Does the industry need greater education in the overall cost savings of moving to a digital print supply model?

This was certainly a hot subject at last month’s Ricoh Publishing Executive’s Symposium where book manufactures and publishers gathered to discuss latest advancements in digital printing technology. Interestingly there seems to be more recognition of how digital can drive better profits for publishers as its advancements (print to order, print to market) have enabled new stock logistics models to form. The full write up is covered in a great article by Ellen Harvey in BookBusiness and can be read in full at www.bookbusinessmag.com. It really is worth reading if you are a digital devotee or considering moving to this print and logistics model.

I was particularly interested in the articles from Wiley and Penguin Random House as these themes were in part covered on our own The Bookseller webinar in February 2016 where we discussed, with The History Press and F&W Media, how digital printing advancements have given rise to new virtual stock models in the supply chain. The webinar explored how the virtual stock model (POD) now sits alongside the more traditional stock model and is only possible due to the advancement of digital presses, technology and papers. At the Ricoh Publishing Executive’s Symposium both Michael DeFazio, VP paper purchasing & production planning at Penguin Random House, and Kurt Scherwatzky, Director, Production Services Procurement, John Wiley & Sons, both covered some pain points for publishers in migrating to the digital model.  Scherwatzky felt one of the pain points was very much internally as publishing can be focussed on the unit cost rather than looking at the entire cost of inventory management of the life-cycle of the publication. Over-printing, warehousing and depreciation are avoidable costs in the digital model. As publishers move to a short run, virtual stock (POD) and auto-stock model it allows for more distributive print, printing close to the market and printing only what you need when you need it. Of course distributive print has its own challenges with returns, multiple print vendor management and consistent quality but the fact that this model exists is only through the advancement of digital print technology.

I do like the comment by DeFazio, when asked to look into the crystal ball at the digital future, that digital is just part of the logistics process, nothing new and just business as normal. Certainly, a lot of publishers and digital printers would fully agree with that remark.