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Ingram Enters On-Demand Field With Lightning Print Inc.
Jim Milliot -- 11/10/97
The newest entrant into the fledgling on-demand book business is Ingram Book Company, which last week announced the formation of Lightning Print Inc. In creating the new division, Ingram has partnered with IBM, which will provide the on-demand technology, and Danka Services International, whose personnel will operate the process from Ingram's Nashville headquarters.Under the Lightning Print model, publishers will supply Ingram with either a digital copy of a particular book or a print edition that Lightning will scan into its library. Larry Brewster, Ingram v-p and general manager for Lightning, said publishers will be charged a moderate setup fee and a minimal annual maintenance fee.
Brewster told PW that the Lightning operation is not being limited to out-of-print books, but to any book that has limited demand. He explained that if an academic publisher was thinking about doing a scholarly book that would have a small run, rather than go through the expense of printing the title, the publisher could give a digital copy to Ingram, which would print a copy of the book only when an order was received.

Brewster said that publishers will be responsible for promoting the on-demand titles and will also be responsible for pricing and discount schedule issues. "We're not going to be a publisher," Brewster told PW. Once an order is received, Lightning will print the content of the book and merge it with both black-and-white and full-color covers that will also be printed on demand. According to Brewster, the "'one off' technology enables us to print and bind a 400-plus page book in just seconds." Once the title is shipped to the retailer, Lightning will remit a payment to the publisher, which will be responsible for paying any royalties that are due. Brewster noted that Lightning Print will provide only printing and distribution services for publishers, and that there will never be a transfer of rights. The company will also not promote single titles, although it may promote the service.

The pilot program for Lightning is set to begin in the first quarter of 1998. Brewster plans to include large, medium and small publishers in the pilot, as well as companies from different fields, including trade, religious, professional and academic publishers. Brewster envisions signing 20 to 25 publishers to participate in the program, supplying Lightning with about 20 titles each. The pilot phase is likely to last three to six months, after which Brewster hopes to roll out the program to the entire industry.
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