Inkjet Helps Book Publishers Adjust to New Market Demands
Printing books on digital presses continues to offer print providers and publishers options to improve efficiency and profitability. While book printers have been producing books on digital presses for some time, innovations in inkjet printing are improving productivity and offering new opportunities for products and services.
A special NAPCO Research report, sponsored by Memjet, highlights the critical trends influencing book publishing and how production inkjet devices are meeting publishers’ economic objectives, expanding market opportunities, and enhancing the value of printed books.
The report highlights:
- Top benefits of digital book printing
- How digital printing technology has the agility to respond to fluctuations in book demand
- Ways digital printing is growing revenue for publishers
- Insights on how digital printing technology meets your consumers’ sustainability concerns
Books, A Resilient Print Application
Books are a print application that continues to demonstrate value, relevance, and resilience. As the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and quarantines throughout most of 2020 brought consumers an unexpected avalanche of homebound hours, many filled the time by reading printed books. Sales momentum continued into 2021. According to Publishers Weekly, citing data from NDP BookScan, book unit sales jumped 18.5% in the first six months of 2021 over the same period in 2020.
The Role of Digital Printing in Book Manufacturing
For over two decades, books have been produced on digital printing systems. A key attraction of digital printing is it offers publishers a way to break out of the expensive cycle of unit costs. With conventional printing on offset equipment, unit cost declines as the number of copies increases. While that works for bestsellers, it makes lesser quantities much more expensive.
Moreover, publishers often had to buy a minimum number of copies specified by the printer to keep unit costs under control. These “minimums” meant publishers sometimes found themselves inventorying more copies than they would be able to sell, leading to extra cost and waste.
In contrast, the unit cost of a book printed digitally stays the same from the first copy to the end of the run.
Digital printing’s ability to print books in economical quantities, all the way down to just one unit, offers publishers a powerful tool to address variations in demand. Eliminating inventory releases the cash tied up every time a book is printed, bound, and warehoused prior to sale. Publishers can instead use the capital for new acquisitions, marketing, and other activities that generate a return on investment.
A NAPCO Research survey of book publishers found that 77% use digital printing to reduce the life cycle cost of book warehousing and returns, while for 74% digital enabled them to print short-run titles that offset couldn’t produce economically (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Key Benefits of Digital Book Printing
Inkjet Advantages for Book Manufacturing
A key challenge for book printers has been finding a digital printing method that matches the quality, speed, flexibility, and affordability of offset printing.
Today, production inkjet makes the offset-to-digital transition for printing books fully achievable, thanks to steady advances in press performance: faster running speeds; higher print resolutions; bigger sheet sizes and web widths; greater longevity of inkjet heads and other critical components; more options for inline and near-line finishing; and probably most important, the increasing ability of these devices to print with sheetfed quality on standard offset papers.
A sheetfed or continuous-feed inkjet press built along these lines is the “white paper factory” that book printers have always longed for: a fully integrated solution for text, color imagery, and variable content that delivers a finished product in a single high-speed pass. The high speed of production inkjet in both monochrome and color also enables it to compete with offset for non-variable work.
Book printing is an incredibly strong opportunity for production inkjet printing. Capturing opportunities in today’s publishing market requires the right equipment and a new mindset. Access the report for analysis on the latest opportunities for book publishers and inkjet advantages for book manufacturing.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.