How print is evolving to meet the new needs of the connected world

With more than one-third of the world’s population now online (Pew Research Center), it is little wonder that the role of printed communications is changing. The challenge is that the time spent with various media is rapidly shifting from traditional channels such as radio, TV, and print to internet and mobile channels. This means the role of printed communications must be readjusted and redefined in the broad spectrum of all media.

Time spent on each Media vs Advertising Spend

Time spent on each Media vs Advertising Spend

Not surprisingly advertising dollars are now moving to online and mobile markets. According to PWC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2013, internet advertising grew by about 16%, and mobile advertising by 47% in 2013.

This has major implications for key areas of printed communications of interest to Print Service Providers.

Direct mail and direct marketing catalogue volume has suffered at the hands of the recent recession and the rise of electronic media. Although both remain key marketing channels for businesses, they are increasingly being orchestrated alongside digital forms of communications.

Transactional printing – unlike direct mail and catalogues, which are business-driven marketing expenditures, transactional printing is increasingly consumer-driven since recipients dictate their preferred delivery methods

Books – Electronic media has profoundly disrupted the book publishing industry by fundamentally altering the dynamics of how books are sold and consumed. Book publishers and book printers are adjusting to the fast moving realities of the market and tapping new business models enabled by publishing in a multichannel world.

Newspapers and magazines have been impacted by online advertising, rising postal costs, and competition from electronic media. Newspapers and magazines remain widely read and trusted, however, and publishers are finding new and innovative ways to combine print with electronic channels.

Our new white paper, Multichannel Communications The Evolution of Printing in a Connected World,  examines how advertisers and publishers are adapting printed products to multichannel realities in a number of key markets: direct mail and direct marketing catalogues; transactional printing; books; and newspapers and magazines.

Download the white paper here

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.

Printed books still have a great story to tell


Digital books long v2

If you travel on trains and buses packed with commuters staring at mobile devices rather than books, or look at the high streets with very few bookshops, you might think the book publishing and printing industry was in a sorry state.  Certainly this market is in a period of transition, but there is still life left yet and in particular a massive opportunity for digitally printed books.

Predictions from Nielsen research had e-books overtaking sales of printed books in 2014, with total sales expected to rise to 47 million units. This would put total e-book sales 300,000 ahead of their print equivalents and mean that electronic books accounted for 48% of the overall fiction market. However predictions based on historic data show a more mixed picture for publishers. Sales of e-books fell for the third consecutive month in April 2013, so it appears that the days of double or even triple digit growth for the market might now be gone, with e-book sales growing by only 5% to $393.6 million in the first quarter of 2013. E-book sales look set to take just under half of the total fiction market in the UK and more than a fifth (22%) of the overall UK book market, according to recent Bowker Market Research.

How is the digital revolution affecting the printed book market?

The Publishers’ Association annual statistical digest seems to paint a different picture. The industry had a record year for sales in 2013 up 4% to £3.3bn. The physical printed book is under threat from all those Kindles, Kobos and Nooks, but reports of its demise may be premature. A total of £1.416bn was spent on paperbacks and hardbacks in the 52-week period up to 28 December, according to Nielsen BookScan data, however the total number of printed books sold dropped – falling 9.8% to 183.9 million.

Despite the overall market slump, Nielsen data showed that the average selling price of a book reached a nine-year high, rising 21p to £7.70. In some genres, notably children’s books, sales actually rose. The figures also show that the pace at which we’re switching from physical to digital books varies according to the type of title. Apparently, 26% of fiction sales are digital, whereas for non-fiction books the figure is just 5%, and for children’s titles, 3%.

Why? Well perhaps for fiction it is only the words that matter, and they can be rendered as well or better in digital form, whereas for something like a glossy cookery book or an illustrated children’s book, the physical object still delivers a much better and more practical experience.

