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Commentary & Analysis

FREE: Digital Book Production: Time to Be Bumped to the Top Shelf?

Manufacturers of bookletmakers,

By Heidi Tolliver-Nigro
Published: May 12, 2005

Manufacturers of bookletmakers, especially those for digital press finishing workflows, are tired of being considered second-shelf material. Once and for all, an AIIM/On Demand, they are determined to prove that, when it comes to premium manufacturing, they can compete with the best traditional offset production has to offer.

There is no better place at On Demand to evaluate this claim than at the Books for Kids booth, where the digital printing capabilities of Océ will be paired with the finishing and post-processing of Lasermax Roll Systems, MBO America, and Muller Martini Corp.

“This year, our goal is to show how realistic high-end digital book manufacturing has become,” notes Andy Featherman, on-demand solutions manager for Muller Martini, whose SigmaBinder, SigmaTower, and Esprit Three-Knife Trimmer are being featured as part of the Books for Kids production line. “People speak about needing digital book production, but it’s always, ‘We’re waiting on the quality.’ That’s been the story for a long time. Our message is, ‘Commercial quality finishing is available to the digital market now.’”

Come On — Test Me!

In particular, quality has remained a big issue for publishers, particularly large publishers, that have been looking at short-run digital book production for everything from advance copies to reprints. Always mindful to compare the output of digital workflows to those of traditional workflows, they feel that digital has come up short.

Until now, according to Featherman. “Put the quality of one of these books next to one made on a full-blown bindery line with a commercial web press. It’s hard to tell the difference anymore.”

The success of digital book production hinges on automation, which removes the human element from the workflow. At the Books for Kids booth, the system will start with a blank roll of paper, transform it to a finished, fully trimmed book, ready to go into the hands of children, without touching human hands, at speeds of hundreds of books an hour. While, in a traditional world, this might sound slow, publishers should keep in mind that this is the whole process—from blank roll of paper to finished book. In relative terms, that’s blazingly fast.

Bookletmakers on Tap

“Fully automated, fully integrated, hands-off, zero makeready technology is built inside this system,” insists Featherman. “This isn’t prototype technology. It’s here today. This line can be sold right off the floor.”

Other exhibitors are vying for attendees' attention to bookletmaking systems, as well. Among the other exhibitors with bookletmakers on tap:

  • Standard Finishing Systems, which is showing its Horizon ColorWorks 8000 Bookletmaker inline to Xerox DocuColor 8000/7000 on the Xerox and Creo stands.
  • Bowe Bell + Howell, which is showing its DemandWorks Booklet Maker System, which automates the production process of creating personalized booklets, such as manuals and financial reports.
  • C. P. Bourg Manual Plus Book Factory, which is showing online to the Xerox Nuvera Print System, doing automated, perfect-bound documents with three-knife trimming.

Barcode Match

As volumes increase, another trend attendees will see on the show floor is barcode readers that ensure integrity of booklets and other multi-part documents. Duplo’s System 5000 Bookletmaker with Slitter Cutter Creaser, previewed at Graph Expo and now delivering, reads components from a barcode before stitching, folding, and trimming the book. Designed with the workflows of printers with combination digital color and digital black-and-white output in mind, the System 5000 can mix finishing sizes, such as 11x17 black-and-white interiors with 12x18 digital color covers. The barcode reader double-checks that the system has paired the right cover with the right book block.

The DigiFinisher from MBO America is also offering barcode reading for document integrity. Shown at the MBO America booth, the DigiFinisher is a saddle-stitcher with a barcode reader that sets the thickness of the machine up to 8mm, providing full control over the contents and sequence. In the Books for Kids booth, MBO America is also part of fully automated book production, with its 8-page and 12-page folding units and with its palamides alpha500 delivery that accumulates the signatures and delivers them into the Muller Martini perfect binder.

At the Buskro booth, MBO is partnering with Buskro to show personalized mailing with coupons. The line tips on pre-printed credit cards, then reads the cards with a camera reading system and the Buskro equipment prints the message matched from the database. The result is personalized coupons paired to the appropriate credit card in a seamless, automated process.

Bowe Bell + Howell is showing its JETVision advanced reading system, which including OCR, OMR, barcode, MICR, DataGlyph, DataMatrix, among others. JETVision mailpiece integrity applications are guaranteed to help mail production managers process jobs accurately and efficiently. The system also enables 1:1 marketing through selective inserting and data-driven message generation. It offers audit trails, quality assurance reports, network connections to any inserter, regardless of make or model, and 100% mailpiece integrity.

With so many exhibitors showing high-end production, the message from the show floor is clear. “You don’t think digital production lines are capable of giving traditional offset a run for its money? Put us to the test. Let us put our money where our mouths are.”



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