The Benefits of Digital Book Publishing
Digital book publishing offers a variety of benefits to authors, publishers, and print service providers.
Part 1 of 4
By Kim Crowley
The popularity of digital book publishing is attributable to the technology’s ability to produce cost-effective, short run books without the need for a publisher or warehouse.
The volume of books printed digitally is still low compared to offset. However, the difference is expected to change greatly. "Currently only two to three percent of books published are digitally produced and the remaining percentage is still printed in offset," notes Brian Moroney, manager, print on demand (POD) strategy and market development, InfoPrint Solutions Company.
Aditya Dwivedi, senior marketing manager, Xeikon, a Punch Graphix brand, notes that POD technology allows for the production of smaller quantities, frequent updates, multiple versions, and personalization. "Those characteristics make offset technology uneconomical and unfeasible for POD production."
With the technology touting such attrative benefits, digital books continue to gain traction in every segment of the publishing market. "It used to be that only back-list titles—the so-called ‘long tail’ books—and short run vanity books were produced digitally. Today the cross-over line between digital and offset is much higher, making more projects eligible for digital production," says Mark Hunt, director of marketing, Standard Finishing Systems.
Andrew J. Fetherman, manager, OnDemand Solutions Division, Muller Martini Corp. notes that as printing technology becomes wider and faster, book manufacturers will have the ability to digitally produce larger lot sizes, further penetrating the offset production model. "Up until just recently, digitally book manufacturing was considered only a complimentary technology producing a very small percentage of the books in circulation."
Photo books and textbooks represent several of the strongest growth areas for digital book publishing, notes Paula Balik, director, worldwide marketing communications, Eastman Kodak Company. "Academic publishers of college and university textbooks want high-quality printing for very low quantities determined based on class enrollment sizes. Additionally, universities also publish student books using Web-to-print mode to facilitate easy access."
Bob Elliott, future products manager, professional lamination equipment, GBC/ACCO Brands, agrees that digital print technologies are used to produce everything from cookbooks to photo journals, and doesn’t see it ending there. "The educational market is expanding greatly into digital printing due to the cost of producing an entire book when the student will only need a few chapters for the course."
It is clear that digital book publishing is a growing segment of print. Photo books and self-titled books are just one advantage of the technology. With savvy Internet users and the popular desire to see your words in print, digital book publishing is poised to take off. This week we covered some of the benefits, next week we’ll further investigate why digital book publishing continues to grow in part two of our four-part series on digital book publishing. Be sure to look for our March/April print edition, which features a full-length article on digital book finishing.
Feb2009, DPS magazine