This has led to a changing value-added chain – book dealers such as Amazon now print
books themselves, and authors are increasingly utilising the vanity publishing model to
publish and sell their creations directly to the public. In short, the market has become
considerably more volatile, ad-hoc and unpredictable.
In scenarios such as this, the book’s intrinsic importance has indisputably declined. The
direction is clear, but it can place book publishers in a difficult position – how should they
respond to these multitudinous changes? Fortunately, there’s a way to deal with the
challenge – printing on demand.
Examine the trends
Evaluate the market
Regardless of the category – from short-run special-interest literature to speculative bestseller editions – more and more books have to be printed while they’re “hot”. It’s increasingly difficult for publishers to guesstimate the quantities they are going to sell. There is also an ever-increasing risk of ending up with piles of unsellable inventory.
Publishers account for a steadily dwindling percentage of worldwide book production volumes. Their share has already dipped below 40 per cent. More and more books are produced and marketed by third parties using non-traditional methods. It’s exactly here, however, that digital printing can build the bridge to combine profitability with superfast response times.
Effectively respond to change
Rethink the structure
Growth in publishing revenues is achievable only through an optimised blend of marketing and production activities that also embrace e-commerce. More and more books are self-published by businesses and organisations or private individuals who take charge of their own marketing and production. Marketing aspects, and direct contact with and access to customers, play a crucial role. The winners are the book projects being managed and controlled directly by consumers. These are projects that use the possibilities of digital communications technology as their value driver. The best example: photo books, created on print portals and printed fully digitally. “Vanity” publishing – where authors themselves take charge of book production and marketing – uses much the same principle.
Leverage every opportunity
Digital printing-based services can also be used by publishers for more effective management of backlist titles. Publishers who can occupy appealing niche themes with innovative products will retain a stable base if they consistently leverage the opportunities of digital printing and the associated new manufacturing concepts. The combination of web and digital printing also creates novel opportunities to take books beyond their role as static products and make them useable as tools in a culture of communication that is end-customer-driven. However, marketing – for series titles, individual titles, and publishing companies – is essential to build trust for the publishing brand, communicate to customers what the brand stands for, and help to navigate them through their purchasing decisions. Find out how Lightning Source from the USA is capitalising on the industrial book-on-demand model in run length by using more than 20 web and sheet fed presses from Océ.
Advance into new opportunities
Recognise the advantages
Essentially, there are three characteristics that make digital printing so appealing for publishing production:
Significant cost advantages over conventional methods for printing short runs of under 3,000 units due to the relatively low fixed costs
Flexibility, permitting last-minute changes and content updates
Short production times because ready-collated copies accelerate finishing and enable just-in-time delivery
The intelligent combination of these properties is the enabler for on-demand production of books in exactly the quantities required by the market. High quality printing of content on typical book paper is now relatively easy to implement, and a solution has arrived for the printing of single hardback covers.
Benefit from the expertise
The awareness and insights are already in place as to what publishers really need – and the digital printing alternative can demonstrate solutions along the entire production process chain. From years of experience, we at Océ know where the strengths and weaknesses of each step in the process lie, and how conventional production (offset) and digital printing can best be teamed together. Océ can therefore advise publishers on business cases for transitioning their portfolios to digital.
Océ colour solutions for digital books
While digital books were traditionally monochrome, productive colour presses can now complement or replace offset presses also for colour book applications. The colour content of books varies heavily depending on the type of books. Océ provides solutions for virtually all book applications:
The only colour element of typical trade books such as novels is the cover or the book jacket. The Océ ColorStream 10000 Flex web fed press is perfect for the production of book jackets in over-sized formats.
Print perfect-bound books with up to 200 sheets on the Canon imagePRESS.
Monochrome books sections can be produced to the highest quality standards on the Océ VarioPrint 6000 presses.
Scientific, technical and medical books have varying colour and monochrome content, ideal for the Océ ColorStream 10000 Flex. With the ability to mix colour and monochrome pages in one run, the system handles jobs that weren’t previously affordable or even possible on one system, such as printing the first few pages of a book in colour at 168 ppm and the next 50 pages in black and white at 800 ppm. The result: Unprecedented productivity and efficiency. Find out how Printforce is benefitting from the ColorStream 10000 Flex.
Educational or scientific, technical and medical books with full colour content are an ideal fit for the Océ Inkjet family including the Océ ColorStream 3500 and the Océ JetStream family replacing offset for run lengths up to 3,000 and beyond.
Analyse the value chain
Digital book production requires more than technical knowledge. To work out how to deploy technology most profitably for any given task or production step, it is essential to analyse the entire value chain. Just comparing unit costs fails to do justice to the complexity. The comparison must take in the entire process from author to reader. Publishers manage this process, but do not execute all the steps themselves. Beyond the cost of production, they have a range of other costs – for instance storage costs and the cost of capital. To identify which production method is the most profitable for the title in question, other process and cost chains have to be calculated, including:
Talk to the experts in digital printing
The obvious route to raising profitability in the book market is to optimise costs by raising returns per title or book. Océ offers publishers a concept by which they can produce each of their titles, and keep them available, using the most economical method – printing on demand.
Digital print has the power to make history come to life. This case study looks at how the diary of a war hero was made available to readers for the first time, thanks to Océ technology.