Interquest Reveals Publishing’s Self Awareness

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.

The Interquest event was held near London's Trafalgar Square

The Interquest event was held near London’s Trafalgar Square

Fine out more about Ricoh’s solutions for Publishing and Book printing


Digital Book Printing’s Profit Turning Plot Twist

The prevalent thorny issue in production printing remains price. Most buyers still shop around for the best deal and think the lower the figure the better. All the while print service providers struggle to reduce their running costs in an effort to improve margins.

There are many sectors where this is an obvious market pressure but it is undoubtedly a crucial one in book publishing which is why it is being highlighted at the Interquest 2014  London Digital Book Printing Forum , June 24.

John Rowell, MD Jasprint Ltd

John Rowell, MD Jasprint Ltd

It is something close to the heart of Ricoh ProC901 user John Rowell, Managing Director of Tyne & Wear digital print specialists Jasprint. At the event he will highlight how business models are changing and customers are realising that spending a bit more on a book can help save money in the long run.

For example one publishing customer , The Memoir Club, had been used to producing runs of a thousand or more to obtain a cheaper,  bulk purchase, price. But then it had to find somewhere to store the books before being sold.

If they were not sold they then had to be recycled at extra time and cost. The money paid to have the books printed, amounting to tens of thousands of pounds, was tied up and subsequently written off.

The Memoir Club had not realised that via the print on demand capabilities offered by digital printing they may pay more for their books initially but these will actually cost less in the long run.

By buying books in small quantities , and only when they need them, less cash is spent  maintaining liquidity. Also the need for storage and stock control is reduced. Wastage is kept to a minimum.

This approach can be applied to all elements of commercial printing from letterheads and menus to catalogues and brochures. It also enables publishers to be more flexible and creative with book covers, designs and issue releases.

For the digital printer support of publishers’ other services, aside from book printing, can be offered to include promotional literature such as point of sale and posters.

Then there is fast-growing self-publishing market that digital printing has helped make increasingly affordable and easy to navigate.

Digital print creates a nimble, agile, service offering and  delivers the ability to differentiate on more than price.  It provides the ideal production platform to show publishers just how deftly they can manage their transformation into a more flexible and responsive book production enterprise.

Breakfast Discussion on the Next Chapter For Books


At Ricoh we have a strong understanding of what major issues the publishing industry is currently facing and we have created a robust portfolio of services and solutions to help them overcome them. However, it is one of the fastest changing sectors and as such we know how important it is to be aware of any potential market shifts before they make any significant impact.

This is why we chose to sponsor one of London Book Fair’s first ever breakfast meetings and the results were very interesting.

With more than 30 managing directors and CEOs from publishers, printers, associations as well as industry consultants the discussions surrounding the topic of Transforming Creative Business in a Digital Age – Exploring New Business Models was extremely incisive.

It was very interesting to hear how content creation and dissemination remains a key concern for publishers – particularly smaller ones. This is something recent Ricoh sponsored research The Challenge of Speed by The Economist Intelligence Unit touched on. It  discovered 98 % of European education leaders believe they need to change faster now than they have done over the last three years, but are energised about the role of technology in the future of learning and are  interested in ways to make the education sector more responsive. This has led to some looking at alternative solutions such as book customisation and how that supports learning programmes.

Publishers partnering with innovative operations was also suggested as a way of moving away from the more traditional skills set and introducing some creative elements while maintaining core competencies. And while not everyone can follow Facebook’s example of buying Wassap to introduce a fresh perspective there are lessons that can be learned.

Integrating a more creative approach, such as working with a start up, can help a big company make some key changes and grow in a more independent way.

Another option is expanding the ‘direct-to-consumer’ approach which can work well when customer loyalty is strong. Panel member Rebecca Smart, CEO of Osprey group, warned that this was difficult to do and even more so to do it well. There is also pressure on publishers to discover new patterns and new supply chains but there are a wealth of tools to help them achieve that.

Ricoh’s Benoit Chatelard commented it was Interesting to note that the product is not the content, a book is an expression of the content.  It is how that content is marketed that is important. Andy Cork, Managing Director of printer Printondemand-worldwide agreed when he said, as a content aggregator, he needed to understand what publishers want and, as a printer, the business needs to evolve and develop ways to helping sell books.

Publishing and digital consultant Anna Rafferty explained when she was at Penguin a reader community was created as a channel to market but also as a way of gaining insight into market requirements that then informed decision making.

These perspectives were delivered on a backdrop of details on e-reader sales that highlighted a successful 2011 with spikes around Christmas and the release of the Kindle Fire. However global take up remains patchy. The UK is no longer so far behind the US and in Europe interest from Germany was set to increase, followed by Spain. France remains a long way behind. Australia was also a promising market as was India.

What was clear is that there is no one size that fits all and what is relevant in one space is not relevant in another. It is also not about what technology will allow us to do but what can be usefully done with it.

A New Publishing Vision from Ricoh at London Book Fair

Senior Publishing Execs attended the Ricoh Breakfast Briefing

Senior Publishing Execs attended the Ricoh Breakfast Briefing