Inkjet Reaches Tipping Point for Book Printing

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | 1 Comment »

Two recent headlines from PrintWeek caught my attention:

“Quad/Graphics to buy 20 HP web presses to drive on-demand books strategy” (Jan 15, 2015)

 “Timsons digital wing enters voluntary liquidation” (Jan 12, 2015)

At first the headlines seemed conflicting – with HP doing really well selling digital presses to the book market and Timsons going out of business because they couldn’t sell their digital press to the same market. But when I read the Timsons article what really caught my attention was not that they couldn’t sell their digital press (with a Kodak Prosper Engine) rather it was the line that noted Timsons had stopped manufacturing their web offset presses about a year ago. Timsons web offset presses are the leading presses for one and two color book printing in the world.

So both stories actually lead to the same conclusion: inkjet has reached the tipping point for book printing.

Quad/Graphics is the second largest printer in North America and they announced their intention to reshape their book production operation by purchasing 20 HP web inkjet presses over the next three years. Joel Quadracci, chairman and chief executive of Quad/Graphics, said: “With this investment in digital presses and integrated systems we can support a broad industry transition to a print-on-demand, zero-inventory model. Our digital press solution will help redefine the entire book supply chain, giving publishers increased customization and versioning capabilities; faster time-to-market; reduced waste, inventories and obsolescence; and lower fixed costs. Accordingly, publishers will be able to focus more on content and have the ability to redeploy the capital previously tied up in inventory to other initiatives.”

Then Quad/Graphics followed up this announcement with another announcement signaling their intent to purchase Courier, one of the largest book printers in US and also a big HP web inkjet customer. RR Donnelley has subsequently made an offer for Courier as well, further validating their inkjet strategy.

The big players are going all in on inkjet, while the premier manufacturer of web offset presses for book production has gone into bankruptcy. (Note Timsons Engineering which makes parts and services Timsons presses is still in business.)  However, you can be sure Timsons presses will be printing books for many years to come as the presses are extremely durable and productive. And the Timsons zero make ready press is simply amazing.  But the future is clearly brighter for digital inkjet printing for books.

One Response to “Inkjet Reaches Tipping Point for Book Printing”

Comment from sarwar
Time September 21, 2015 at 8:43 am

Why Timsons have stopped in digital book printing? Please explain…Is this more cost of their machines?
Between HP and Kodak, which one will be competitive for book printing?

Write a comment