Smart book - where the evolution of digital printing will lead

    The impact of electronic information channels on typography

    The growing flows of electronic information could not but have an impact on the market for printed products. But this influence did not correspond to the forecasts of experts, who prophesied to paper books a speedy oblivion. Just as television could not kill the theater, so electronic technologies turned out to be powerless in front of classic books on paper.

    After 10 years of growth in sales of e-books in 2015, according to the publication of the British book market The Bookseller, a decline was recorded for the first time. The total sales of electronic books from leading publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan and Simon & Schuster) decreased by 2.4%. The share of digital books of these publishers fell from 32.7 to 30.3%. A similar picture is observed according to the data of the Association of American Publishers (Association of American Publishers, AAP). In the period from 2015, the total income of official publishers from the sale of e-books in the United States has been reduced. However, in 2017, the decline is slightly stopped and amounts to 4.7%. At the same time, sales of books on paper increase. So in 2018 compared with 2017, an increase of 7.3% is observed. This trend is also seen in the forecasts of PwC analysts, who believe that in the next five years paper books will be the only type of physical media, whose sales revenues will maintain positive momentum. After a slight decline, typography begins to gradually increase production. So far we are talking about a few percent a year, but there is already a clear positive trend.

    Note that paper books to a certain extent become the choice of those who are not ready to compromise for the sake of convenience in storing and carrying a large number of books or optimizing costs. Often these are people of creative professions and those who prefer only paper format.

    However, there have been major changes in typography. Changed user requests. Social networks, the Internet and the availability of information in electronic form set a high pace of life. Inevitably, new trends have an impact on typography. Today's user wants to minimize the time gap between the request and the response. And this required book printing companies to increase their efficiency in order not to lose their customers.

    Changing the approach to typography

    Traditionally, offset technology is considered to be the leader in printing. Its main advantage is the high speed of printing large volumes of copies at a relatively low cost of a copy. But this virtue has a reverse side in the form of increased risks. First, we need a more careful selection of content for the bestseller, so that the whole edition, if possible, was sold. Secondly, large circulation requires storage space for storage and advanced logistics for delivery to distributors. Unfortunately, not every book becomes a bestseller. Over the past five years, no book has exceeded the sales mark of more than 20 million copies. And it’s unprofitable for a publisher to pilot a small offset with offset for checking demand. Therefore, in the printing market, digital printing equipment is becoming increasingly popular.

    Digital printing favorably with quick responsiveness to market demands - in contrast to offset, with its greater inertia of the process. In addition, as statistics show, the main increase in the titles of new books is due to the printing of small print runs and samizdat. But with a certain amount of circulation, offset printing becomes more profitable, and this border should be taken into account. Thus, the offset printing has not lost its value, but has become part of the combined process of publishing.

    New resources of digital printing technology

    If initially digital printing was just one of the alternative printing methods, today it has become a separate printing structure. The development of new technologies and solutions allows to reduce the cost of an individual instance without loss of quality. Flexible settings make it possible to change the content even within the same run. It should be noted that print decentralization, which provides significant savings in storage and transportation costs. This means that it is not necessary to print the whole edition in one place and then deliver it to other cities. It is possible to print exactly as many copies in each city as guaranteed to be sold, and then to print the missing ones.

    Due to these features, new business models appear in typography that meet the requirements of the time:
    • Printing of small circulations. It can be both independent publications and pilot circulations to determine demand or reprint copies when it is increased.
    • Print life cycle management. The number of copies for which there is a guaranteed demand is printed. This makes it possible to avoid storage costs and risk not to realize part of the circulation. The following business model is a logical continuation of this.
    • Print on demand. It implements the principle of "first sell and then print." Since the cost of the copy in digital printing does not fundamentally change from the size of the circulation, this model does not carry the risk of unclaimed goods. The product already has a buyer.
    • "Smart" publication. This is a new promising business model that fully implements all the possibilities of digital printing. Its essence lies in the fact that each copy has not only its buyer, but also is customized for it. Content is selected on request, adapted and printed. Here, in addition to publishers and printers, users also participate in the creation of books.

    Working models of smart books

    At the end of November 2017, the Canon Future Book Forum international conference was held at the Océ plant in Germany, where the prospects for the book of the future were discussed. The experience of the Turkish print division of Meteksan Digital, which has been printing educational materials and examination materials since 1969, was cited as the current model of the “smart” edition. When working on a large-scale project commissioned by the Ministry of Education of the country, together with the Teknolist company, a complex of events Okulistik was developed. It involves the interaction of several structures. First, test materials are printed, which are filled with students. Test results are digitized. Then, based on the test results, personalized learning materials are created that take into account the student’s poor knowledge of specific topics.

    Today Meteksan Digital works in a similar format. To create educational material, educational institutions use the accumulated content base from which only the necessary components are taken. After the layout and adaptation of materials printed ready-made manual, fully consistent with the current curriculum. Individual students can also take part in the creation of such textbooks.

    Guides can serve as another example of smart books. Instead of multipage collections, the publishing house forms a booklet with a certain route, at the request of the buyer, which includes current promotions and offers that are interesting for this tourist.

    Prospects for the development of digital typography

    The business model of a smart book is undergoing a process of development. It is located at the intersection of printing and digital technologies. That is, to create content, search robots can be connected that select relevant materials based on the analysis of user preferences in social networks and search queries.

    The orientation of book publishers to this business model dictates their requirements to manufacturers of digital printing equipment. Today it is not enough to produce only high-quality printing machines. In parallel with this, a digital environment should be developed, from where it will be taken customized content that meets the needs of the buyer.

    Thus, the “smart” book of the future begins to be created today.

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