Digital Book Production — Speaking Volumes

“Today, publishers build just-in-case inventories—just in case they have an order, they want to have the books. But that’s expensive. Digital printing allows them to avoid overprinting by economically printing short runs that complement long offset runs to more accurately reflect the demand cycle. When these demand issues are worked together with an effort to reduce the overhead involved with doing business together, it really changes the dynamic of the relationship for the benefit of both parties.”

In its first year of outsourced, onsite book production, Edwards Brothers’ customer Rowman & Littlefield generated more than $1 million in revenues for books they otherwise would not have been able to produce.

“Digital printing has allowed Rowman & Littlefield to capture revenues we used to walk away from due to the economics of traditional manufacturing,” notes James Lyons, president and publisher, The Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group. “Now, it is never out of print and we can fill any order.”

Edwards Brothers’ overall digital book manufacturing sales have grown by about 20 percent annually in recent years, fueled in part by outsourcing arrangements, while offset revenues have remain essentially flat, the company reports.

“These distribution center printing partnerships give printers and publishers the opportunity to manage a title from its first printing on a web press down to the small quantities required to keep it in print forever,” Edwards adds.

Even the giants of the printing world, known more for mass production, are getting into the short-run book business. Sales leader Quebecor World operates three digital book printing modules, one for the educational market, one for technical documentation and one for trade paperbacks.

“In each case, we selected capabilities that relate to each market segment requirement of print quality, trim size and finishing,” reports Carlos Diaz, vice president of digital book services. “Most importantly, we looked for equipment with the ability to produce books that closely resemble those we produce on offset equipment in terms of quality, cost and durability.”

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