Digital Book Printing Offers Revenue Opportunity as e-Reader Sales Slow

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Despite the advent of electronic book readers (otherwise known as e-readers) that are mobile, electronic devices designed for reading books and periodicals, there’s some evidence that e-book sales may be softening.

Indeed, last year, the Publishers Association made news when it reported that sales of e-readers (such as Amazon’s Kindle) were down 17 percent in the United Kingdom in 2016, while sales of printed books and journals went up by 7 percent over the same period, and sales of printed children’s books were up 16 percent.

In the United States, the Association of American Publishers reported that e-reader sales declined 18.7 percent over the first nine months of 2016, with paperback sales up 7.5 percent over the same period, and hardback sales up 4.1 percent.

This interesting survey from OmniPress, as well as other surveys, also showed that 50-percent of millennials, despite growing up with tech and digital, actually prefer using printed materials versus digital when consuming material they need to learn. There is also evidence that reading material on a printed page may result in greater comprehension and memory retention.

Xerox recently discussed in a blog post that printed-book publishing, fueled by the growth of affordable, high-speed color-inkjet digital printing (versus traditional offset printing) represents a promising growth opportunity for commercial printers.

According to vendors such as Xerox, digital printing versus traditional offset printing is said to offer a unique opportunity for renewed demand for printed versus electronic book, as digital printing – versus analog and offset – provides economical short runs, faster time to market, and lower costs, “revolutionizing the entire book publishing supply chain,” and has overcome limitations of image quality, speed, flexibility, and affordability.

This year, 10 percent of all books will be digitally printed, and digitally printed books will have a 12.3 compound annual growth rate (CARG) from 2014 to 2019.

Why Digital Versus Traditional Analog/Offset Printing?

The key advantage of digital versus printing is that offset presses require operators to change plates, which is a time-consuming process.

The result is that because digital printers don’t require plate changes, they can provide faster turnaround times, lower costs, shorter runs printed on demand, more automation, and enable operators to easily modify images and messages with each impression by using variable data.

Digital Printing Ideal for Personalization

Because they’re so suitable for short print runs, digital printers are ideal for personalized photo publishing, such as memory books and custom keepsakes, which is a lucrative market in itself.

Xerox notes that other applications can be greatly enhanced with personalization and relevancy. Adding personalization to direct marketing materials, catalogs, transactional bills and statements — even cartons and packaging — can draw attention. Digital printers are also ideally suited for merging variable data printing (VDP) into content.

Print Quality on Par with Offset Printing

Xerox also notes that digital production printing has been quickly evolving, and output quality is improving continuously with new digital printers.

The company’s digital printers include sheet-fed production printers and cut-sheet digital presses, said to be ideal for print providers’ high-speed, high-volume printing applications, as well as production inkjet and continuous feed printers that include roll-fed, roll-to-roll, cut-sheet, and toner-based solutions, and span a variety of print speeds, ink sets, image quality, feeding, document finishing, and media options, with modular configurations available. For more information on Xerox’s production-printing portfolio, visit the firm here.

Key Stats and Opportunities

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