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Old 01-15-2020, 12:08 PM   #1
fjtorres
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The immediate future of print

A side effect of the changes in publishing stemming from the online and/or digital disruption is that the print world is evolving. Consolidating, shrinking.

From their side, here are some of their near term issues:

https://www.bookbusinessmag.com/post...k-value-chain/

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Here I will offer five areas of strategic impact that both publishers and printers need to look at and plan to work with or change their operational models to accommodate.
  1. The retail distribution model is already changing in a dramatic fashion. Brick and mortar is in decline, especially in the big box store model. We see this in trade with Barnes and Noble as well as education with the college book store models. Amazon continues to grow its presence in both trade and higher education. Publishers and printers both need to be planning for the possibility that big box book brick and mortar might fail. How will publishers replace those sales and the bandwidth of all that shelf space? How will printers plan for the reduction in print demand when all the books sitting in stores and warehouses come back to the publishers through the return channel?
  2. Paper continues to be an issue and it is not going to go away. There is no new domestic capacity coming online for uncoated book free sheet or groundwood for the mono books. Coated graphic arts papers of all grades are in short supply for the same reasons. Mills are closing or switching capacity to more profitable and easier to manufacture packaging grades. Publishers can solve part of this problem by reducing waste and number of books they hold in the warehouse, BUT, this would require them to fully embrace and inventory a management model that utilizes what production inkjet can offer.
  3. As publishers work toward reducing turnaround times with tighter SLA's, the printers will need a distribution system that can move product quickly and effectively. The primary method for moving books is by truck. There is a critical shortage of over-the-road truck drivers in the U.S. and the shortage is growing as baby boomers leave the workforce and trucking companies struggle to attract good candidates into the jobs. How will publishers plan for this emerging problem? The platform is out there for a more fully distributed print solution but this will require some significant innovation on the part of both publishers and printers. Next day delivery of books in specific geographies produced within those geographies is an executable strategy today for markets in the East, Midwest, and parts of the Southeast. It can be done for both mono and color. The logistics of this solution are complex, but if we continue to lose capacity in the over-the-road truck fleets, will this become a reality and a significant issue during peak times of the year, such as what happened in the Q4 timeframe this past year?
  4. Offset print plants require skilled craftsman to run one and four color offset presses, as well as high speed soft cover and case binding lines. There is a significant amount of labor required in a medium size and large book plant, especially in the bindery. Many of the markets where these book plants exist today have a shortage of the skills and labor required for these plants to run at full capacity. This is an ongoing issue, which was experienced by many mainstream book printers this past year and will continue as the talent pool who used to fill these jobs find better paying and less demanding jobs. This issue has a compounding effect. It creates capacity shortages caused not by lack of equipment, but rather by the inability to utilize all the theoretically available time on that equipment for lack of operators. This then reduces the potential ROI on those expensive investments in web presses and new and more automated binding lines.
  5. Book manufacturing is in the wrong place. To be a little more direct, the majority of the population growth in the U.S. is in the Southeast, Texas, Nashville area, or in the Northwest. With the exception of Nashville, there are no significant book manufacturing plants in the geographies where populations and jobs are growing. If we know that there is already an issue with over-the-road trucking, printers having to deliver on tighter and tighter SLA's, and publishers needing to embrace inventory management models to deal with the supply chain realities of the book value chain, when are we going to see book plants in geographies where the customers are going? In every instance, Amazon is already there and we know they have been studying the book manufacturing model for a couple of years. Experience by now has taught us that if Amazon has to solve this on their own, the existing value chain is not going to like the outcome.
.
All 5 of these points are important strategic issues. I have not seen a single webinar or conference agenda focused on any of these issues since the first of the year. In the past few weeks, I have listened to webinars on State of the Book Business that did not address a single strategic issue facing the book business. Looking backwards through a foggy mirror is a tough way to move forward. I also heard a webinar where a 40+ year well-respected veteran was the featured speaker. Here I thought we would get some excellent forward-looking insights. But no, once again tough strategic issues were not brought forward from the moderator. In fact, the moderator spent more time talking and running endless commercials for the webinar sponsor than the featured speaker was allocated to answer the tame questions.

My point here is this. We have some really tough issues facing the book business and the structure of the future book value chain. This is a very conservative industry and the nature and past behavior of the industry as a whole would suggest that movement and change will not take place until crisis is upon us.
More at the source.

Just as changes in digital impact print, changes in the print world impact digital. Especially tradpub digital which huns in lockstep with print.

