August 19, 2014 ABCOtoGO staff

Printing methods: which is better for you?

There have been great advances in digital printing and print-on-demand technologies over the last decade. The manufacturers of high-volume digital presses have made huge improvements in print quality, formats, speed, and workflow. Monochrome text printing solutions have evolved to support both monochrome and color book printing and have the ability to customize and personalize all with the speed and quality required by publishers and customers. These developments have changed how publishers assess the life cycle of a book, and they come at a good time. Digital printing was only used “for extending the life of a title in the long tail, now titles are candidates for digital print at almost every stage after the initial lay down. If a bookstore’s initial stocking order is short, additional copies can be produced quickly to meet demand. Because the content setup and transaction costs for digital printing are very low, print costs at every stage of a book’s life cycle are economical.

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We are seeing both toner and ink-jet technologies utilized in various segment and product combinations, such as memory books, self-publishing, and rapid replenishment during inventory stock outs. To operate most efficiently, POD and print-to-order content and order management should be fully automated. In such a system, publishers, retailers, and distributors receive and process orders that are then passed directly to the printing systems. Turnaround times range from one to four days when all the workflows are in place. When a customer orders several titles from a publisher or distributor, but sales forecasts for some of the titles are unavailable, SRDP can reduce the risks of overstocking. Printers often have good Web interfaces, allowing orders to be placed online if an automated interface isn’t in place. Turnaround times on these orders are typically five to 10 days. With the advances in both color toner and ink-jet printing, titles can be produced whose quality is comparable to that of the original editions, which were made using offset printing. A key reason digital printing is now in the manufacturing mix is that current digital printing platforms have greatly flattened the cost curve across order quantities, and publishers that consider the total cost of ownership are rapidly taking advantage of these technologies. A new paradigm is emerging in which, rather than relying on large print runs, publishers order fewer copies of each title and then replenish their inventory more frequently, without increasing their expenses, thereby reducing inventory risks and conserving cash. And because of automated workflows, smaller publishers and distributors that don’t have large IT infrastructures can take full advantage of digital printing. Placing an order might not be automated, but much of today’s printing is.

All printing process are concerned with two kinds of areas on the final output:

1. Image Area (printing areas)

2. Non-image Area (non-printing areas)

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