'Technology is changing – the book is surviving' - European Book Printers’ Strategic Workshop

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 08:15

“Technology is changing – the book is surviving” - European Book Printers’ Strategic Workshop

The future of the book printing industry was discussed at Intergraf’s European Book Printers’ Strategic Workshop on 28th and29th September near Munich, Germany. More than 30 participants registered to the event which included market and technology presentations as well as strategic group work participant discussions, led by moderators Mike Hopkins and Fiona Narburgh.

Intergraf commissioned market consultants, Smithers Pira to publish a report on the European book market which was presented at the workshop. The report delivered valuable information on the e-book and physical book markets, as well as opportunities presented by digital printing.  

In general, there is a case for what one participant called “realistic optimism”, by recognising that the traditional industry is a declining market but the advent of new printing technologies offer opportunities to add value. 500,000 new titles are being released each year but run-lengths are decreasing.

Some figures illustrate this situation well. Over the next two years book paper usage is forecast to decline nearly 36%. During this same period, the volume of digital print is expected to double to 5.1% with value as a percentage of all publisher revenues increasing to 49.4% from the current 30%.

Participants undertook a SWOT analysis of the market. In any SWOT analysis, pairing the results of Strengths/Weakness to Opportunities/Threats shows two-sides of the same coin. For example the strength of “knowledge of technology” contrasts with the “cost of investment”.

Beatrice Klose, Secretary General Intergraf said: “The findings from this report and SWOT analysis show that large-volume printed books will decline in favour of short-run, digitally printed copies. But change, does not mean only decline. The potential of digital technology is not yet fully used and can be further exploited to the benefit of printers and publishers”.

Part of the networking opportunities at this strategic workshop included company visits. Participants visited the printing and publishing company C.H. Beck as well as Canon Europe’s demonstration centre.

The event was a truly pan-European one with 11 countries represented. Most participants were Intergraf member companies, but there were also external participants from Turkey and Poland boosting Intergraf’s profile in these regions.

This event marked a successful revamp of Intergraf’s previous bookbinding and print finishing conference. The successful expansion of the scope to encompass book printing in general is a very positive development which will allow companies who print books to look to the future with a sense of optimism.  The next edition of this event will take place in 2016.