Book printing challenges persist in 2022
While ongoing economic, labor and supply chain issues prevail going into 2022, it’s not all doom and gloom for publishers and book printers.
On the paper front
Obtaining sufficient supplies of paper remains a significant hurdle. Capacity is scarce and lead times are long. Upside: Communication between publishers and printers has improved greatly. Knowing what’s in the pipeline as early as possible is making it possible for printers to place paper orders well in advance of press dates, a new normal in today’s environment. And publishers are helping by being flexible to “available” paper options to meet press dates.
Where are the people?
A very real challenge for printers is finding and retaining the labor needed to operate machinery. Training programs, referral and signing bonuses and other incentives are moving the needle only slightly. Upside: A tight labor market is driving automation, especially in digital print facilities. Eliminating manual touchpoints speeds throughput, reduces costs and improves accuracy. It is a key focus for all decisions to reduce labor and “touches” throughout the print process.
Reasons to be optimistic
- Print demand for books is robust. Reading entered a renaissance of sorts during the pandemic. 50% of printers expect the book market to hold steady during the next one to two years.
- Advancements in ink-jet technology creates great flexibility for publishers, allowing backlists to stay alive, and frontlists to come forward quicker.
- Technology and automation progress will create greater production efficiencies resulting in shorter lead times (now if only we could get paper!)
Print Outlook 2022: What to Expect in the Year Ahead – PIWebinar_January 27, 2022