Pick up a good novel … quick
The future of book selling may look like present-day video rental stores, with only a few sample books on the shelves. Take the book up to the counter — like the empty box at some video stores — and the book will be printed, bound and handed over, all in a few seconds.
Digital printing has the potential to benefit every aspect of the publishing industry. Books are stored electronically and printed on demand, looking virtually the same as offset printed volumes. Publishers will be able to print books as demand arises, rather than gambling on amounts that may not sell. Printing and distribution costs should be lower, with no capital tied up in inventory that isn’t moving. Books won’t end up being out of stock, and orders will be filled in one day. Booksellers will be able to purchase books in the quantity needed, from one or two to thousands. Authors will be able to get into print faster and easier, since there will be less financial investment on the part of the publisher taking on a new writer, and no writer’s work should ever go out of print. The environment will benefit as well, from leaving behind traditional printing methods and from the lack of remaindered books needing to be recycled.
Pick up a good art book … quick
Whereas the digital print on-demand technology would spit out a black-and-white novel in record time, when it comes to full four-color printing, the latest news is the Agfa Chromapress. Described in its most simplistic terms, the Chromapress applies pigment to paper the same way a laser printer does, only faster and with a much higher quality. And it’s environmentally friendly. Unlike traditional printing, the process does not involve toxic wastes from film and printing plates, but sends the images directly from layout software files. The toner used in the process is so non-toxic, representatives have been known to eat a spoonful at conferences, simply to prove their point.
This digital printing system is speeding up the process as well. Whereas turn around time for traditional printing is five to seven days, with the Chromapress the file can be sent to the printer and the project turned around in one day, provided there are no glitches and the material is 100 percent ready for the printer.
Typically, any material to be printed by the Chromapress is digitally prepared, converted to PostScript, electronically imposed, and sent to the hard disk connected with the digital printing press. From there the Chromapress can print the document or send it to any Chromapress on the globe using high-speed telecommunications lines. At present there are only 250 of these digital printers worldwide, 40 in the U.S., one of which is located in Reno.
Another plus for the Chromapress is the cost of producing print runs. Unlike traditional printing, where quantities must go up for costs to go down, digital printing is cost effective even when printing just a few copies. And if more are needed at a later date, identical color-matched reprints can be ordered from the original electronic files— again at a fraction of the cost of ordering traditional reprints. Consequently, clients will be able to place orders to fulfill their immediate needs and not be faced with destroying outdated or unsold inventory.