The continued growth of the digital e-book market is in part responsible for the large drop in printed book sales. Recent consumer data figures showed more than two million UK users joined the digital book market in the first nine months of 2013. However, the Bookseller said the fall in value of the book market was also due to the slowdown in sales of EL James’s Fifty Shades novels. In 2012, the author’s trilogy sold in record-breaking numbers. At its peak, the series accounted for almost half of all novels bought in the UK. James’s sales for 2013 totaling £1.4m, compared to £47.3m in 2012, when the trilogy sold 10.5 million copies. This demonstrates how overall statistics can be misleading and how important runaway success titles are to a publishers bottom line. In the rapid shift to e-readers, publishing seems to be weathering the digital climate change better than some other media industries.

As for authors each digital sale earns them a few pennies more than the royalty from a physical book sale purchase. Still, neither publishers nor authors seem to have seen their incomes damaged significantly by either piracy or the wider digital revolution.

For bookshops the news is not so good. Independent Book Shops, continue to close as readers turn to online giants like Amazon for both physical and digital books. Meanwhile, UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced it is to stop selling printed books online, they see the future online opportunity in digital products only, with physical music, books, games and films sold only in stores. Because of this trend, readers, have a wider choice, and perhaps the prospect of lower priced books.

Trends in Self-publishing are creating new printing opportunities

The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287% since 2006, with 235,625 print and e titles released in 2011, according to analysis of data from Bowker. The research found that while production increases are occurring in both print and e-book formats, the latter is driving the greatest percentage gains. It also shows that while self-publishing may seem like a cottage industry, it is dominated by large firms that offer publishing services to individual authors. According to Bowker in 2011 self-published printed books represented about 43% of that year’s total traditional print output. While print accounts for 63% of self-published books, e-books are gaining fast. E-book production in 2011 was 87,201, up 129% over 2006, compared to print, which only grew 33% in the same period.

While self-publishing is a DIY model, its infrastructure is made up of a handful of large players like CreateSpace, Lulu, Author Solutions and Smashwords. However the category for publishers who have produced 10 or fewer books accounted for 34,107 self-published titles of which only 21,256 were printed. Printed copies in this category grew by 74% between 2006 and 2012.

Self-published authors can sell their e-books on Amazon’s international sites when they use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). When authors upload those books to Amazon’s free print publishing tool, CreateSpace, Amazon will distribute the books to,,, and When consumers in those countries (or in the U.S.) order a CreateSpace book, Amazon prints it on demand and the books are available for same-day shipping. Using CreateSpace is free, but an author’s royalty payment depends on factors like page count and color.

How is digital print adapting to changes in book publishing?

The ability to self-publish and digitally print on demand via web to print systems and digital storefronts has opened up a new world of opportunity to the SME commercial printer

The ability to self-publish and digitally print on demand via web to print systems and digital storefronts has opened up a new world of opportunity to the SME commercial printer. Social media platforms and viral marketing have enabled printers to find new audiences in B2B and B2C markets, allowing them to sell new services like personalised books. Linking this opportunity to new sales and marketing activities is creating big opportunities in previously untapped markets like corporate events, special interest niches, hobbies and local audiences like cat and dog shows, Women’s Institute groups and sports clubs.

For print providers the book market is expected to show the biggest gain in page share, experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 14.2% between 2010 and 2015, accounting for over 45 billion pages in 2015. Due to the inventory cost and waste associated with traditional offset production for books, digital has now become a major force in publishing. If we consider the Digital Value v Volume Proposition we can see that compared to digital other traditional printing processes have become much more commoditized.

Technology Page Volume compared to digital Value compared to digital
Coldset 362 times 2.7
Heatset 42 times 5
Gravure 4 times .5
Sheetfed 2.3 times 1.7

Smithers Pira Projections to 2015 based on pages produced and value generated.

Looking at the total print area of book pages printed, we can see that 63% of the market relates to production runs of over 5,000 which will be most economically produced by offset. If we compare this to the actual number of jobs produced, we can see that 79% of jobs fall into a category of production volumes under 5,000, which is better suited to digital production. When we factor in the advantages of printing on demand, it is apparent why there is such growth potential for digital in the future.

