The Demand For On-Demand
Print-on-demand (POD), like so many new technologies that have threatened to shake up the status quo of the publishing industry, has garnered its fair share of attention from both enthusiasts and naysayers. But philosophical debates and questions about its potential aside, there appears to be little doubt about the benefits of POD. Continuing, technological advances will most likely erase any nagging doubts about quality and profitability.
One thing is clear, the market for POD is growing. In 2000, U.S. companies spent $3.1 billion for black-and-white POD systems and related services and supplies, according to CAP Ventures (www.capv.com). The research firm projects the market to reach $8 billion in 2005, growing at a rate of 20.4 percent per year. Further evidence of POD's increasing popularity: Of the 312 print providers interviewed by CAP Ventures in a July 2001 study, only six percent reported they planned to purchase high-speed analog copiers in the following year, while 28 percent planned to buy POD systems.
Claiming its piece of the POD pie, Pittsburgh, PA-based Tri-Ad Litho (www.triadlitho.com) wisely anticipated the promise of the digital age, expanding its offset offerings to include digital on-demand printing. Since the expansion, the 30-year-old printer has witnessed a healthy increase in new clients and revenues. Dan Makuta, account executive, says, "We've doubled our revenue in three years. We were grossing about $950,000 and now we're at $1.8 million."
The transformation from an offset printer into a predominantly digital on-demand service bureau was relatively smooth for the nine-person outfit. After investing in Adobe PDF prepress tools (www.adobe.com), two Xerox DocuTech NP6135s, a DigiPath and a DocuColor 2045 (www.xerox.com), Tri-Ad Litho witnessed an evolution in its business plan. Today, 75 percent of the printer's business is digital, with the other 25 percent stemming from conventional services.