Punch Graphix Americas
Ebooks get a lot of attention, but there is another publishing world that exists in parallel with the commercial publishing world we see and know. It is the shadow world that evolved from the copier and later the digital printer — for the first time, individuals could make their own books.
We know that books printed digitally have tended to be, like the old stitch about newspapers, black and white and read all over. For most of digital printing's existence, producing professional four-color books just wasn't possible; you had to use offset. But the times they are a-changing, and technological advances are making the production of full-color books in longer short runs more feasible and economical than ever before. The advent of sheetfed digital printing brought us the ability to print full-color books in very short runs—it was responsible for opening up the high-growth photo book market. Now "4-up" and roll-fed "printer/presses" are further changing the full-color publishing paradigm.
Before we go further, let's define some terms, as printers are, in essence, quite different from presses. Printers regenerate the impression for each copy from a digital file, which allows them to use electronic collation and print the pages of a book block in order. Presses, on the other hand, use a physical image carrier (a plate) to reproduce large printed sheets which are folded into signatures, gathered and bound. But printers become, in essence, presses when either the sheet size or output speed starts to approach the specs of an analog reproduction device (aka a press). A "printer/press" is my term for printers that have many characteristics of a press.
This week will see the launch of a revolution in printing that may turn out to be as significant as the invention of the Gutenberg printing press - if entrepreneurs and analysts are to be believed.
Visitors to drupa 2012 will see a number of rival technologies launched, each of which promises to deliver a "second digital revolution in printing" that will allow the digital printer to kill off the offset press for commercial printing, and may even allow the printed page to compete with the iPad.
Xeikon today announced that Bradford & Bigelow, Inc. has seen improvements in short-run book printing operations with the use of their Xeikon 8000 digital press.