Both Inkjet and toner digital printing have already begun to displace offset printing of books, and this change will surely accelerate. The rationale is simple. More efficient technology and comparative quality will be the drivers for rapid growth. These days it is almost impossible to tell whether a book has been printed on an offset machine or a digital one. However the main driver for change is all about economics. Estimating the demand for books, and therefore the print run required has always been a guessing game, which has meant the publishing supply chain has been exceedingly wasteful, with at least 30% of books returned to the publisher as unsold.

Publishers and authors are responding to digital printing

In the face of uncertainty, publishers are beginning to embrace digital because it enables shorter runs. Shorter runs reduce the amount of unsold books, reduce storage costs, allow reprinting in smaller batches, and offer the opportunity to print specialty books for niche markets, including self-published books. There is much confusion about how consumers want their content delivered, but digital printing offers a flexible solution to provide what the publisher needs, when they need it, where they need it, and in the quantity required. Publishers now understand the digital value proposition, and the returns that can be generated.

Digital printing technology offers publishers:

  • Risk reduction: demand is difficult to forecast, but high-speed inkjet and electrophotographic technologies enable the economical production of books in small quantities. Publishers can monitor the demand and order only what is required to eliminate warehousing and return costs.
  • Cycle time for on demand: a number of highly sophisticated on-demand printers are able to turn orders around within 24 hours. Publishers can quickly react to market demands for printed books.
  • Specialty books and fresh content: everyone has a story to tell. Digital printing eliminates the minimum quantity requirements and enables the printing of books in very low quantities. Furthermore, every page that is digitally printed can be unique.
  • Digital printing opens up creative opportunities for in-line customisation, personalisation, and real-time marketing activities such as cross-selling or promotional material inclusion.
  • Bottom line business results: by following the demand curve more closely and minimizing warehousing and returns costs, publishers can have greater inventory turnover and improved profitability.

 Digital Printers are adding value with:

  •  Fast track order management: taking a customer’s order with a print file and seamlessly processing it, this usually requires integration with the Internet for speed and 24/7 accessibility.
  •  Exponential increase in SKUs : printing digitally on demand and leveraging the long tail creates enormous volumes of low run products.
  • Real-time scheduling and customer updates: in order to provide world class customer service scheduling and information must be instant and transparent.
  • Same day assembly of components: turnaround expectations from internet purchases are on average 48 hours, which means that print production and finishing usually has to be completed within 24 hours.
  • Direct shipping to last-minute destinations : as the print provider is now dealing direct with the end user it is essential that he provides a service for packing and distribution. This is a critical area for focus as this part of the business can be more time consuming and costly than the production of the book itself.
  • Rethink:  equipment, process flow, shopfloor management, systems, performance metrics – Compared to a standard print production environment, the workflow and management systems have to be totally automated and provide real time feedback on scheduling and performance metrics.


We are always hearing about the demise of printed books in favour of electronic copies and the sustainability arguments about print being harmful to the environment due to deforestation balanced against the negativity of energy consumption from electronic devices. Today’s reality is that consumers can now choose how they want to be communicated with and can decide on the most convenient channel and medium, which is often a combination of both hard copy and a digital file.

Neil Falconer -Print Industry Strategy Consultant and MD of

Neil Falconer -Print Industry Strategy Consultant and MD of

The consequence of choice and multi-channel consumption is that printed books will co-exist with their electronic counterparts for many decades to come. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the retailers, publishers and printers to make sure that books are manufactured and sold through the most environmentally sustainable supply chain possible and that is inevitably going to include, offset printing, digital printing and electronic formats.

This article was commissioned by Ricoh to bring you independent opinions from industry experts. We hope you find our guest speaker’s views interesting and stimulating. We would appreciate your feedback.

For more information see:

What the Lessons Learned in Transactional Workflows Have to Teach Book Printers

Duncan Newton, Commercial Print Product Marketing Consultant, Ricoh USA

Duncan Newton, Commercial Print Product Marketing Consultant, Ricoh USA

I once worked with a man who said he wasn’t going to anymore Lessons Learned meetings until someone learned a lesson. He was being facetious, but there was an element of truth to what he said.

