More than the general print sector, newspapers in general have been heavily impacted by the internet and mobile devices.
The other day, I received an email from a true "legend" in the bookbinding industry. The email informed me, that after 65 years of service, he was finally going to concentrate on more important matters like taking care of his family. The man is the RIT Professor (Emeritus) Werner Rebsamen. And what a storied career the Professor has had.
Virtually all of the major bindery systems' manufacturers are now concentrating on digital print. And they're introducing new offerings at a rapid pace. This year's drupa will see an eye-popping number of new and innovative bindery offerings designed specifically for digital.
As Donald Trump would say, digital print is "HUUGE!" There are more than enough offerings on both the toner and inkjet side. What has been missing (until now) is a scientific and objective method to accurately measure the performance of a particular press. That ability is finally here in the form of Image Test Labs.
Quick! Name two consumables that are indispensable to operation in the bindery. If you named adhesives as one, you'd be on the mark. But...if you included knives, (yes, they are a consumable), you would be quite savvy. Cutting and trimming are part of almost every finishing operation. And the quality of those cuts are essential to the quality of the finished product.
Industry savants, equipment vendors, and printers, have all piled on the "book-of-one" model for the book printing sector. This manufacturing model uses an inventory-less book manufacturing process. This is where sophisticated software manages retail and wholesale inventory levels in a continuous feedback loop to manage re-stock, or initial production orders.
Sitting less than 30 miles from my modest home office is a print and publishing powerhouse. Thomson Reuters, in Eagan, Minnesota is involved in so many areas of electronic and print media it's hard to tell how many. Founded as West Publishing Company, it eventually grew into the largest printer of legal material in the U.S.
It was heartwarming to read last week's New York Times article "E-Book Sales Slip, and Print is Far From Dead" that was published on Sept. 22. E-book sales continue to slip, and publishers are building new warehouse distribution centers for, yes, REAL BOOKS.
Modern digital finishing systems have developed to become quite reliable press partners, and the overall savings in both time and labor from combining print and finishing are compelling. It's becoming clear, the best combination of digital print and finishing usually wins the deal!
Some lesser-known players in production inkjet are starting to make their mark. One such entity is Super Web Digital of New York.
Despite numerous advances in inkjet print quality, inkjet is not going to replace either web or sheetfed offset anytime soon.
I've written more than once on the rapid evolution of finishing, which is being driven by the equally rapid adoption of inkjet web printing. Inline web finishing was always something of a "black art" in the offset web world. Since high-speed offset web presses don't print at the push of a button, performing complex finishing operations inline with the web press took a lot of engineering expertise.
This is a story that's no doubt been repeated more than once. You're a company with a long and glorious tradition of manufacturing first-class finishing equipment. You've had a terrific run through the 70's, 80's, 90's and into the 21st century. But in the last four years, things have shifted.
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Japs-Olson of Minneapolis—a printer that can trace its roots all the way back to 1907! Japs-Olson embodies the lean manufacturing approach to today's direct mail. What I saw was a "holistic" integrated process. Japs-Olson is capable of sending more than four million pieces a day into the USPS mail stream. To do this efficiently, you need critical thinking to be applied at every stage of the process.
Contrary to some opinionators, direct mail is going strong. Internet ads can't compete with a well-designed, creative, physical mail piece. You might spend a microsecond on a Web ad, but a mail piece has "got you" for 30 seconds at a minimum. So today's mailers are high-tech and well-equipped to keep this medium going strong for many years to come.