Ingram has signed a long-term agreement with Cambridge University Press that will give Ingram management responsibility for CUP’s North American warehousing and fulfillment functions. Beginning June 1, Ingram will handle all warehousing and fulfillment for all 45,000 titles in the CUP catalogue, CUP chief operating officer Peter Miller said. CUP is in the process of moving the physical inventory from its West Nyack, N.Y. facility to Ingram’s warehouse in Tennessee. CUP will continue to provide order processing and customer service from West Nyack although at some point Miller said CUP will move those functions to another location and sell the building.

A key factor in the Ingram deal has been improvements in the efficiency of short-run digital printers, Miller said. Three years ago, CUP would use short run printing to do about 50 copies, but that threshold has now moved up to about 500 copies and those runs are being done by Ingram’s Lightning Source division. “The trend is clearly moving from long-run offset printing to short runs and digital distribution,” Miller said. Shipments of larger offset print runs will be split between shipments directly to customers and shipments to Ingram.

While CUP’s business has increased, units sent from its warehouse have fallen substantially in the last two to three years, Miller said, and the Ingram deal will let CUP remove a fixed cost from its books. Although Miller wouldn’t comment on how much money CUP will save annually with the new arrangement he said improvements in technology will let CUP get to break even on the conversion quickly.

Last year, CUP signed an agreement with DHL for that company to take over the publisher’s European fulfillment operations and began shipping titles from DHL’s warehouse January 4. That experience makes Miller hopeful that transition in North America will be a relatively smooth one.