The State of Digital Book Printing
Book publishers attending the recent Publishing Business Conference & Expo in New York who were eager to learn about trends in digital book publishing had come to the right place. On March 9, the 2010 Digital Book Printing Forum was held during the conference at the New York Marriott Marquis. At the forum, representatives from Charlottesville, Va.-based Interquest, a market and technology research and consulting firm in the field of digital printing and publishing, presented findings from its new study, “Digital Book Printing: Market Analysis & Forecast, 2010-2015.”
"Over 140 professionals involved in book publishing and manufacturing, as well as book distribution and other related areas, attended this year's event. This represents a growth of over 30 percent compared with last year," says Gilles Biscos, founder and president of Interquest. "Thus, I think we can say it was a success. I was talking with one of our speakers—a leading manufacturer—after the event, and here is what he had to say: 'You can clearly feel that something big is happening in the publishing business, and we are all fortunate to be in the middle of it.'"
Biscos recently spoke with Book Business Extra about what publishers learned during the forum.
Book Business Extra: What was the most important lesson publishers took away from the Digital Book Printing Forum?
Gilles Biscos: They had additional confirmation that digital printing is being effectively utilized across all sectors of their industry. They had the opportunity to hear from several large book manufacturers—who, until recently, had been very cautious about digital printing—that they are now endorsing digital printing in a big way, since they are already using, installing or ordering the latest inkjet presses, which will be used to produce a substantial portion of their work.
Extra: What were some of the other key points made during the forum?
Biscos: We heard a lot … about distribute-and-print, which a number of publishers are now using to further defray costs. If you print digitally right inside a warehouse or distribution center, for instance, you can not only reduce carrying cost and minimize the risk of unused or returned inventory, but you also eliminate the freight charges. This becomes even more important in overseas arrangements. We also heard how digital printing is beginning to be applied by bookstores—a number of which are using the Espresso Book Machine to print single copies at the point of sale. Overall, I think we're beginning to see a fleshing out of the promises digital printing offered when it first emerged in the book market.
Extra: What trends have emerged in this area, per Interquest's new study?
Biscos: According to our latest study of book manufacturers/printers, which is going to be released at the end of this month, the key trends regarding digital printing include:
• an annual print-volume growth in excess of 20 percent per year over the next five years. We expect that, by 2015, about 15 percent of the total book print volume will be produced on digital equipment compared to about 5 percent now;
• the significant growth of color digital printing over the past five years. Color accounted for about 2 percent of the total digital print volume in 2005, and it now accounts for nearly 10 percent;
• the impact of e-books on paper-book volume is going to be relatively limited over the next five years. The professional and education sectors will be the most affected, but trade book[s] will suffer very little. Also, there will be synergies between paper books and e-books, not just competition; and
• inkjet technology is going to push the break-even point between conventional and digital printing towards runs of 3,000 and above.