Why On Demand?
by Tatyana Sinioukov
At BookTech '99, publishers and printers shared success stories of turning to print-on-demand as a way of keeping reprints and out-of-print titles alive
Today, the industry is changing. "Authors are becoming publishers, wholesalers are becoming printers, retailers are becoming printers and publishers," said Larry Brewster, vice president and general manager, Lightning Print, a subsidiary of Ingram Industries, La Vergne, TN, at the BookTech '99 "Digital Short-Run Case Studies" session. Such factors as the digitizing of desktop publishing and distribution and existence of the Internet and print-on-demand are reshaping publishing, he said. "The bookstores are no longer limited by four walls--you can find any book on the Internet."
Print-on-demand, Brewster pointed out, is especially appropriate for the academic book market. "It's a way to get a book into the market at a low entry cost," he said. Currently working with about 180 publishers, Brewster said, Lightning Print is looking to produce hardcovers on-demand, including jackets; improve halftone printing and scanning technology to produce books with halftones; expand distribution; and explore the opportunities to repurpose material for customized print.
"Print-on-demand ensures that titles stay in print indefinitely, that niche audiences do not need to wait for their special-interest title orders to reach minimum quantities to justify offset printing," said Brenda Brown, customer service representative, Malloy Lithographing, Ann Arbor, MI, in an introduction to the BookTech '99 session titled "Digital Short-Run Printing Presses: Capabilities Review." Print-on-demand, she noted, makes it possible to minimize risk on new titles by testing the market with short runs, and it provides the ability to reuse and repackage existing content into custom products.
Brown pointed out that short-run presses share common capabilities, such as acceptance of both hard-copy originals and digital files and the ability to print up to 600 dpi resolution on a variety of paper weights and finishes for a run of one to 1,500 copies, with an array of post-printing add-on features available.