Knowledge is Power

Transcontinental Printing offers the newsletter, Insights, with useful articles and accomanying white papers on topics such as Designing Books to Sell Without Breaking Your Budget and The Emerging Role of E-books. Here's an excerpt from the article, "8 Tips for Greening Your Manufacturing Supply Chain" "Despite ample evidence that consumers are demanding environmentally responsible practices from corporations, North American companies tend to lag behind their European and Asian counterparts. A BearingPoint study released this year indicates that while 71 percent of U.S. companies promote environmental sensitivity in their marketing, only 24 percent have implemented green supply chains. That compares to 38 percent of European companies and 100 percent of Japanese companies. "Here are substantive steps book publishers can take in conjunction with their manufacturing partners to minimize the carbon footprint of books: "Establish an Environmental Policy. Create a sound environmental policy and then implement it diligently. "Think Big Picture and Collaborate. It’s the whole supply chain that matters, not just paper, though paper is certainly an important component. "Choose Paper Wisely. Paper is obviously the main raw material in a book and the most visible environmental element. "Skip the Chlorine. Chlorine bleaching, or the process of whitening papers, produces dioxins, a carcinogen found by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be 300,000 times more potent than DDT. "Digitize the Front End. Work with print vendors that can provide 100 percent digital workflow from order entry through 3-D dummy creation, proofing and plating. You’ll save time and costs while eliminating important ecological negatives—chemicals, fuel and more. "Get Demand Based. Incorporating digital printing into a demand-based strategy has many benefits. Digital printing requires no plates and uses more easily de-inked toners. "Pay Attention to Bindings. Specify 100 percent recyclable PUR glues that also provide the toughness for hard, continuous use books. "Tell the Story. Let customers know how well you’re doing with green manufacturing practices that promote sustainability. "Finally, it’s also important to know your printer. Materials are only part of the equation. Understand your printer’s emissions standards, paper purchasing policies, internal recycling programs and environmental certifications." Read this article in it's entirety here. Subscribe to the Insights newsletter here.


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2010 Top Trends for the Independent Publisher

Opportunities Abound, but the Pace of Change is Fast
Inexpensive technology is a wonderful thing. When everyone can afford it, playing fields tend to level. That’s the case with some key aspects of book publishing today. Independent, small presses and even self-publishers can compete in ways that there were previously difficult. Here are some technology-influenced trends we see impacting — or further impacting — smaller presses in the coming year.

Marketing Books Will Become Increasingly Multichannel

In all business categories, the most successful marketing efforts incorporate multiple channels. Consumers want books and other information when, where and in the format they prefer.

The key is not to fall in love with any specific channel and to remove roadblocks for consumers in choosing their formats. When sales in one channel increase, they tend to increase in other channels as well.

For example, one independent publisher recently noted in Publishing Trends Blog that he offers one particular title in an iPhone app (David Pogue's iPhone: The Missing Manual App, Third Edition), a printed book and an e-book. When the publisher raised the price for the app, sales of the printed book at Amazon also fell. Conversely, when he lowered the app’s price, sales increased for both the app and the printed version.

2010 will bring more channel interdependence, and the most successful independent publishers will be those that master channel integration.

QR Codes Will Make an Impact

Quick Response (QR) Codes are now available to help you bundle your print and online marketing. QR Codes are two-dimensional barcodes developed by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994 that are now gaining popularity in North America. The cameras found on mobile Smartphones can read QR Codes, which are able to store a URL.

Using installed reader software, the Smartphone can scan the image of the QR Code, causing the phone's browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. QR Codes can appear on magazines ads, posters, postcards and direct mail, bus and train signage and many other applications including books.

Publishers are imprinting QR Codes on release promotional materials to link prospective readers to websites where they might be able to read a portion of the book, view a video, read reviews and then make a purchase. Even if a direct purchase is not part of the plan, QR Codes are great for linking channels and building buzz. As you might suspect, they are particularly effective in marketing books to a more youthful audience, though smartphones and use of multimedia technology are crossing all age categories.

Digital printing Will Continue to Grow

Inventory and fulfillment are notorious problems for all publishers, but especially for independent firms that lack the infrastructure and resources of their larger competitors. Digital printing technologies have evolved and present independent publishers with some unique advantages including producing print runs that have been adapted to the consumers demand and fulfillment capabilities to solve many of the inventory-related problems.