Addendum:

Quote:

In higher education, the print decline continues in what many are experiencing as a double-digit rate. The issues for this segment are more dire than K-12. Here the publishers are dealing with a complete repudiation of their product model because of pricing issues by a significant number of their primary adopters, the professors and universities. This is a segment whose current business model may be stuck in a doom loop and, again, here we see four-color printing as one of the area's of manufacturing that will feel the decline, which is why you may see some significant capacity rationalization in the four-color area from all the merger and acquisition activity among printers in the past 12 months.

Last edited by fjtorres; 01-15-2020 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:29 PM   #2
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In higher education... Here the publishers are dealing with a complete repudiation of their product model because of pricing issues by a significant number of their primary adopters, the professors and universities.
It's about time!
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:51 PM   #3
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Some of the above article is clueless.

It's true that traditional publishers are nuts when it comes to distribution, inventory and POD (but inkjet? !!!!).

It's true that Amazon totally dominates online for paper and ebook and audio. Largely because the Big publishers are more interested in taking over each other and preserving existing systems than customers, authors, POD and direct distribution to physical retail.
It's impossible to be notified, as a bookseller, if a book goes out of print when it's available. Also it's like as if POD doesn't exist.

Textbooks is a whole separate issue and varies between Primary / Secondary / Third level and Country. The Education use of electronic only Textbooks (esp schools) is dominated by the Apple iPad, a device that's essentially a walled garden and x2 overpriced with insufficient battery life. It's mandatory in some Irish Secondary schools and some UK Primary schools. That's wrong and as much the fault of publishers as Apple's dishonest education market selling (started with Apple II in late 1970s).

The article is poor.

Also in the fiction area, the Big 5 are totally inept at picking new authors. Less than half make the advance (which is much lower in real terms today) from Royalties, though the book might make a profit for more than half.
Less than a few percent of Authors signed up by the Big 5 make enough from writing to live on.

Basically the big 5 are inept and almost everything now.

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Old 01-15-2020, 05:15 PM   #4
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Some of the above article is clueless.

It's true that traditional publishers are nuts when it comes to distribution, inventory and POD (but inkjet? !!!!).
You're not aware that small batch printing can be done with industrial inkjet printers?

Quick and dirty:

https://www.ricoh-usa.com/en/service...ooks-on-demand

The tech is also used for non-book products:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts1ou1yzmcg

The article is about the manufacturing side, hence the mention of last year's paper shortage and its impact on the publishers.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelk.../#1d3887fd1b26

http://www.sheridan.com/magazines-re...nge-publishers

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What’s behind the paper shortage and rising costs?

Ironically, we can place a large portion of the blame for thepaper shortage on the Digital Age. As more publishers switch their print titles to digital, demand for paper took a nose dive.

Many paper mills in the United States and Canada are shutting down machines or converting them to make more lucrative products such as packaging. In addition, China shut down nearly 280 paper mills as part of an environmental cleanup strategy, while increasing its demand for paper.

On top of that, according to an article on Publishing Executive, the cost of raw pulp has increased 25% during the past 18 months, and fuel costs and trucking shortages are further driving up paper costs. In addition, tariffs on paper imported from Canada slowed that source and contributed to higher paper costs.

The effects on publishers
Printers are being hit by these higher paper costs, and many will pass those increases to their customers. Most experts agree that the paper shortage will go at least through 2019. Even after the supply picks up, prices will remain high as printers restock their shelves. In addition to the high printing costs, the shortage also means longer print lead times.
Hard to get paper means scheduling issues, higher paper prices means higher print book prices which likely means higher agency prices. Paper problems spatter digital.

Nothing to do with publisher competence.
Not on this.

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Old 01-15-2020, 05:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by FrustratedReader View Post
Some of the above article is clueless.

It's true that traditional publishers are nuts when it comes to distribution, inventory and POD (but inkjet? !!!!).

It's true that Amazon totally dominates online for paper and ebook and audio. Largely because the Big publishers are more interested in taking over each other and preserving existing systems than customers, authors, POD and direct distribution to physical retail.
It's impossible to be notified, as a bookseller, if a book goes out of print when it's available. Also it's like as if POD doesn't exist.

Textbooks is a whole separate issue and varies between Primary / Secondary / Third level and Country. The Education use of electronic only Textbooks (esp schools) is dominated by the Apple iPad, a device that's essentially a walled garden and x2 overpriced with insufficient battery life. It's mandatory in some Irish Secondary schools and some UK Primary schools. That's wrong and as much the fault of publishers as Apple's dishonest education market selling (started with Apple II in late 1970s).

