Lightning Source — Electrified Book Production
Digital printing, plus sophisticated application of proprietary software and systems, are key to the lightning-quick turnaround on a daily basis. Marshall notes that the uniqueness of the company’s proprietary workflow and product handling depends on an extremely talented IT staff, and jokes that Lightning Source is essentially “a technology company masquerading as a printer.”
Lightning Source is in the process of transitioning its original output devices to 15 Océ VarioStream 9210s, one of the models built on Océ’s 9000 black and color-capable platform of continuous-feed digital printers. The large order also included the company’s PRISMA production software. According to both Best and Marshall, selection was largely based on improving halftone quality.
The VarioStream 9210 is a simplex or single pass duplex, 852 ipm or 196 fpm, device that offers 600x600 dpi graphic arts quality. Its web format width is 6.5x19˝, which means they can print 6x9˝ books three-up—a must for a digital book manufacturer.
Lightning Source’s proprietary software allows the operation to generate IPDS, PDF, AFP and TIFF data streams as standard output, so the manufacturer is not only running different books side-by-side, but also different PDLs. Content can also be mixed at any time, thus there’s no need to segregate workflow for text- and graphics-intensive books.
“If our average book run is 1.8 copies,” Marshall points out, “I can’t very well print two- or three-up of the same title very often. We have to be able to put three different books across the width of the web.” He does say that the majority of files coming in today are PDFs. Lightning Source uses PDF/X-1A:2001 as its preferred PDF format. Publishers can also submit a hard copy book, which the company will scan and add to the library.
Meeting Color Needs
For its color covers, Lightning Source employs five HP Indigo press 3050s. An HP Indigo w3250 webfed model prints interior color content and full-color books. Marshall indicates that they’re getting ready to add a second w3250.