Too often we overlook solutions that are developed in another discipline because we don’t believe they have any application to our specific business.

Digital book production is just such a case. When books started to be produced digitally there were no established workflows that met the needs of the printers. Prinergy, Apogee, Prinect, and even Rampage, all were built around traditional offset production systems. Their focus was on scheduling, making film, burning plates, make-ready, creating imposition schemes, signature folding, binding, trimming, etc. And, for the last 10+ years they were driven by PostScript or PDF file structures. To adapt/adopt, many digital printers resorted to homegrown systems that were built in pieces, difficult to support and still not quite what they needed.

The chief difference between offset and digital is that digital printers produce pages in sequential order. In other words, when the last signature or stacked book block is delivered from the cutter/stacker it’s ready for binding without any further operations required. The first book is ready for binding in just the time it takes to print it.

During the reign of the toner-based continuous feed presses, the easiest way to make books was to bypass the process of signature folding. Rolls of paper went in, the books were printed 2- or 3-up, slit into ribbons, cut and stacked into offset book blocks. These book blocks were put directly into a binder and then into a trimmer. Early digital book printers invented a market for extremely short-run book production where none had existed before. Fleets of toner printers have expanded from just a few machines in one shop to dozens stationed all over the world. Their internal workflow systems were 100 percent home grown and most remain essentially the same to this day.

The Tools necessary for 21st-century communications

“The ADF architecture is the foundation for numerous applications of personalized variable data printing.”

Meanwhile, the transactional printers were doing something completely different…or so it seems from the outside looking in. In 1984 IBM invented the Intelligent Printer Data Stream™ (IPDS™) architecture that still drives almost every phone bill, credit card statement, insurance explanation of benefit (EOB) and bank statement in the world. In 1996 the Gartner Group developed the concept of an automated document factory (ADF) which was built around the core capabilities of IPDS. The original ADF concept was broken down into four modules with the first three focused on the data being received into the system and managing it all the way through from production to delivery. The fourth module was a bidirectional communication control that sat on top of the other three modules and addressed the needs of management for various reports about the operation of the factory:

  • Input—all the data and the instructions that are needed to transform the data into documents processed in the ADF.
  • Transformation and integrated output – the data and instructions are joined, and the documents are produced in the appropriate media.
  • Delivery preparation—documents are prepared for delivery to the recipient.
  • Control and reporting—manages production aspects of the ADF.

The structure was later expanded to include:

  • Document design and content integration—designers and design tools were integrated with operations management and ariable data printing tools.
  • Response management—consisting of integrated response analytics.

The elegance of the ADF architecture wasn’t in the modules but rather in the interfaces that connected them.

Print and mail facilities had to be able to efficiently produce huge volumes of personalized  communications. The ADF model gave technology providers and print service providers the framework for developing and implementing the architectures and tools necessary for 21st-century communications.

The ADF architecture is the foundation for numerous applications of personalized variable data printing. Printing companies with an ADF in place are able to smoothly compile, print, mail/ship and analyze a wide range of marketing and transactional communications including CRMbased printing and TransPromo messaging.

Madison Advisors also noted that ADF handles more than just document production. “ADF now includes data management, content management and integration, color management, and document composition functions previously found upstream1.”

But what has this got to do with a PDF workflow for making books?


