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Archives > "Print-on-Demand" book sales & services - What does it mean for us?

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message 1: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda We've talked about digital 'Print-on-Demand' book services elsewhere in our discussion threads but it's a big change in the Aussie publishing industry and it's worth it's own discussion.

Lightning Source is opening a full-scale POD (Print on Demand) business in Australia in June 2011. This has nany benefits for retailers, consumers and publishers (in particular the self-publishers).

Books will no longer be 'out-of-print'. Shipping costs need no longer be factored into book prices in Australia. Books you order from your local bookstore should arrive more quickly. Older titles will be more available. Printing small runs of a specific novel becomes more economically feasible for publishers/self-publishers.

Reportedly the technology of 'digitally printed books' (the POD system) has improved so much that consumers won't be able to tell the difference from an 'offset printed book' (current books that you buy in bookshops). I'm not sure what this will mean for other printing companies in Australia which I believe still use the 'offset printing method'.

message 2: by Mandapanda (last edited Feb 17, 2011 01:41PM) (new)

Mandapanda Not yet in Australia but on it's way is the fantastic Expresso Book Machine!

"Self publishers can print their latest manuscripts at the corner bookstore, classical books are now available for purchase on demand at libraries, cruise-goers can leave their books at home and print reading materials on the ship. All of this is possible with the Espresso Book Machine®, A Xerox Solution. Available for installation starting today, U.S. bookstores, libraries, universities and other retail outlets can purchase or lease the Espresso Book Machine. The print on demand device can produce a book in minutes.

The Espresso Book Machine gives businesses new ways to drive revenue and serves readers hungry for content on demand. The machine is powered by the Xerox 4112® Copier/Printer, which can quickly print, bind and trim bookstore-quality paperbacks with color covers.

Developed by On-Demand Books, the print-at-retail model includes the EspressNet™ software system, which connects the machine to a vast repository of content, allowing consumers to print millions of copyrighted, public-domain and self-published books on demand."


So in the future are we just going to walk into our local bookstore, put a $10 note into the 'Expresso Machine', select any title we want and wait for it to be printed within minutes right before our eyes?? It's truly amazing technology!

message 3: by Khenan (new)

Khenan Bragador | 140 comments Wow that would really be amazing. Though i love the smell and feel of old books + the hunt of finding the book you're looking for!

still, imagine having one for your personal use....*drools* :P

message 4: by Laura (last edited Feb 17, 2011 03:37PM) (new)

Laura | 4298 comments Dang! In a previous job I did this type of job that this printer will instantly do.

Setting books up for offset printers can be a bit of a task since you've gotta know how the printer you use works, using plates,film,etc. I could see this actually being a bit of a 'blow' for smaller print houses.

I can also see the merit behind it. If you've been wanting to find a book for ages then this might be the place to go too.

message 5: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda Laura wrote: "Dang! In a previous job I did this type of job that this printer will instantly do.

Setting books up for offset printers can be a bit of a task since you've gotta know how the printer you use work..."

It's interesting that you used to work in a printing house Laura. I wasn't really sure how this would affect the printers in Australia or whether they had access to the kind of digital printing that allows for this quick and efficient printing service. I don't even know really what offset printing is. I just have this picture of an old time printing press where some lackey had to position all the little metal letters so they could be inked up and the pages pressed over them!:)

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Psst Laura, Mandy still uses an abacus to do her arithmatic.

message 7: by Mandapanda (last edited Feb 17, 2011 04:53PM) (new)

Mandapanda Hush Gail!! ;)

Antique Printing Press!

message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura | 4298 comments Hehehehe XD

Yeah, I worked at a small printer place with a HUGE offset printer. The thing was massive and very smelly at times. And also rather old because we had to send all the design work from the Macs to Film and then to plate which the offset printer used. I've heard there is less need for using film cutting down costs and time. I've also read there is a way of getting rid of plates as well, again another cost saver. But to implerment these machines are probably very expensive especially if you've already got a huge set up.

There are a lot of design houses that do all their printing in house with big digital printers to save on costs/time. And heck some of these digital printers can produce amazing quality!

Granted some-one is going to need to do the layouts for this new book printer, so it won't lessen work for a designer. But for people who work as a print mechanic (i think that's their name) it could really hurt them because more people will opt for the cheaper/quicker way. This printer will do exactly that.

Then you've gotta take into account the people who do the trimming of the books/catalogs/calanders as well. And like at my old job we had people who did that job as well. It was rather a big production just to produce print material no matter what it was.

Hehehe, I am now sorta rambling *eats soup*

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

alphabet soup?

message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura | 4298 comments lol maybe!

message 11: by Mandapanda (new)

Mandapanda Gail "cyborg" wrote: "alphabet soup?"

*laughs* You are so clever Gail!

message 12: by Jacqueline (last edited Feb 17, 2011 06:11PM) (new)

Jacqueline George (jacquelinegeorge) Sorry to rain on your parade, but the economics of the Espresso book machine just don't work for regular books. Central Book Services in Melbourne have one operating and their feeling is that it can only make a return on normal-sized books that sell for +$45. Regular paper back production is out of the question.

A couple of years ago, I believe Angus & Robertson were thinking of installing up to 40 machines nation-wide. I guess that did not work.

We have yet to see what an operation on the scale of Lightning Source will bring to the market in Oz. Or even if there will be a market in Oz for hard copy books. I am certainly investigating them for the production of my next title, and we will see...

message 13: by Andrea (last edited Feb 17, 2011 06:20PM) (new)

Andrea (andreakhost) Here's a recent article from Teleread about using the Espresso:

Central Book Services might feel it doesn't work for regular books, but that's obviously not the view of everyone.

As for Lightning Press - good to hear. More local printing options please me.

message 14: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline George (jacquelinegeorge) I doesn't work for CBS because they take 70% of the RRP for distribution/sales and have to pay the publisher and machine costs including depreciation out of the remaining 30% i.e. $9 on a $30 book. They are absolutely unbending about needing 70%, because they say the booksellers are increasingly demanding 47.5%, up from the previous 40%.

Aren't these numbers and percentages ridiculous? No wonder our RRPs are double what they are in the States. If something doesn't happen soon, our book shops could start closing. Oops - they already have.

message 15: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (andreakhost) I loathe the "special Australian price tag" which gets slapped on somewhere between overseas and here. It seems to be a combination of the larger distributors (rather than the local stores) and Australia's protectionist parallel import laws and I rather fear that nothing's going to change until a whole bunch of perfectly good local retailers go belly-up.

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