8 Benefits of Switching to High-Speed Inkjet


Book printers and publishers have faced a number of serious challenges over the past several years. Customers’ expectations have changed dramatically in a short period of time, leaving businesses to play technological catch-up. With the proliferation of smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and e-books, understanding how consumers are going to access content has become difficult or impossible to predict. Historically, the publication of each and every book has been a gamble, and the profitability of a given book often depended on the publisher’s ability to accurately forecast demand. For publishers and book manufacturers alike, emerging technologies and consumer preferences for print appear to be converging. The result is that print is alive and well even in today’s digital age, and the tools and techniques for effective supply chain management are readily available.

Driven by transformations in market demands, business climates, and technologies, the book printing supply chain has undergone a series of significant changes. Traditionally, publishers focused on unit cost when making printing decisions. When longer-run offset printing was the only option, unit cost was a good way to compare suppliers’ bids. Of course, a low unit cost is a clear advantage when it comes time for a publisher to set the price of a given book. Low unit cost is why publishers generally preferred offset printing — it is an excellent and cost-effective manufacturing process for large quantities. At the same time, however, publishers also want control over inventory and they need to manage the supply chain. Inventory that does not sell after a specific period (usually six months or a year) becomes a financial liability. A publisher might get a great deal on a large quantity of offset-printed books, but what happens if those books don’t sell?

Figure 1: Application Overview — Publishing

Source: U.S. Digital Production Printing Application Forecast: 2016–2021; InfoTrends 2017

When the focus moves away from unit cost and shifts to cash outlay, inventory control, supply chain management, or simply access to titles, digital printing comes to the rescue. Digital printing has redefined the entire book supply chain by mitigating the inherent risks of mass production and offering advantages such as faster time-to-market, reduced waste, and lower fixed costs. Furthermore, although limitations associated with quality, speed, flexibility, and affordability have traditionally slowed the widespread adoption of digital, high-speed production inkjet systems have changed all of that. This has had the single largest impact on the book supply chain, positioning digital print platforms as essential to the success of printers and publishers alike.

In its most recent U.S. Application Forecast, Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends shares the largest applications by page volume in 2016 and their growth through 2021. All of the top applications account for more than 10 billion impressions in 2016. By 2021, the top three applications will be books, direct mail, and bills/statements. Their combined volumes are expected to reach about 286 billion impressions, or 41% of the total volume. Digitally printed book pages are expected to see substantial growth in the future. Digital book pages are forecasted to increase from 87 billion pages in 2016 to nearly 124 billion pages in 2021, representing an increase of 37 billion digital pages. (See Figure 1)

even in today’s digital age.

Beyond the fact that producing pages on inkjet represents an opportunity to grow page volume, there are a variety of other important benefits to making the technological migration for publishers as well as book printers. InfoTrends has identified eight good ways that inkjet can deliver significant value and a revenue opportunity for publishers — while also growing volume for book manufacturers.

  1. Pre production support for comps and sales samples
  2. Decreased risk for inventory, warehousing, and returns
  3. The ability to bring reprints, backlists, and out-of-print editions back for new revenue streams
  4. Improved time-to-market
  5. Decreased cycle time for on demand production
  6. The ability to print lower volume custom, specialty, or self-published books
  7. The ability to include NFC tags, augmented reality, and QR codes to make books more interactive
  8. The opportunity to improve bottom-line results

Print volumes and demand for traditional books have clearly stabilized, and the statistics for 2018 look promising. With customer demand for shorter runs and faster turnarounds, the availability of inkjet technology has created a number of new opportunities for publishers and book manufacturers alike. If you haven’t yet explored the inkjet value proposition, now is the time!