Printing of books in 2017; The shift against. Digital dilemma – Covering printing inks, coatings and related industries


According to InfoTrends, books are one of the fastest growing applications moving from offset to digital.


The world of printing is changing rapidly. Recent advances in the digital realm create multiple opportunities for authors, publishers and printers. Still, not everyone is keen on embracing digital printing technology, with some preferring to stick with offset and others choosing the middle ground. Are you, too, torn by the offset versus digital dilemma? Let’s settle this once and for all.

Offset printing, of course, requires new plates for each job and therefore has a higher initial cost than digital. However, once the offset press is up and running, the actual cost of applying ink to paper becomes less than that of a digital press. With unit cost decreasing as print run increases, publishers must order printed books in bulk to keep an offset printing project profitable. Needless to say, offset printing technology comes with a significant risk of unsold stock. That’s why more and more publishers are opting for print-on-demand (POD); an inherently digital printing technology.

Did you know? According to InfoTrends, books are one of the fastest growing applications moving from offset to digital. The institute expects as many as 22.7 billion book pages to be printed digitally by 2019.

Requiring no plate, digital printing has a much lower setup cost than offset. This, coupled with the speed of the digital printing process, allows publishing agencies and self-publishers to cost-effectively print books on demand instead of having to forecast demand and overrun risks. . While most books today are still printed in offset, digital printing is undeniably disrupting the publishing industry in many ways right now.

No longer needing to order in bulk to stay profitable, publishers moving to print-on-demand are increasingly moving to a zero inventory model. Some are even removing warehouses from their supply chain altogether and expanding overseas sales by adopting a print and distribute model, outsourcing to overseas print partners in the region where the demand is occurring. .

POD also opens the doors to a new kind of revenue stream, including reviving out-of-print titles (which are too expensive to print in bulk but can still count on a small, loyal audience). Additionally, the fast-paced nature of digital printing allows publishers to react immediately to sudden increases in demand, such as when an author dies or hits the headlines.

Despite the growing popularity of digital, many publishers still prefer offset as they believe the quality of prints outweighs the cost. This is because offset offers higher quality ink options and optimal resolution alongside a wider range of paper weights and unusual cut sizes. However, for most self-published and standard black-and-white printed books, digital printing is more than enough and is almost indistinguishable from offset printing.

Additionally, significant progress has been made in the digital realm, and printers continue to invest in faster, higher quality digital printing presses like Xeikon’s book production suites. Although offset is still more profitable in most book categories for now, a Xeikon suite is the ideal digital printing solution for color books that traditionally offer higher profit margins, such as editions of luxury and fine books on high-level visual subjects such as architecture. , fashion and art. The suite produces four-color prints that match offset quality and is compatible with substrates up to 350 gsm, with no length restrictions.

Digital technology is changing the book printing industry on many fronts. By 2020, Smithers Pira predicts that 13.7% of all books will be printed digitally. Smithers Pira is confident that this percentage will account for nearly half of the overall book market revenue, as digital enables books to be printed on demand and as a result almost all digitally printed books are sold.


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