Since the acquisition of the former IBM Printing Systems Division, Ricoh has continued to expand the functionality of its software suite to match an expanding set of requirements from print providers that are not doing transactional work. With the introduction of RICOH ProcessDirector, the expansion has become even more powerful and includes a list of capabilities that printers would see as exactly what they need:

  • Automated print management with scalable workflow control functions
  • Graphical workflow builder that allows you to easily apply business rules and logic
  • Optional PDF Mailroom Integrity Feature, which provides document-level control of PDF jobs and 100 percent closed loop reprint automation of PDF files without any further transforms
  • The InfoPrint Ink Suite, which can deliver quick results in ROI by optimizing files for color, automating ink usage estimates and integrating with your Enfocus PitStop server
  • A database-driven process engine with an extensible backbone for process management
  • An embedded IBM® DB2® database, a Print Services Facility print driver and a built-in AFP and PDF viewer
  • Precise management of document reprints from within your print centers
  • Ability to start small and grow as your requirements change

Each and every one of these capabilities can find a home in a dedicated book production facility or commercial print-for-pay shop. The more complex the shop, the more these capabilities become central to a successful production environment. When all these elements are put under one system’s control, themanagement of the company gains many advantages that will make their entire operation more efficient and better equipped to meet tight SLAs.

As a book printer’s business expands, the system is ready. Its open architecture is designed to be extensible to span the total production environment. Adding features like color management, imposition, or digital asset management is easy. The system is so flexible that printers do not have to abandon any of the productivity tools with which they are familiar.

Solutions for Book Printers

“As a book printer’s business expands, the system is ready.”

Plus, the entire framework is in a constant state of review and upgrade by a group of more than 50 engineers and system architects. Ricoh development is driven 100 percent by customer requirements and direct involvement in customers’ shops. These teams work in concert with customers and push themselves to create progressively better systems. Ricoh is committed to providing commercial printers and book printers with alternative solutions that support open industry standards and connections to key production print technologies across vendors. This is seen in the on-going strategy of Ricoh to make substantial investments in companies like PTI Marketing Technologies and Avanti Computer Systems, which have complementary systems.

PTI Marketing Technologies is a leading provider of webto-print and marketing personalization solutions for both enterprise users and print service providers. Together, Ricoh and PTI are bringing new technologies, software and services to market. This enables companies to drive relevant, multichannel marketing campaigns at global, regional and local levels.

Avanti’s core technologies are uniquely positioned to complement Ricoh’s offerings with advanced solutions for mixed environments with wide format, digital cutsheet, continuous feed printers, offset, and fulfillment and kitting operations.

RICOH TotalFlow Cadence for Publishing was developed around the capabilities described above, with a few significant changes designed specifically for a shortrun digital book production environment. It allows

book printers to sort and optimize books with different characteristics automatically while taking advantage of a true automated document factory.

So…what can book printers learn from a transactional workflow?


For more insights from Ricoh see;



Line of books

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.


Flexible Production is The Future for Printed Books

eBooks may not have had as much of an impact in Europe as they have in the U.S., but demand will grow. This, along with other dynamics affecting the book printing and publishing markets in Europe, will shape the future of book production, according to new research commissioned by Ricoh Europe PLC.

eBooks represent 20 percent of book revenues in the U.S., four times that of most major European countries, where printed books are still highly prized and under a certain level of regulatory protection by the EU and various individual European governments.  In recent research commissioned by Ricoh, I.T. Strategies found that even in the U.S., nearly 70 percent of consumers said it was unlikely that they would give up entirely on printed books by 2016 and the study found that as much as 60 percent of eBooks downloaded are never read.  In Europe and other parts of the world, however, book publishing dynamics are quite different than they are in North America. Ricoh commissioned the I.T. Strategies study to gain a better understanding of these influences, the differences between the U.S. and Europe in these markets, and the changes that both book publishers and book printers in Europe can expect to see over the next several years.


“There is a deep history of publishing in Europe and a very strong connection of publishing to the culture of individual countries. As a result, there is a common desire by the individual ECC members to protect their culture, which includes protecting the book publishing industry’s established business models.”

Major European Country and U.S. Book Statistic Summary, 2012

Major European Country and U.S. Book Statistic Summary, 2012

“Many of the larger book printers/manufacturers may have over-reached with acquisitions and aggressive price competition in the race to gain market share.  Smaller book printers/manufacturers have remained somewhat insulated from competition due to regional and specialty products focus. But at some point they may find themselves priced out of the market.”

ebook Share of Retail Revenue, 2010-2018, by Major Country

ebook Share of Retail Revenue, 2010-2018, by Major Country

The full research report can be downloaded here.  

