SHORT-RUN BOOKS - Book of One
And, without any inventory, publishers can sell books, printed on-demand, to fulfill existing orders.
Based on a "book of one" model, many of today's top digital book printers—including Xyan.com (which supplies digital, on-demand products for Banta), Quebecor World, Edward Brothers Book Manufacturing (EB), Integrated Book Technology (IBT/Global) and Lightning Source (a division of Ingrams), among others—are creating products one at a time (just in time), rather than creating inventory (just in case). The traditional short run of 100 to 500 copies has been shortened to less than 20.
Binding Is Key to Quality
New advancements in bookbinding equipment are allowing manufacturers to produce quality products quickly, which is a requirement for any type of printing—particularly short-run books. New auto-makeready features allow binders to automatically sense and adjust to different trim sizes and bulks for each book, binding up to 60 books per minute.
The ability to bind at 60 books per minute is not an extraordinary feat; binders have been capable of such speeds for several years—off-line, that is.
"Initially, in-line finishing equipment was added and put at the back of the [printing] machine," explains Bill Clockel, vice president and owner of Troy, NY-based Integrated Book Technology (IBT). "The problem was that the print engine wanted to produce a book every three minutes, but the binding equipment wanted to produce 60 or 70 per minute. So the in-line equipment was not productive. But the new digital binding equipment realizes that there are efficiencies in manufacturing multiple units off-line, instead of at the back of the press."
Clockel predicts that the industry is about a year away from seeing "state-of-the-art solutions, especially for case binding, that feature the same efficiencies we have grown to enjoy with digital printing. Staffing, makeready time and throughput have always been the obstacles when dealing with traditional binding requirements, as well as dealing with the collated sheets output by digital sheetfed and web presses."