Digital Print and Newspapers
While we have seen the success of high-speed digital print in a variety of print and mail sectors, there's one area that seems a bit "dark." That area is the newspaper industry. At first glance, newspapers and digital print would seem to be a match made in heaven. Web inkjet can quickly print localized content, both on the news and advertising side. And it's ideal for shorter-run, specialized editions, such as foreign-language publications serving large metro areas.
And...some web inkjet presses (such as Japanese web press manufacturer TKS) offer a complete press-and-finishing system which will deliver fully sectioned papers at the end of the press. So, how is inkjet performing in the newspaper sector? Moderately well would be a good way to put it. More than the general print sector, newspapers in general have been heavily impacted by the internet and mobile devices. In many cases, circulation has dropped, and staff have been cut. While newspapers will still spend on offset press replacements, the spend on digital print technology is quite limited.
Mike Shafer, vice president of sales and marketing, is optimistic however. The very short runs that many ad insert printers and suburban newspapers have to deal with make inkjet far more practical than offset for these runs. TKS has sold two of it's JetLeader 1500 web inkjet presses to TopWeb LLC in Chicago. The JetLeader boasts a web width of 21.5" at maximum print speed of 492 feet-per-minute. TopWeb has had great success with these units.
Web inkjet also offers complete print customization of the paper or ad insert based upon geographic or demographic values. It would seem that this capability would be quite appealing to advertisers, as they could "narrowcast" their ads right down to the local store level. This is a concept that's been around since the 1990's, but it's only now that we have the technology to make it happen. We shall see. Folks like Mike Shafer are out there spreading the word to potential customers. The benefits are clearly there, but there is still a substantial capital investment. The economy has been slowly gathering steam for some years now. We'll have to see if this makes our newspaper friends more eager to loosen the purse strings!