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.
At that session, representatives of Scitex, Océ Printing, Xerox and IBM discussed the capabilities of their companies' short-run printing solutions and shared success stories of how several publishers turned to print-on-demand.
During his presentation of DemandStream color web and sheetfed presses, David Sigler, director of digital printing and publishing, Océ Printing, Boca Raton, FL, specified what requirements for a digital book press are important: productivity, efficient makeready and setup, low cost-per-impression, format flexibility, image quality and permanence, media flexibility and process integration.
W. Park Rayfield, director of business development for Scitex Digital Printing of Dayton, OH, introduced the VersaMark 90/500 Digital Book Printing System, a new high-volume digital book printing system. VersaMark, he said, boasts the speed of 3,800 ppm for 6 x 9' pages and 2,100 ppm for 8.5 x 11', and a cost of under $5 per 1,000 8.5 x 11' pages, or less than half a cent a page. This enables printing of a 300-page 8.5 x 11' book, said Rayfield, for about $1.30 a page, $1.45 bound (cost of paper included). The system takes both uncoated and coated paper in sizes up to 9 x 12' and sheet sizes up to 20.5 x 12', he said.
Ashley Shemain, industry marketing manager, Xerox, Fairport, NY, reported that his company, which offers DigiPath/DocuTech production solutions and the Book-in-Time solution that extends DocuTech's capabilities, is looking into eventually combining the two systems. Currently, Book-in-Time offers print and Web services, print-on-demand, digital storage of print-ready books; order-entry service and packing and shipping services. By the end of the year, Xerox hopes to offer language translation and digital property rights management services within the system, Shemain revealed.
Citing how three companies, Ingram Book-Lightning Print, Oracle Warehouse and Commerce Clearing House (CCH), used IBM technology to print on-demand, Richard Troksa, director of production printing, IBM Printing Systems, Boulder, CO, said publishers who otherwise may have had to experience up to 40 percent waste are able to eliminate waste and fulfill demand for out-of-print and low-volume books.
Using IBM technology, Troksa said, Ingram prints scanned 6 x 9' paperbacks, all containing black-and-white pages and four-color covers, in PostScript, PDF and TIFF formats. The inside pages are printed on a black-and-white press and put together with a Duplo perfect binder; the cover is printed on an InfoColor 70 printer, he said. By the end of this year, he added, Ingram is targeting about 10,000 titles to be printed on-demand.
Oracle Warehouse, Troksa said, wanted "to get more out of their system" by printing on-demand. With 800,000 black-and-white software manuals printed in house, only 16 percent of jobs made a two-day turnaround, and 27 percent made a three-day one, he explained. The company wanted to produce more 7.5 x 9.5' manuals, reduce production cost and decrease turnaround time. As a result, he reported, upon the implementation of IBM tools, production cost was decreased 30 percent, reliance on outside print vendors was also reduced, and a 45 percent savings (amounting to $750,000) was reported in the first seven months. According to Troksa, Oracle currently uses the InfoPrint 4000 IR 1/2 464 ipm and IBM InfoPrint Manager software.
By printing on demand, Troksa noted, CCH also improved turnaround. CCH, which offers tax documents, black-and-white, on lightweight 22# off-white paper, needed to speed up delivery process for tax books. The company, he said, felt that storing their products in-house was inefficient and wanted to eliminate labor-intensive updates.
New York City-based American Bible Society has decided to print on-demand not just Bibles but also limited-distribution titles for scholars, said Alain Sasson, director of Scripture production, during "Digital Short-Run Case Studies." The company had been publishing these titles for years and wanted to avoid storing them in the warehouse.
When deciding to print on-demand, Sasson advised publishers to consider the size of the title, the number of pages and the quantity ordered. Quality of printing is also important, he remarked, and "something an art director would be sensitive about." For his company, he said, the size of the books printed on-demand was appropriate and the number of pages didn't exceed 400 (most were in a 200 to 250 page range), but it was the quantity that drew them to print on-demand, Sasson reported. Some books that took up to a year and a half to sell were requested in quantities of 75 and under. For his company, print-on-demand provided flexibility, fast turnaround and savings, Sasson said, by eliminating the cost of makeready, film, plates and storage. Some books that are printed on-demand (Bibles, for example) are likely to be used over long periods of time, on a daily basis, he added, so having a durable cover for them is a must.
Also speaking about color cover and jacket treatment for short-run on-demand projects during BookTech '99 "Book Covers and Jackets: Materials, Methods and Case Studies, Part Two," David Getlen, product manager, digital printing systems, Agfa, Ridgefield Park, NJ, pointed out two design concerns of toner-based four-color web printing on-demand: color reproduction of large areas with solid colors and reproduction of certain shades of green. Getlen called on-demand a fast and efficient approach to printing. "I can customize every single piece that I do if that's what I want to do," he declared, noting that the distinguishing feature of print-on-demand is that it's always customer-driven. "The customer dictates, we respond," he said.
Now more than ever, Getlen pointed out, the new screening technologies, advances in color management and toner development, high job portability and standardized workflow allow print-on-demand to be more efficient, creating a situation where out-of-print books may be a thing of the past. In the meantime, lines between who's doing what are getting more and more blurred, he concluded. "We are no longer publishers or printers or manufacturers. We are all today information providers, and we can choose how we deliver the information."