Thus, digital printing will grow significantly as the future of book publishing rapidly moves toward an order-to-fulfillment production model. Research by INTERQUEST indicates that digital printing, which now accounts for less than 5 percent of overall book production, should grow at an annual rate exceeding 25 percent.

Factors driving the trend include:

  • An industry revolution that encourages matching print runs to order quantities rather than printing books first and then selling them.
  • More specialized titles that contribute to decreasing run lengths—50-60 percent of active soft-cover titles sell fewer than 2500 copies.
  • Revenue concerns that make publishers more sensitive to total lifecycle costs.
  • A desire to get to market faster with a broader spectrum of products that includes backlist books and books previously out of print.
  • Improved digital print technologies that continue to expand the reach of digital equipment. Of particular significance will be further development of finishing and fulfillment automation, simplified digital asset management and further reduction in the cost of digital print.

    So what does a typical digitally printed book look like? From a color standpoint, almost anything you can imagine. Digital printing enables printing in full-color, black and white, or both while interspersing the pages as desired.

    According to research from Xerox Corporation, here is the typical profile of a digital book:

  • Common trim sizes are 5” x 7”, 6” x 9” or 8.5” x 11”
  • Typical imaging area is between letter and tabloid size
  • Average page count of about 300 pages
  • 80% have run lengths less than 500 copies
  • 25% have run lengths less than 100 copies
  • Most are perfect bound

  • Bottom line: digital printing, teamed with a streamlined workflow, is potentially the ideal combination for short-run book publishing and will continue to flourish in 2010.

    Quality Will Still Count and Covers Will Still Sell

    In the quest to reduce costs and gain speed to market, publishers — often big publishers — began to cut corners that diminish book quality, sometimes embarrassingly so. Ask an author. Yet, many people who purchase printed books still see them as treasures, something to be enjoyed and cherished over many years.

    Whether heeded or not, we believe quality design and manufacturing will enhance the success of publishers who employ that approach in 2010 and beyond. What’s more, publishers will certainly continue to increase their odds for success by creating compelling book covers and jackets.

    Abby Ross, a readers’ advisor librarian to patrons of all ages and former independent bookseller, offers these observations in Today’s Cover Story, New Trends in Book Cover Design and their Impact on Readers:

  • Cartoon Covers. Original art by well-know cartoonists is currently popular. This approach is even working in repackaging literary classics such as Candice with new art created by graphic novel legends. Cartoon art is great for attracting new readers to older literary works.
  • Return of the Pulps. Retro styles from 1950s and 60s pulp fiction are on the comeback trail. These alluring images are emerging not only on reprints of classic detective novels but also on new books by current mystery writers. The covers have great appeal to readers of this genre.
  • The Book as Art Object. Literary novel imprints such as McSweeney’s Regtangulars are going well outside the box by using bold colors and original art printed — or even embossed — directly onto clothbound book covers. These books require no jacket, and the style appeals especially to readers who value a book’s aesthetics as well as its word content. Other publishers are taking notice and beginning to adopt this approach for selected titles.

  • Knowing your specific readers will also help you design covers that are more appealing. As a new Ad Age white paper, 2010 America, points out, the latest U.S. Census is going to reveal that there is no more “Joe Consumer.” According to demographics expert Peter Francese, the average consumer has been replaced by a complex, multidimensional society that defies simplistic labeling. Thus, book publishers with customer databases could potentially benefit from performing some database analysis to get a clearer view of their book-buying customers.

    Hardware and Software Innovations Will Keep On Coming

    Currently, the Amazon Kindle is providing an exceptional reading experience. Three years ago, this was just an idea that was to be an “entirely new class of device” that has become a worldwide phenomenon. There are promising innovations that will help publishers on both the electronic and print sides. Sony hints that wireless and Mac-compatible readers are in the not too distant future. Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 (CS4) enables direct e-publication export from the popular InDesign page layout program. Stanza’s popular free e-book reader app for the iPhone lets users download 100,000 titles while also controlling font sizes and colors, portrait mode or landscape, justification, line spacing, and hyphenation. Digital printing presses continue to increase speed, raise already high quality levels and add in-line bindery functions.

    So get on board. Opportunities for small, independent presses and self-publishers are present like never before. But the pace of change is fast. Align yourself with partners who understand your unique needs and have the capabilities book publishing 2010 demands.

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    Bruce Jensen is the group vice president of sales for Transcontinental Printing’s Magazine, Book & Catalog group. For more information on Transcontinental Printing, please visit