I recently attended an event for print and production professionals – the London Digital Book Printing Forum at The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
The event give updates on the key trends and issues in the book market, looking at both the supply chain and book manufacturing, including the status of digital printing. I made it to the afternoon session where speakers covered:
Market Evolution and Emergence of New Business Models: Some of the key players in book publishing, distribution, and manufacturing gave their insights on the changes occurring in print procurement and book distribution, and on the impact of digital printing on the streamlining of the supply chain.
Richard Fidczuk, Production Director at SAGE Publications spoke passionately about their use of digital – they publish 250 books a year and over 500 journals with most journals still being print rather than digital. They printed their first frontlist digital 4 colour title in March 2016 and most reprints are now printed digitally to reduce stock and print runs. In terms of the impact of digital on the supply chain, it means books never need to go out of print. They can also print locally in many different locations which is useful for new books with no sales history.
We also heard from Paul Major, Global Senior Procurement Manager, Oxford University Press and David Taylor, Senior Vice President, Content Acquisition International, Ingram Content Group. All of the speakers agreed keeping stock in warehouses was much reduced nowadays due to print on demand options.
We also heard about some innovations from international publishers, the one that really caught my eye was Frédéric Mériot, Managing Director, Presses Universitaires de France (PUF) talking about sending a ‘statement of disruption’ to the market. They opened a shop in Paris to print their own list (and 3 million Google titles). It’s proved a huge success – you can go in, select a book, get a coffee and the Espresso book machine will print your book while you wait – and with a personalised message if you wish!
It was also great to hear from some smaller publishers in the ‘Medium & Small Publishers’ Points of View’ section. Their workflows and requirements are often very different to the larger publishers but all were using digital printing and POD to some degree. Michelle Jones, Production Manager, IWA Publishing said they need to be flexible and open to new technology and they often select a print process on a book by book basis based on price, quality etc. Claire Watts, Production Manager, Oldcastle Books agreed the POD option would be good for reasons of cost and the environment. Anne Beech, Managing Director, Pluto Press said her colleagues can tell the difference between a litho and digitally printed books (but it’s less likely the readers would) and that POD is the hidden saviour of the small publisher. Daniele Och, Production Director, Zed Books said 90% of their frontlist and all backlist titles are printed digitally and it’s essential to their business to have good digital printing options.
Overall it was a good opportunity to catch up on production and printing news, terminology and what the future might hold.