Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Cutting-Edge Technology Behind Print On Demand Book production.

A Publisher Event at Ingram Lightning Source.

Last week I and my OH were privileged to be invited - under my publishing hat - to an event at the UK print and distribution facility at Ingram Lightning Source in Milton Keynes.

Of course, in true Just Us Two style I took the opportunity - quite a valid one - to have a couple of overnight stops due to the length of the journey. A good move as it turned out due to traffic delays. I found that the Pear Tree Lodge by the Grand Union Canal and Marina in Milton Keynes was a delightful choice with easy access to the Ingram location.

Arriving early on Thursday morning, we were taken up to a pleasant presentation room by an efficient receptionist. Once there, we fortified ourselves with a nice cup of tea and chatted to other arrivals.

The presentation given by Andrew, the Marketing Manager was an eye-opener as he took us through the formation of the Ingram company in the US to the present day where the Ingram Content Group has expanded to meet modern day demands of authors, publishers, and retailers.

The tour around the print and distribution facility was both fascinating and staggering. We watched each aspect of print as jackets of all kinds came off a print run, some were I off a title some were 2 copies; the book block (inside) was passed through the printer at a rate of knots; the book and jacket were married up , trimmed and passed for packing.

The cutting edge technology was set up so that the right jacket met the right inside. Most important! All in the space of minutes.

We have been using Lightning Source for many years now. The economics of print on demand made sense to me as there is no need for a 'shed load' of books to be stored and sold to wholesalers. All that is handled by the print and distribution facilities of Ingram Lightning Source. Of courser, another benefit of Print On Demand (POD) is that each copy of pristine clean and fresh-off-the-press. The paper used in environmentally friendly and acid free. No nasty stuff to wash off after you have picked up the book as happened to me a few years ago when I ordered a book about publishing from an on line company. The book was yellowing at the edges due to storage, the paper was thick, and I had a residue on my hands. I was so glad that the publisher hadn't accepted my manuscript. And so glad that I went down the POD route with a major organisation.

Our titles are a quality production from design, to upload, to print, and receipt. Some years ago, I took a copy Chasing Rainbows to a local major retailer for consideration. The manager examined the book and declared 'well, you have quality.' At the time, there were still some reservations - and suspicions - about POD. It has taken some time for the industry to realise what a benefit POD is. In fact some major organisations use Ingram Lightning Source. They are not a special order in the traditional sense as for retailers,there is the 'returnable' option if they want to find shelf space for a copy or two and they only need to order what they need from one book upwards. Ordering a copy at the point of sale would of course probably be regarded as a special order by the bookseller.

The day was well organised by Emily Wright, Marketing Coordinator. Andy was on hand to answer any queries and I also had the opportunity to discuss eBooks with a member of the new Ingram Spark set-up. We left with much food for thought. 

(There is also a machine called the Espresso Book Machine which is available in some retailer stores/Universities in various parts of the world including Europe. Imagine ordering a book at checkout and watching it being printed, bound and handed to you before you could finish your cup of coffee. All our titles are in the catalogue.)

Arriving back at our hotel after lunch, we walked along the canal bank, over Pear Tree Bridge and around the village green for a cool cider at Ye Old Swan.