More than 21,000 printers and publishers attended the eighth annual On Demand trade show and conference held in New York City last month, and for the first time in several years, the main story was not new technology. Instead, the show, sponsored by CAP Ventures and Advanstar Communications, concentrated on ways to adapt the industry and its business practices to the new machines and to the Internet.

In introducing the keynote speakers, CAPV founder Charles A. Pesko noted, "Five years ago, many commercial printers would not even consider offering digital printing. Today, when asked what single service they would add in the next two years, 48% of the printers in a recent NAPL [National Asociation of Printers and Lithographers'] study answered 'digital printing.' "

Xerox Corp. also surveyed attendees on their acceptance of digital processes, with similar results. Nearly 70% of respondents said they were using the Internet to conduct business, mainly for communicating with customers, but also 41% of respondents use the Net for online proofing, 49% for customer job tracking and 37% for customer file storage. Perhaps most surprising of all, 41% of respondents said they foresee a time when more than half their revenue will come from non-printing services, such as database management. When then-CEO of R.R.Donnelley John Walter made the same statement at the beginning of the last decade, it was seen as visionary to the point of outlandishness.

One bit of new technology that attracted attention was GP2 Technologies Inc.'s ultra-small and easy casemaking machine for making hardcover books one at a time. V-p of sales and marketing Ted Greene described the rationale behind the binder. "For POD to make it in books, the binding system has to be easy to run, reliable and affordable," he said. "With our casing-in machine, one person can bind five books a minute, in different sizes, mixing library bindings with standard covers, and switch the binding types by pushing one button." The machine, which stands about 5 feet tall, has a footprint of about 5'×3', and costs $79,000, can bind books from 3"×5" up to 10"×12" in. "It could be just the thing for the large bookstore or small warehouse wanting to offer POD services," Greene said.