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.

Ricoh at the London Digital Book Forum: latest news and a new magazine publishing model

There were over 100 attendees at the recent London Digital Book Printing Forum

There were over 100 attendees at the recent London Digital Book Printing Forum

Ricoh was one of the main sponsors at the recent Interquest Digital Book Printing Forum in London on June 20th, Benoit Chatelard (BC) represented Ricoh on the Vendor panel.

Interquest: What’s new with your company since last year ?

(BC) In the Hardware domain, we have released two important graphic arts editions of our product lines.

First of all in the high end, the High Capacity Dryer on our continuous form line to support a much wider range of media (including coated stock). This is very important for high quality books, and in colour provides extremely high quality at an unprecedented speed on heavy media.

It is noticeable that we have now more than three hundred IP5000 print engines installed worldwide. We believe this makes  it the largest Inkjet Drop on Demand installed base.

In the cutsheet environment, our superb graphic arts system the Ricoh C901+  incorporates  for the first time in the market the E100 EFI Ultra Rip digital front end. This is excellent for creating book covers.

In the software and solutions domain, we are “live” in UK with our Clickable Paper solutions at Barnwell Publishing. I presented that solution last
year in this forum as a technology demonstration – we are now in the process of  rolling it out.

Our strategic investment into PTI, has lead to the announcement in Europe of Marcomcentral a solution for digital asset management and electronic stores as well as Web to Print capabilities.

And no later than yesterday Meganews  launched in Sweden the first worldwide newspaper and magazine Kiosk, based on Ricoh Print on Demand technology. It is designed to be rolled out in Shopping Malls and other public areas The kiosk allow you to choose between 200 titles, pay by credit card and get it printed in less than 2 minutes on the spot.


Interquest:  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 6-9 months we sense some disappointment. Some expected digital printing (and inkjet in particular) to grow even faster than it has. What’s your opinion?

(BC) Digital books is absolutely growing and will continue to grow. At Ricoh we see high new demand – for example in the Academic and  Education marketing.

However I have seen recently that there seems to be some over-capacity at existing digital Book Manufacturers. I believe this is a temporary issue and demand will soon pick up.

Interquest: Monochrome inkjet has been well adopted on both sides of the Atlantic for book printing. Colour inkjet, however, seems to be taking more time to take off—particularly in Europe. Cost (both equipment and TCO) is often mentioned as a key barrier to the growth of colour inkjet. What are your views on this ? 

(BC) If you look at the facts,  the costs of investing in Colour Inkjet have actually declined. In fact hardware price have been reduced by 2 in the past 4 years whilst the Ink price has also been consistently reduced.  So the bottom line is that Colour Inkjet solutions have never been so cheap, and the industry has never sold that much colour Inkjet than now.

Although, in many cases, Offset still offers the best cost now and for the foreseeable future , Colour Inkjet is economically perfectly viable for many short run situations and many overall clients looking for process re-engineering. You have to look at the entire cost of the value chain and the service rended to appreciate the viability of the Colour TCO.

Interquest: Substrate limitations have been a major issue with inkjet presses. What developments have been made in the past twelve months? What progress do you expect over the next two years to broaden the range of papers inkjet presses can run, especially in the coated area?

(BC) We work very closely with the Paper manufacturers. Not so long ago the price gap between Offset paper and Inkjet treated paper was 2 times: it is now as low as 20%.

We’ve now qualified more than 400 papers and expect this to grow to 600 paper in the next 18 months primarily focused on coated stocks using our new dryers and improved inks.

Benoit Chatelard, General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA

Benoit Chatelard, General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA


So all in all we believe the market is ready for high speed Colour Inkjet. I believe this market is beginning to mature and there is an increasing range of options available to Book Manufacturers who wish to take advantage of Publishers’ demands for print on demand solutions.


Find out more about Ricoh’s Digital Book printing solutions