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A new look at book production

Nov 1, 2002 12:00 AM

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Advertorial by Oce Printing Systems USA, Inc.

All printers face the same problems — shorter runs, tighter cycle times, competitive differentiation. In order to survive, there must be a greater emphasis on managing production costs in a more efficient manner. And forward-looking printers also are starting to play a greater role in their clients' distribution needs.

The competitive picture is constantly changing. As some markets struggle to adapt to new ways of doing business, others thrive in the changing economy. Printers must learn to take advantage of the changing business models to craft production models that minimize risk and increase profitability. In confusion lies opportunity.


One such opportunity is book production — an arena in which printers can partner with publishers to improve overall efficiencies across the life of a book title. Just-in-time digital manufacturing methods allow publishers to manage title lifecycle costs in distribution, warehousing and reprints. And printers benefit from better capacity management and enhanced scheduling flexibility.

By using end-to-end digital book production solutions, printers can employ just-in-time manufacturing to help publishers keep all titles in print while cutting losses on poor sellers. In addition, commercial printers can acquire new customers by providing additional products and services.

Digital technology can address customer demand for shorter runs — on demand. The on-demand element reduces the need for large inventories and their associated expense of warehouse space. With a cost-effective, short-run book production solution, printers can offer publishers tighter control of quantities, while making more titles active and marketable over a longer period.

With traditional approaches, capacity management can force a feast or famine business model, resulting in a critical need to manage capacity more efficiently and to control rising transaction costs. By implementing a just-in-time, end-to-end manufacturing model, printers can expand their market opportunities and achieve a true competitive edge.

Quebecor World is one such printer, having understood the need for moving to digital book production. The printer has purchased two Océ high-speed digital printing systems for short-run book manufacturing. But printer hardware is just the beginning in book production. Océ offers a complete solution, including PRISMA software on the front end and both on-line and off-line post-processing choices.

With a roll-in and offline perfect binding and three-knife trimming solution from Océ partner Standard Horizon, the machines are designed to yield high efficiencies on short-run book production.

Quebecor World's customers include publishing giants that are looking to better control costs through just-in-time production methods. But Quebecor World's decision to move to Océ high-speed digital printers was not solely based on time savings. The quality of the text output on the digital printing system is indistinguishable from offset, claim Quebecor World executives. The Océ technology provides the printer and its publisher clients with the utmost flexibility to tackle a short-run on-demand book market. Océ also has garnered worldwide recognition for its diversified book production solutions. In addition to Quebecor, Océ recently installed a book production line at Cambridge University Press in England.


Books, especially in the form of product and service manuals, directories, prospectuses and other bound, multi-page documents, have been traditionally printed on offset presses in runs of 5,000 or more. Many of these short-shelf-life books are being printed on digital presses in multiple runs of less than 500 — with regular updates. The costs associated with prepress, production, warehousing and waste of obsolete versions has made digital printing an attractive alternative.

With 600 dpi being almost universally accepted for such documents, there is little need to incur the added costs of the longer print runs necessary for offset printing. Since these documents are largely black and white with perhaps a spot color, offset printing — despite its higher print resolution — no longer holds an advantage. Spot colors can be quickly added and changed on digital presses such as Océ's digital printers, which feature a Quick Change Developer Station that enables users to change colors in just a few minutes. In fact, it is possible for a document that was previously produced on an offset press in black and white and stored for distribution to be produced more economically on a digital press, with reprints done as needed, adding economic value to the publication.


With digital production technology, publishers benefit from more sales and enhanced profitability. Book printers benefit from profitable new business opportunities and greater flexibility. Successful printers must partner with companies that provide more than just a print engine. Look for suppliers who provide not only hardware, but software and full service support.

For example, Océ's PRISMA Book Publishing Solution includes electronic job ticketing (with remote and Internet job entry), full prepress capabilities and automated workflow functionality.

Transforming existing operations into state-of-the-art processes that integrate just-in-time manufacturing, e-commerce and Internet enablers can position your commercial printing operation to benefit from the new opportunities emerging in digital book publishing.