freight in digital, only shipping,” Daubert says – meaning individual orders can be sent directly to an end point location without the need of bulk deliveries. This reduces or eliminates the costs associated with complicated inventory and supply chain management practices, as well as the need to physically house unsold product, which in the book world could be for many years.