Every conference, seminar or industry event likes to throw up a controversial statistic or two to get the attendees thinking, talking and sharing. Interquest’s Digital Book Printing Forum in London on June 24 was no exception.
The statement that struck a chord with most of the 120 or so representatives from the book printing and publishing industries in the UK and across Europe was this: self-publishing authors will capture 50% of the ebook market by 2020.
Whether they agreed or disagreed with the projection was one thing but more interesting was the question of defining self-publishing. Where does self-publishing stop and publishing begin? Andy Cork, Managing Director, PrintonDemand Worldwide, explained customers could choose the level of help they would like in getting their book printed from delivering print ready files to editing and promotional assistance. Terry Compton, Production Manager, Troubador Publishing Ltd, added that whatever help is needed can be provided and it depended on their customer’s knowledge and requirements.
Another interesting statement, on the back of Interquest’s latest market findings, was that ebook growth declined from 69% in 2012 to 26% in 2014. Although, it was quickly pointed out, ebooks and printed books will co-exist as readers continue to choose to use the different mediums for a variety of reasons.
The findings also reported 85% of publishers now use digital printing technology for some part of the production process. This was reflected by much discussion on how the printed book can build greater market share. Ricoh Europe’s General Manager, Benoît Chatelard (pictured second left above), explained that improvements in printing technologies was the way forward with high capacity dryers aiding the use of substrates up to 250gsm running at full production speed, improved inks setting gamut and price standards and software for aiding efficient production to eliminate barriers to the effective turnaround of short runs.
Francis Atterbury, Hurtwood Press and Charlotte MacDonald, Director, Special Case Books, felt the quality of the final product was crucial in elevating the perception of digital print. For Mr Atterbury choosing the right substrate was essential in helping create the perfect result.
For Walter Castiglione, Journals Production Manager, LSWR Srl, it was the continued increase in use of colour in the short run book market that will help it grow market share. Between May 2013 and 2014 22 of the 48 new editions it produced were colour. He said: “Digital colour printing is finally stepping up to the plate and in many cases providing a more viable solution.”
Other areas of interest were publishers keen to investigate the potential for software to improve front list and back list management and printers such as John Rowell, Managing Director of Jasprint Ltd searching for ways to way to save costs, shorten run lengths and improve liquidity of assets.
As well as a lot of discussion about what could be done to make improvements in both print and publishing, there was much reassurance asserted that the changes being made were the right ones for the right reasons supported by the right partners. The take home sentiment was that everyone understands the need to change and the mechanics of that change and most have found the help they need but for those that haven’t there is plenty available.
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