A New Chapter in Flexible Book Production

Short run promotional sample giveaways for airports, special edition book club runs or promotionally customised offerings.

These creative possibilities are among those that could shape the future of short run digital book production.

Some are already having an impact on today’s route to market for books as we saw at the London Book Fair this month. For example independent co-edition packager Elwin Street produced small quantities of offset-like quality books to cost effectively market their new trade list.

Titles chosen for this innovative treatment were The Vegetarian Year by Jane Hughes, endorsed by the UK Vegetarian Society; The Alkaline Cookbook by Dr Stephan Domenig and the Alkaline Cleanse, the follow-up to the best-selling Alkaline Cure; Love, Aimee x featuring 50 original, creative desserts from Aimee Twigger’s kitchen, as featured on her popular blog.

The new approach was supported by highly flexible, cost effective, easy to operate digital printing production technology from Ricoh and saw 50 editions of each produced.

Elwin Street’s Director Silvia Langford commented that the ability of Ricoh’s digital presses to produce books with high production values in very small quantities enables the publisher to show clients what new titles will look like.

The result was more conversations with more prospects.

However digitally printing books opens up additional opportunities. With digital print it is possible to produce personalised, customised versions of books.

Lost My Name is one company that has already reaped the rewards of personalisation in publishing. David Cadji-Newby who founded the company with three others developed The Little Girl/Boy Who Lost Her/His Name – an illustrated hardback which creates a personalised story around the letters of a child’s name. It has sold 500,000 copies to date, according to its publishers.

A slow start prompted the founders to appear on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den television show, where they secured £100,000 in return for 4% of the company – the highest valuation in the programme’s history. The 30-strong team now ships books, printed on demand, to 136 countries.

It is this kind of innovative approach that will shape the future for book production which is whyat Ricoh we see publishing as a significant opportunity for our digital print technologies. The flexibility that digital print can offer – especially for very short runs – presents so much choice.

Benoit Chaterlard

Benoit Chatelard General Manager Solutions, Production Printing Group, EMEA

It helps publishers like Elwin Street take a more considered approach to their print production processes – they can agree run lengths that suits today’s demand and know there is the ability to produce variable quantities in the future.

So is it time you looked at what considerations should you be evaluating and how can we help?

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


A New Publishing Vision from Ricoh at London Book Fair

Books are different from many other sectors of print because alongside their functional use they create an emotional connection.  The result is people have choice preferences from a quality hardback or a small but perfectly formed paperback to a weighty academic tome or an e-reader.

It is these personal relationships Ricoh Europe PLC will be exploring at the London Book Fair, April 8- 10, at Earls Court, London on stand R505. We will be showcasing a number of interesting applications and services aimed at helping publishers look at their markets in new ways. They are designed to enhance traditional publishing processes with numerous exciting and compelling services that deliver something extra, beyond print.


Bridging the online and offline worlds

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One such technology is video books – where video screens embedded in a publication link to additional relevant content. On the stand will be two video-enabled booklets in action – an instruction book to train end-users and a promotion for teaching and learning resources.

Another is interactive Clickable Paper that bridges the printed page and the online world to provide immediate one-touch access to multiple online resources such as photos, video/multimedia, web sites, e-commerce portals and social networks. It extends the value of the printed page and delivers far-reaching added value to readers, the magazine publisher and advertisers. Adoptees include Dutch Business Magazine De Zaak – it has utlilised Clickable Paper to add value to its publications – and Barnwell Print in the UK which has enhanced books with value-added multi-media content. On stand Where to Fish in Norfolk will offer a real example of this in action.

We are also developing solutions that support the demand for information to be provided across a variety of media. Open Text Book Portal is an online service that enables organisations such as universities to provide students with access to textbook content in multiple formats including print, Word documents and ebooks.


Custom textbooks and Digitally Printed Books

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Then there is our Custom Textbook initiative for the digital production of tailored textbooks.  For example  the US, there is a large market for customised textbooks and we expect this to become a significant growth market in Europe, particularly with opportunities such as those presented by university professors that prefer to create their own specific course materials rather than rely on predefined textbooks.

Visitors will be able to learn more about these technologies and more by viewing an unmissable 42-inch touch-screen Electronic Learning Table providing access to detailed information, documents, examples and videos.

Of course there will be book printing examples too with some created especially for the show including The Cult of Porsche: In the Beginning. The book is designed to be a print experience ‘like no other’ using the very latest digital printing technologies and papers.


So drop by and see how to start a new chapter in your publishing strategy.