Getting started in Digital Print: a Publishers Perspective


This article was initially published to accompany a Ricoh Americas Event for Publishers late 2013.

Mike Gallagher, Vice President, Penguin Books

Mike Gallagher, Vice President, Penguin Books

No matter who starts the initial conversation about digital print, book publishers and printers need to exchange an enormous amount of information if a print agreement is to be successful. Assuming both parties are starting from scratch, here are the key drivers:

  • Publishers want to reduce inventory/cost and expand sales by keeping titles in print.
  • Printers want to enhance their service platforms and add new profitable sales by keeping alive more “long tail” titles.
  • Publishers determine the scope of their projected program and provide the printers with volume requirements by week, month and year—with numbers based on format, units, orders, print runs, bind styles, 4/c cover specifications, finishing, paper grades, carton packs, shipping information and electronic systems.
  • Using the publisher’s data, printers decide which equipment to acquire:
    • Cutsheet, toner, digital web, inkjet, 1/c or 4/c print engines
    • Finishing options and in-line or near-line binding and trimming to match demand
  • Printers provide a plan and price based on a cost model that utilizes equipment options, depreciation, labor, maintenance, consumables, overhead, productivity and margin.

Publishers want to reduce inventory/cost and expand sales by keeping titles in print.

Inputs for volume requirements

Volume requirements are based on several inputs. For example, out-of-print titles which are being ordered by customers, or titles that are due for reprint but for which the annual sell rate falls below a breakeven number for offset printing. Depending on the volume, a publisher could request a print-on-demand model (print only when an order is received) or a small inventory model (auto-replenishment model) for the titles.

The quantities for marketing materials such as bound galleys, advanced readers’ copies and catalogs can be determined based on historical purchases. These are added up by monthly and annual volume to determine aggregate book and page volume. The trend is moving toward digital in these examples, in large part because  the minimum print run for offset now is 1,000 to 2,000 depending on the printer and the printer’s equipment. By not over-printing, and printing on an as-needed basis, a publisher saves a lot of capital.

All-in pricing factors

A digital print price per page all in (paper, ink, engines, binding, packaging and delivery to publisher’s inventory) is common. This approach provides a consistent way to request pricing, but the data provided to printers must be accurate. All-in pricing makes life easy for the publisher, but it requires printers to know their cost structure very well, down to size of carton packs, frequency of shipments and ability to maximize full truckloads. Standardization of formats, paper and cartons are key issues because this improves productivity and reduces cost.

Sometimes, the per-page price applies only to text, and the cover is additional. There are always extras, and these include case binding, Wire-o binding, cover lamination, UV coating, prep corrections, direct ships and fifth color. Labor also factors in, because I’ve observed that if a printer is running only one shift, costs tend to be high.

In most cases, printers will be a one-stop shop for 4/c finished covers, 1/c and 4/c text, binding, paper, cartons, prep services and file archival. Publishers will push for a greater variety of stocks, bind styles, cover finishes and distribution capabilities. Some printers may not have all bind styles or the correct digital print engines for the publisher’s specific needs. If print vendors cannot provide the services inhouse, they can go to third-party vendors, but this is unusual and usually not cost effective.

There are enough digital print vendors for a publisher to find a good match in terms of product, quality, price and service.

Pile of books (1)

Successful agreements depend on more than price

Price per page is the obvious big driver, but other things like location, quality, service, experience, electronic communication, capacity and financial stability also are in play. Location is straightforward because it affects delivery times and costs. Quality varies machine to machine, so some time ago, we said digital print has to be offset substitutable in terms of durability, quality and price. This requirement involved significant changes by paper suppliers, and is also impacted by equipment and printer experience, which can be gauged by length of time in this part of the business. Service means the printer has the right capacity and understands the flow of materials and requirements to put finished products into inventory.

