Digital Digest: Digital Book Printing Conference Is a Bestseller; Manroland Sheetfed Unveils Printing Evolution
NEW YORK—Printing Impressions and its sister publication, Book Business, hosted the Digital Book Printing Conference (a.k.a. DigiBook) at the Marriott Marquis here Nov. 19th. The first conference of its kind, it brought together more than 150 book publishers, book manufacturers and printing industy suppliers for a day of networking and education centered around digital book printing. The event provided a platform for attendees to connect with different players in the book publishing supply chain and to learn about the opportunities digital printing presents for the book manufacturing process.
Marco Boer, vice president of IT Strategies, kicked off the event with the apt keynote, "Harnessing the Advantages of Digital Book Printing and Manufacturing in an Industry Under Siege." Setting the stage for the sessions to come, he explained the forces that have made digital printing not only a viable solution, but a necessary one. (View videos of his keynote and the publisher panel using the Layar app.)
Boer credited self-publishing and e-books with inundating the book market with a greater volume of titles and contributing to the dramatic drop in single-title sales the industry has experienced. "There has not been a bestseller that has sold more than 40 million copies since 2007," noted Boer, "and that was Harry Potter." With less volume per title, he added, publishers are suffering substantial losses from returns and warehousing costs.
Boer, as well as several of the other speakers at DigiBook, lamented that the book industry, by and large, employs printing and inventory strategies from a bygone blockbuster era of book publishing. Yet market forces have compelled many to reassess the entire life-cycle costs of a title. Though it's certainly no panacea, on-demand digital printing presents some solutions for altering how publishers procure and distribute physical books. Technology advancements, especially continuous-feed inkjet printing, have enabled more efficient and cost-effective digital printing that yields a much higher-quality product than what publishers may have experienced from digital in the past.
Following Boer's keynote, a panel of leading book publishers took to the stage to discuss how they are reinvigorating their businesses with new printing technology. "It used to be, when offset was the only weapon, we tried to print at minimum cost," said Bill Gadoury, vice president of strategic sourcing and supply planning at Macmillan Science & Education, "Now, because digital printing can save on inventory costs, we look at the total cost of ownership over the life of the title." Fellow panelist Brandon Nordin, director of the American Chemical Society, agreed, saying that "most of my peers think of digital printing as inventory-less publishing."
Continuing this line of more nimble-minded thinking, Kirby Best, former president of on-demand book manufacturer Lightning Source, spoke to the crowd about embracing digital printing and print-on-demand technologies to reduce risk, reach new markets and save costs. "The ability to print the exact quantity needed, when it's needed, and not fill warehouses full of books that will never be read, is a real possibility with digital printing," said Kirby.
A panel of book manufacturers, consisting of Courier's Steve Franzino; Rick Lindemann, of Total Printing Systems; and George Dick, of Four Colour Print Group, discussed how they're investing in digital printing to respond to publishers' increased short-run, quick-turnaround needs. All agreed that whether digital printing is an apt solution for a publisher really comes to a conversation about the specific printing and fulfillment needs of that publisher.
Speaking from the the "storyteller's" perspective was Karen Romano, a former production executive at Simon & Schuster, who discussed print's resilience and its future in the industry. "Ninety-seven percent of people who read e-books are still wedded to the printed book," said Romano.
For print to continue to thrive, she emphasized that publishers and book manufacturers need to work together. "The relationships between printers and publishers are crucial. Both need to understand the complete supply chain."
Later in the day, executives representing digital printing equipment manufacturers, including Francis McMahon of Canon Solutions America, Marc Johnson of HP, George Promis of Ricoh and Andy Fetherman of Muller Martini, shared their thoughts on the adoption of digital—including high-speed inkjet—printing technology by book manufacturers. These suppliers are all helping printers scale up their digital printing and finishing offerings as technology evolves.
Connecting all the individual sessions was an undercurrent of excitement about digital printing's potential and the great lengths it has come these past two decades. Bruce Watermann, senior vice president of operations at Blurb, observed during the publisher panel, "It's just a matter of time for [digital printing's] quality to match that of offset. It's getting consistently better."
Manroland Sheetfed Unveils Printing Evolution
OFFENBACH AM MAIN, GERMANY—It's not often that a popping-style street dancer and a billionaire are the opening acts for a printing press, but that only goes to show that Manroland Sheetfed knows how to put on a show.
There's no doubt that the 750 customers and prospects from roughly 40 countries (mostly European) were floored by the ROLAND 700 Evolution event that took place at Manroland Sheetfed's headquarters here Nov. 5 and 6. The Evolution was spawned from the same platform as the 700 Direct Drive and 700 HS—which were also on display—boasting nine technological advancements in the process.
While the dancing exploits of Mr. Poppin' Boots, resplendent with red bowler hat and white mask, offered a little flash to the introduction of the ROLAND 700 Evolution, it was the appearance of Tony Langley that drew more oohs and aahs. Langley, the chairman and CEO of Langley Holdings—of which Manroland Sheetfed is a wholly-owned subsidiary—ambled to the stage and delivered a brief, but powerful, message to the European gathering.
"Three years ago, some said Manroland is finished. They were wrong," Langley said. "Three years ago, some said Manroland is not investing in R&D. They were wrong. And three years ago, someone said that Langley was only going to be here for a short time. (But) I can tell you I am here for the long-term."
Visitors were given tours of the manufacturing and assembly shops at Manroland Sheetfed, as well as the foundry. Attendees were clearly fascinated by seeing each phase of a press' development. Sean Springett, the company's marketing manager in the United States and Canada, noted that 130 presses had been manufactured here in 2013.
The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the unveiling of the ROLAND 700 Evolution, which builds upon the ROLAND 700 HS and ROLAND 700 Direct Drive, while adding a smart, sleek look. But a lion's share of the excitement can be found inside the machine.
Among the enhancements: a newly designed central console with touchscreen control; a new feeder pile transport that cuts down on waste; and new suction belt sheet handling technology for a more even pile contour. The press, which has new dampening units, boasts bearings that reduce vibration and—when used with sophisticated software for practice-oriented roller washing cycles—reduces downtime.
TripleFlow inking unit, intelligent speed compensation for inking and dampening units, and effective anti-ghosting solutions are among the other new features offered in the 18,000 sheets/hr. Evolution. PI