Print-on-demand is not a new capability. In fact, publishers have been benefiting from POD for decades. “However, it’s typically been used for managing lower print volume requirements,” says Paul Randall, product marketing manager at HP Publishing Solutions. “But now the industry needs to address other challenges around the sustainability of its supply chains, as well as its ability to react quickly and with agility to changing market dynamics.”
As the publishing industry continues to cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, many publishers are finding that their supply chains are no longer sustainable. That’s where HP Publishing Solutions can help, with its global print partner network that offers publishers a better way to do business.
The adaptability of traditional publishing supply chains has long been an issue. Though these supply chains work for many publishers’ frontlists—particularly for bestselling titles—there are still problems with managing fluctuating demand levels and ensuring resilience when the chain is stressed. Put simply: disasters of all sorts can delay or derail publishing supply chains. “When Covid-19 hit, publishers had issues in getting their content printed because of their reliance on a chain of very few suppliers,” Randall says, noting that the limited scale of suppliers resulted in a tremendous amount of delay with shipping inventory to the desired locations. “Even more recently,” he says, “with the Suez Canal blockage, publishers have found their supply chains disrupted by shipments unable to reach their end destinations on time.”
There is currently a dire need for a more resilient publishing supply chain capable of offering global distribution, with consistency and quality—and one that reduces book miles to boost environmental sustainability. “As the publishing industry becomes increasingly aware of how and where the books are printed, the benefits of POD technology can become even more powerful,” Randall says. “Publishers can—and should—now be considering print strategies that can be more environmentally responsible while still being built to meet market demand.”
HP Book as a Service offers publishers access to a global print partner network, ensuring books can be printed where and when needed. This can create a global supply chain that is agile, resilient, and guarantees print quality and consistency across the globe. Publishers can now reach new markets and extend their catalogues while benefiting from quicker timelines, less waste, and a reduced environmental impact.
“For some trade publishers, up to half of all titles published never require a second printing,” Randall says. “That means that 50% of books end up with unsold inventory, and publishers are paying rent to store unsold inventory.” That creates an incredible amount of overhead and waste, as unsold inventory utilizes significant amounts of raw materials in production and warehousing, resulting in a substantial environmental impact. Or as Randall says, “The total cost of ownership of a single book is more than just the production cost per unit.”
Using HP’s solution, publishers can better align their costs with the sales they generate. If there is no sale, then book-printing costs can be avoided entirely. “And all of this can be centrally managed and delivered,” Randall says, “through a single platform that streamlines operations and accounting.”
“HP’s digital print technology has been delivering agility and speed for publishers for many years already,” Randall says. “We estimate that around half of the POD market across the U.S. and Europe is currently produced on HP technology with print service providers in multiple countries around the world.” With this new Book as a Service offering, HP is enabling publishers to truly utilize a global POD capability that is centralized in one unified platform. It’s this sort of automation and streamlining that has continued to drive and promote efficiency for publishers during a pivotal moment of change in the industry.