Commentary & Analysis
King Printing: At the Finish Line
King Printing continues to grow in a highly competitive book printing market, spurred by its investments in production inkjet printing presses. In this article, sponsored by HP, Managing Director Adi Chinai explains how inkjet printing has changed its business and that of its publishers.
By Cary Sherburne
Published: February 3, 2015
This article is sponsored by HP’s Graphics Solutions Business unit.
In 1978, Sid Chinai decided he wanted to pursue the American Dream by starting his own business. And what did he choose? Printing! Sid had no experience in the business, but he and his wife decided to take the leap anyway.
Today, King Printing has carved out a niche in the short run book market serving publishers. The family also operates a sister company, AdiBooks, serving the self-publishing market and representing about 40% of the business. Combined, they employ 120 people in a modern, highly automated factory located in the Greater Boston area and generate more than $40 million in annual revenues.
An Inkjet Early Adopter
As technology has evolved over the years, so has King Printing … the company always been an early adopter of leading edge technologies. In fact, Adi Chinai, Sid’s son and Managing Director of both companies, is proud of the fact that King Printing installed its first production inkjet printer in 2008 – before the so-called “inkjet drupa.” In fact, King Printing was the first U.S. book printer to adopt inkjet printing. And it wasn’t long before the company upped its game by installing its first HP T350 Color Inkjet Web Press in 2010 and setting a world record in terms of the number of impressions over the entire HP installed base by the end of that year. “We also have both web and sheetfed offset presses,” Chinai says, “for longer runs that cannot be produced on inkjet. We offer the service, but we don’t see conventional offset printing as a growth business that we will continue to invest in.”
Today, King Printing owns two HP T350 and one HP T230 Color Inkjet Web Presses along with its original inkjet web press. Its proprietary front end consists of a digital library for publishers and authors and an automated workflow feeding volume to the presses. Near-line finishing completes the picture with automated production of saddle-stitched, mechanical, perfect bound and casebound books in runs from one to thousands. “We were also the first in the U.S. to install a DGR KM40 Automatic Case Binding machine,” Chinai adds.
“Over the last five years,” Adi Chinai says, “our conversations with publishers have changed. Before, they were comparing inkjet to offset in every respect. However, now they increasingly recognize that they can harness the power of shorter runs and versioning. With a higher order frequency, printing less more often, not only have they been able to reduce expensive inventories, but they have been able to bring their backlists back to life. It’s an exciting transition, and we are excited to be at the heart of it with our customers.”
Production inkjet has also enabled affordable color across a wide variety of publications.Chinai sees the color volumes continuing to grow as publishers take advantage of the opportunity to cost-effectively convert 1- and 2-color publications to full color.
Self-Publishers Benefit from Inkjet
Inkjet printing has also been a boon to AdiBooks’ self-publishers. “We have been able to offer our authors the same technology that the big publishers are happy to use,” Chinai says, “and they don’t have to compromise on the quality or quantity of product. They can take advantage of more dynamic product times including color-based products and prints on coated stock that we could not offer them before. If a customer wanted to print 100 cook books, for example, we could only offer them a black & white interior. Now we can offer them full color on glossy stock, and they are elated.”
Spreading Their Wings
Experts in short run book printing and finishing, King Printing is not resting on its laurels. “We are also starting to grow our catalog printing and mailing business,” Chinai explains. “Right now it is a small percentage of the business, but we see huge opportunity in the domestic market. We started planting the seeds about two years ago, and they are growing into profitable revenues now. Our production inkjet presses have been a key enabler in launching this new application.”
King Printing hasn’t limited itself to the domestic market for book printing. They established a Global Alliance with Italy’s RotolitoLombardathat enables both companies to better serve their respective customer bases, eliminating unnecessary shipping of heavy printed materials and using a distribute-and-print model instead. “This eliminates a lot of bureaucracy, cost, and time,” Adi adds, “and is a benefit to our customers’ bottom line. We also partner with Vakils Premedia in Mumbai, who provides premedia services for the Global Alliance.”
Chinai cites a recent transaction where a customer in France placed a book manufacturing order with King Printing in Boston for delivery in India. “We were able to leverage our partnership with Vakils Premedia in Mumbai to produce and ship the books in much less time and with exactly the same quality our customer has grown to expect from us.”
Africa, Chinai points out, is another hot market for books. “We recently produced 25,000 books with our partner Rotolito Lombarda for a client we have been working with for a decade. The books were created here, Rotolito produced them and shipped them to Ghana. Our logistics team actually manages all of the shipping details from here because we have all of the details about the end user. And the client was thrilled.”
Looking Ahead and Looking Back
“Had we not made the move to production inkjet,” Chinai concludes, “we would have been in a difficult position. We were early in the game, and now we see many of our competitors making the move to inkjet. There is cost and time associated with ramping up; it isn’t something you can do overnight. So we feel good about our head start and our future prospects. Inkjet is where the market is driving and we are continuing to innovate to maintain our competitive edge.”