High-speed inkjet printing has been described as the biggest development in book publishing in the past 50 years. Inkjet printing allows for more and shorter production runs; savings on inventory, waste, and obsolescence costs; and it provides a means for printing niche books that otherwise wouldn't get produced. One company is leading this transformation with the tools needed to bring book production into the 21st century—Kodak.

Publishers' real-world needs are propelling this transformation with hurricane force. The market instability created by emerging new forms of digital media and content delivery paths, compounded by unprecedented competitive and margin pressures, has sounded the final bell for a business model that accepts return rates approaching 40% and routinely warehouses mountains of unsold copies as its primary method of inventory management.

As a book manufacturer, you know that your future success is inextricably tied to your ability to reduce your—and your publishing clients'—overall supply chain costs.

For that reason, the production model that makes the most sense is the one that unlocks the major opportunity of the industry's digital transformation: reducing overall costs by optimizing supply chain efficiency. This is the only variable that can make a game-changing difference to a publisher's bottom line, because retail and royalty costs, which today comprise 60% of publishers' total supply chain costs, are in effect fixed. Control this variable, and major new opportunities arise.

Speed Is Everything

Kodak's revolutionary continuous inkjet (CIJ) printing technology—Stream technology—was specifically designed to print books at the fastest rate possible. As the core technology behind the KODAK PROSPER Platform, KODAK Stream Inkjet Technology enables you to give publishers what they want at a cost you can afford.

The KODAK PROSPER 1000 Press prints monochrome output at an incredibly fast 650 feet/200 meters per minute, while the PROSPER 5000XL Press provides full-color output at the same rate, and the PROSPER 6000XL Press supports speeds up to 1,000 feet/305 meters per minute.

To give you a sense of the critical importance of speed, consider the experience of SOS Print + Media Group, a large-volume Australian producer: "We printed a trade book on one of our existing digital monochrome devices that prints at a maximum speed of 250 pages per minute. This print run took 32 hours. Running the same job on the KODAK PROSPER 1000 Press will take less than two hours." Or listen to Toshiro Masuda, Senior Managing Director, Toppan Forms Co., Ltd.: "Over the past several months, we've seen a tremendous increase in both jobs and volumes—spanning a number of applications—that are produced on the PROSPER 5000XL Press. Our existing presses have been running at full production, and the addition of a fourth PROSPER 5000XL Press will enable us to continue our path of steady growth and best serve our customers across multiple markets."

Speed also means that untold numbers of books, currently warehoused "just in case" orders arise, instead can now be printed just in time, in just the quantity ordered.

The number of available titles is mushrooming as new authors, many self-published, are entering the market. Previously out-of-print books can be brought back to life for another crack at a fresh audience. The highly profitable educational markets demand more and more customized, specialized print-on-demand books. Additionally, new categories of books, such as for specific reference or instructional uses, for niche subjects or dedicated hobbyists, or to meet local interests, are arising every day.

According to Interquest 2010, of the 13 billion books produced in 2010, 96% were produced on an offset press. But of that amount, 56% were for runs of less than 5,000, all of which would have been produced more efficiently on a digital inkjet press.

But this new market trend toward shorter run lengths has created a technology gap that's very costly. Offset is geared toward higher volumes, and toner-based printing (EP) is best at very short runs. Unfortunately, both technologies have reached their limits on what they can do: offset can't efficiently and profitably print shorter run lengths, and EP can't print higher runs efficiently.

Clearly, your digital platform must allow you to print orders at a break-even point that your business model can sustain.

The ideal production range for PROSPER Presses lies between 500 and 5,000 copies. Quantities from one to 500 can be produced efficiently if ganged with other titles of the same size that use the same paper.

Kodak's Stream Inkjet Technology actually enhances your offset profitability because it has a higher crossover point to offset than toner-based printers. In addition, with a PROSPER Image Optimizer Station (IOS) inline with the press, you can optimize paper directly on the press instead of having to use mill-treated paper, allowing you to print on standard offset paper, substantially slashing your paper costs compared to mill-treated papers.

On top of greatly reduced prepress and makeready time, you can add reduced finishing time and reduced waste in your finishing processes. A PROSPER Press–based production model can help eliminate bottlenecks in the finishing processes that get in the way of processing frequent, short orders profitably.

Automating this process can further cut your labor and paper waste costs, while freeing up floor space.

Give Publishers More by Giving Them Less

For book publishers, excess or dead inventory represents the biggest expense in the inventory management category of the supply chain. Options for reducing excess inventory range from unpleasant to worse: destroying the stock, remaindering, donating the books, or marking them down for sale. Each involves a hard hit to the P&L.

The best option is one that doesn't require any of those options because it eliminates excess inventory entirely: short-run high-speed digital printing. And the sweet spot for digital printing? As we mentioned earlier, it's exactly where PROSPER Press shines in the 500 to 5,000 press run.

The key to lowering the costs associated with excess inventory is to better manage and control the supply. Lower and more frequent print runs ultimately reduce or even eliminate excess inventory and their carrying costs. That is what Sagim had in mind when it became the first French printer to buy a PROSPER 1000 Press.

"We're very competitive, whether a customer wants 500 or 4,000 copies," says Sagim managing director Guillaume de Courcy. "The print market has changed. Nowadays, publishers prefer to order a shorter run to begin with, then order a reprint according to demand. Also, lead times have been cut significantly—we're often given only a week to produce an initial print run, and just a few days for a reprint. None of this is a problem with the KODAK PROSPER Press. It has opened many doors for us—in fact, we've increased orders by 20%."

Minimize Risk and Maximize Opportunity

An all-Kodak Digital Workflow that seamlessly integrates Kodak's PROSPER Platform into your existing offset production will help you adapt your operations to today's publishing model, allowing you to seize opportunities to profitably serve new markets and clients—immediately.

More importantly, it will significantly minimize your investment risk by keeping your options open and alternative business models possible as the industry's transformation proceeds and the ultimate picture becomes clear.

Working with PROSPER Press high-speed inkjet technology will give you more productivity, better quality, and improved cost points than EP, or toner-based, printing. You'll be able to load balance between your offset and digital equipment to maximize production, which will help you produce books more quickly and at the lowest cost. You'll also be able to upgrade your press as your business requirements change.

For the near term, we know offset printing will continue to predominate as the primary book production method. That's why the optimal production model seamlessly integrates KODAK PROSPER Presses, already churning out millions of digitally printed books around the world, without diminishing current capital investment in offset presses, and at the same time creating new revenue opportunities with digital print solutions that enable content customization. This blended production environment helps you meet today's needs while positioning your business for the book production model of the future.

The digital print market is booming because publishers are placing shorter, more frequent orders—not an ideal situation for your offset environment. But what if you could break away from the constraints of your offset model and be seen as a go-to digital printer in your market?

If you could adapt your operations to today's dynamic publishing model, would you be better positioned to sustain and grow revenue?

If you could produce books more profitably, would you be able to reduce costs?

If you could get the most output from your offset and digital assets, could you manage the risk of your business transformation?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the KODAK PROSPER Platform is the right fit for you. We can help you assess your business and design a scalable solution that will help you grow in the years ahead.?