Digital book printing was a hot topic at Hunkeler Innovationdays 2013. Therefore it was timely that Market Research consultancy Interquest ran their Digital Book printing forum at the show. In Interquest’s quarterly forum, leading book printers and publishers, suppliers, influencers, and other major players of the book supply chain share their experiences, present their latest developments, discuss hot topics and challenges, and provide their vision of the future.
Ricoh‘s General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Business Group, Europe Benoit Chatelard participated in the forum and provided an update on Ricoh company strategy, developments, and recent success stories in the book market.
What book applications are you demonstrating here on the show floor?
We are showing a range of real-life book applications, to show how the very latest technical advances in paper, inks, printheads and workflow have resulted in quite amazing enhancements in quality. Two great examples are:
- Colorado’s Fourteeners – a guide to climbs and hikes on the 14,000 feet peaks in Colorado USA. Colour cover with Mono inside.
- The Undaunted Garden – a classic US gardening book. Full colour throughout.
To find out more, see: Digital Book Printing at Hunkeler Innovationdays
According to INTERQUEST research, digital book printing is growing at 20% or more annually, both in North America and Europe. There’s no doubt that digital book manufacturing has been successful, but in interviews and conversations with key industry players (book printers and equipment vendors) over the past 6-8 months we sense some disappointment. Some expected digital printing (and inkjet in particular) to grow even faster than it has. What’s your opinion?
I agree that all market studies show huge opportunity. People understand the value of digital book printing and the technology is now available to be able to deliver.
However, at the same time, I find that moving from offset to digital is a radical change for many people. Sometimes there is still a too emotional analysis of print quality versus the value of new services, and a focus on the break even points instead of changing the value chain to reflect the new realities. As a result the overall ecosystem can sometimes be resistant to change.
Overall, though the case for digital book printing is compelling. So I am convinced that it’s adoption will gather pace.
What key differences do you see between regions in Europe in terms of the adoption of digital printing?
The adoption is now pretty much everywhere without exception.
Monochrome inkjet has been well adopted on both side of the Atlantic for book printing. Color inkjet, however, seems to be taking more time to take off—particularly in Europe. Do you see any change coming in this area any time soon?
Yes the first projects were more in the trade book segment and it is still where the highest volumes are in terms of printed digital books. But now new segments are developing such as Academic publishing, magazines for professionals , and collateral that requires colour.
What are, in your opinion, the best opportunities for printers to add value/distinguish themselves from competitors with digital printing in the book market ?
There can be too much focus on the economics, where in fact the printers need to focus as much on offering new services or enabling cross media communication. More personalisation, versioning, and “Augmented Reality” solutions like Clickable Paper from Ricoh are some potential new avenues that printers should be considering.
Substrates limitations seem to be a major challenge for a number book printers who are currently using inkjet presses as well as for some looking into acquiring inkjet presses. Where do you stand in terms of developments/partnership in this area to resolve this issue?
Substrate support for new technologies is always a challenge. The paper manufacturers will support a new technology only when they see sufficient volumes. That’s why we at Ricoh work closely with leading paper suppliers to minimise these limitations.
When we launched our IP5000 Inkjet Platform in 2007 we supported just two paper substrates. Now, some six years later we support over 400 paper substrates – and we are adding new ones all the time. A major reason for this is the success of the IP5000 family – we are very proud of the fact that our clients have now printed over 35 billion Colour Inkjet pages printed on the IP5000 platform. An incredible story of protection of investment and technological evolution.
This week we also demonstrated on the show for the first time in Europe the High Capacity Dryer for the IP5000 GP which is designed to extend further media options by helping to run speciality and less expensive papers – with the added benefit of enhanced colour vibrancy and accuracy.
Where do you think we are in the adoption curve of digital book manufacturing overall? How far can it go and how fast do you think it will grow compared to what we have seen already?
Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA
We have just started to scratch the surface. It is just a fraction of the offset print output that could ultimately move to digital production. The economic crisis across Europe will force change and, can generate an acceleration of the transformation of traditional print to digital book printing.
For me, it’s an exciting time. You can see from the samples we have produced on our stand at Hunkeler Innovationdays that clearly the technology is ready. The question is no longer if the market will really take off, but when.
For more information about Ricoh’s solutions and initiatives see: Ricoh-europe.com/printandbeyond