For example, at 1,000 orders a month and 50 to 100 books per order, a manual process is cost prohibitive as well as inefficient. The entire process must be automatic…

Electronic communication and automation are essential. Monthly digital print orders are very different from typical offset orders. For example, at 1,000 orders a month and 50 to 100 books per order, a manual process is cost prohibitive as well as inefficient. The entire process must be automatic—the inventory system sees the reorder point, sends the PO to the book printer, pulls the file from archive, queues it up, and off it goes. Insert hands, and the process becomes too slow, too expensive, and mistakes happen. Ultimately, consumer orders also need to be tied in so they flow directly to the printer. Communicating electronically requires a publisher and printer to use the necessary interfaces, and to be more closely aligned than ever before. This is not optional!

Capacity is not just what’s available on the floor but how much is actually open. A printer can’t help me if capacity is booked up. There can be monthly and annual spikes on both sides, so an average volume per month isn’t useful. Printing books isn’t like printing bank statements,  where you print the same quantity during the same week of every month.

Financial stability is important because it takes time to ramp up. A print agreement of two to three years is better than one year, but if new technology comes along, printers have to be prepared to step up.

We’re seeing larger book printers adopt inkjet because they want to print from one to one million. Inkjet also provides the option to customize and/or personalize some or all products.

We’re not asking for a lot of customization right now, but we may in the future. For example, our salespeople could give their buyers bound galleys with the buyers’ names on them along with a personal message.

The conversations take time

Given all that goes into a digital print agreement, I recommend a slow start-up. It takes time to work out the details. My advice for both publishers and printers is to be honest and up front and share information, including long-range marketing plans.

Meganews – a new magazine publishing model ?

Recently in Stockholm we launched perhaps the ultimate Print on Demand Publishing solution.  Meganews is a revolutionary new concept which brings magazines to consumers.

The Meganews concept

Artist's impression of Meganews in action

Artist’s impression of Meganews in action

Meganews is an unmanned newspaper vending machine with internet access that prints, in real-time, a copy of the magazine you have selected. You purchase your magazine ​​through screens on the kiosk and pay by credit card. It only takes two minutes from making your purchase until a freshly printed magazine drops down the hatch.

At launch, consumers can choose from over 200 magazines and journals.


The Meganews kiosk

The Meganews kiosk

The Swedish journalist and TV profile Lars Adaktusson, his brother Hans and their company Mega News Sweden came up with the idea. Behind the software, the card terminal and the screens is the technology consultant company Sweco.

The industry design company LA + B has designed the news stand.

Last but not least  Ricoh’s digital colour cutsheet technology provides the on-demand, high quality colour printing.

Benefits for Publishers

The solution reduces publishers’ costs for distribution and logistics. We expect that, by printing on demand at the consumer’s location, Publishers will save around 10% of their costs.

It is also more environmental friendly as it saves transportation. About 60 percent less emissions of fossil greenhouse gases are generated during the life cycle of a magazine printed in a Meganews kiosk compared to a magazine printed and distributed in the traditional way, according to a survey conducted by the research institute Innventia on behalf of Meganews Magazines. The reason for this is that 40 percent of the traditional journals never get sold, must be returned and goes directly to recycling.

Almost all Swedish publishers are on board, including Bonnier Tidskrifter, Aller Media, Albinson & Sjöberg, LRF Media, IDG, Talentum and Medströms.

All magazines are printed on demand. This also means that a much wider range of titles can be offered than in a normal manned kiosk – such as back issues.

Tommy Segelberg, Director Nordic Operations, Production Printing Business Group, Ricoh Sweden

Tommy Segelberg, Director Nordic Operations, Production Printing Business Group, Ricoh Sweden

How will  Meganews  be rolled out ?

The Meganews news stand in the Mood-gallerian Shopping Mall is the first. In the next six months, the kiosk will be tested in airports, hotels, hospitals, grocery stores and more malls among other places.

Ultimately we’d like Meganews to go global.   We expect that the launch in Mood-gallerian will be start of something revolutionary.


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