Print On Demand, Print to Order

Books, cloud and the future of publishing

Written by Jon Tolley
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Originally published
March 20 2019,
April 10 2021

You might not expect anyone in the print industry to say that putting ink on to paper has to be the easiest part of marrying up a book with its reader. But we’ve gained insight over years of working with publishers and have had opportunity to both feel and share their pain, particularly when it comes to the supply chain.

The pain

We know publishers can suffer from a range of supply chain related issues. Average fill rates are typically around 85% - 15% of sales are being delayed or missed altogether - and excessive inventory is costing a fortune. Compound this with return rates of 40% or more in certain sectors and it amounts to a very big headache indeed.


The case for “digital transformation”

According to George Westerman, “Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organisation uses technology, people and processes to radically change business performance”.

And the use of “radical” is critical here. Digital transformation is a term wrongly applied by many who are simply tweaking or amending an existing business processes but using some form of technology to do it.

For example, long print runs have been replaced by short ones, and technology in the shape of digital printing has been responsible for that, but this alone doesn’t constitute a fundamental shake-up. Something far more transformative needs to happen if the industry is to soothe its ills.


Hidden costs

The real cost of a book is not just the unit print costs. Nowhere near. Which means it’s important to look at the cost of capital, service, risk, storage and all other associated factors to see where gains can be made. Advanced supply chain analytics like these are said to be the most critically important tool for digital transformation.


The panacea

In the traditional supply chain, books are printed first and then sold. Turning that on its head is print-to-order (PTO). An integrated, end-to-end supply chain solution which connects the content from publishers to a print service provider (PSP). Books are produced at the point of need and then shipped directly to the consumer. The result? Zero- inventory, just-in-time, risk and storage free.


More than “print on demand”

Where POD certainly made an impact, and it was a sure-fire way to reduce stock-holding and speed up replenishment, PTO goes further by bundling in fulfilment too.

A set of cloud-based services, Bookcase is Prime’s PTO solution. Designed and built to streamline the supply chain, radically, it cuts time and waste and delivers speed and value to the consumer, with real savings to the publisher.


If you’d like to know more <click here> to download our White Paper on “The surprising truth about publishing”. Alternatively, get in contact with our Bookcase team <click here>

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