Special Advertising Section: Digital Printing: The Burgeoning Business of Books
Three companies busy capitalizing on this burgeoning market are BookMasters, Color House Graphics and Gasch Printing. Each has evolved their business models to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital book production.
It all starts with run lengths. The ability of digital presses to produce short runs cost-effectively is changing the economics of book production. Run lengths based on demand slash inventory costs and eliminates the need to pay for books that might not be sold for months—or even years. This sea change in book production economics offers rich benefits for publishers and book manufacturers alike.
While some digital book producers such as Lightning Source specialize in producing just one or two copies of a given title on demand, a much bigger segment of book production focuses on runs ranging from 200 to about 1,000 with an average of about 400 copies per title. Publishers are scrambling to align themselves with nimble book manufacturers that can handle these shorter runs.
"It used to be that a short run was about 1,000 copies of a title," says Phil Knight, Director of Sales at Color House Graphics in Grand Rapids, Mich. "Now we see short runs in the 250 to 500 copy range. Longer runs can be 1,000 or up to 2,500 and we still have some as high as 75,000."
Gasch Printing in Odenton, Md., sees similar volumes for its digital presses, says Jeremy Hess, art director and marketing coordinator. "The average run is about 400 copies of a title, but that's really below the middle of a wide range. We might do just 10 copies of one title but up to 2,500 of another."
Then there's the cross-over point at which a title could be produced on an offset press. Most book manufacturers have both offset and digital printing capabilities that can offer customers the economics of offset for longer run lengths, usually in the 2,500 to 3,000 range. But having both digital and offset machines on the shop floor provides flexibility.