The article is poor.

Also in the fiction area, the Big 5 are totally inept at picking new authors. Less than half make the advance (which is much lower in real terms today) from Royalties, though the book might make a profit for more than half.
Less than a few percent of Authors signed up by the Big 5 make enough from writing to live on.

Basically the big 5 are inept and almost everything now.
It's just the usual "I hate the traditional publishers" article that we've been seeing for the last decade. The publishing industry has been evolving quite a bit over the last 60+ years. We saw the growth of the big box stores, the consolidation of the publishing industry, the growth of eBooks and the growth of audiobooks. I'm sure it's going to continue to evolve in various directions.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:43 AM   #6
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hypothetically speaking, what printing tech do the big boys in PoD use?
Inkjet sounds unlikely, but perhaps that's just because of how badly they overcharge for print cartridges on consumer-grade printers.
Like, the ink is more expensive per ounce than gold.
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:13 AM   #7
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hypothetically speaking, what printing tech do the big boys in PoD use?
Inkjet sounds unlikely, but perhaps that's just because of how badly they overcharge for print cartridges on consumer-grade printers.
Like, the ink is more expensive per ounce than gold.
Industrial inkjets are a different creature. They use different inks, different nozzles, different feed systems. Comparing the practices of consumer inkjets to the industrial models is liie comparing a $300 3D printer making plastic tribkets to a million dollar laser sintering 3D printer making jet engine parts. Yes, they use the same core technology but they are very different in everything else.

As to what they're used for, in publishing they're used for very small print runs, often in POD for small runs to backfill inventories. A lot of magazines. Color image work in magazines in particular.

As a sign of how different the things are, check the TOC of this:

https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Handbook...-9783527338320

The inks in particular are very different than the simple dye inks in a consumer inkjet.
(BTW, consumer inkjet inks are intrinsically cheap: the high price of the inks is pure profit.)

Ignore the price of the ebook.
These kinds of books are purchased by factories and R&D centers, not normal people.

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Old 01-16-2020, 07:16 AM   #8
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You're not aware that small batch printing can be done with industrial inkjet printers?
Yes I am.
It's only suitable for internal corporate use. Not Retail.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:23 AM   #9
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Yes I am.
It's only suitable for internal corporate use. Not Retail.
Ingram disagrees.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...conomical.html

Both Lightning source and Createspace have been doing small batch POD using color inkjets for most of the last decade.
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
Ingram disagrees.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...conomical.html

Both Lightning source and Createspace have been doing small batch POD using color inkjets for most of the last decade.
A small batch press run really isn't "publishing" (in the traditional sense), it's more in the field of custom printing. Unless you think most books are going to be "published" in small batches, the impact of this process should be negligible for major publishers.
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Old 01-16-2020, 08:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
A side effect of the changes in publishing stemming from the online and/or digital disruption is that the print world is evolving. Consolidating, shrinking.

From their side, here are some of their near term issues:

https://www.bookbusinessmag.com/post...k-value-chain/
The article seems a little hyperbolic.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:15 PM   #12
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A small batch press run really isn't "publishing" (in the traditional sense), it's more in the field of custom printing. Unless you think most books are going to be "published" in small batches, the impact of this process should be negligible for major publishers.
Small batches are also used for backlist inventory management.
Remember that when big publishers lost a loophole on inventory taxes some years back, they changed warehousing practices and adopted POD.

https://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/how-tho...ed-publishing/

They drastically reduced launch print runs and rely on small batches to feed backlist trickle sales. A lot of books are steady sellers...over time. It is more practical and cheaper to add a small batch once or twice a year than to keep a multiyear supply around, paying taxes and using up warehouse space that could go to other uses. Using small POD batches allows for smaller warehouses so they can save money that way too.

POD isn't just for small fry.

Last edited by fjtorres; 01-17-2020 at 07:11 AM. Reason: typos.
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:41 PM   #13
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The primary method for moving books is by truck. There is a critical shortage of over-the-road truck drivers in the U.S. and the shortage is growing as baby boomers leave the workforce and trucking companies struggle to attract good candidates into the jobs. How will publishers plan for this emerging problem?
This one is real stretch.

Consider:

[U.S.] Truck driver salaries have fallen by as much as 50% since the 1970s

If an actual problem, it will most hurt companies that ship individually boxed books (Amazon), since that packaging requires extra room on the truck.
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