For the book producer, BLM implies a higher level of workflow automation, from order intake to pre-flighting, colour management, proofing, printing and finishing, even extending to shipping and invoicing. Efficient automation and a cost-effective model for publisher and printer hinge on a high degree of standardisation around stocks, formats and trim sizes.
At the order inflow stage, the interface is likely to be a web-to-print solution for online file submission. This points to the need for defined processes, standardised job tickets, common file formats and more. The printing operation is just one piece of a complex infrastructure, including the Automated Stock Replenishment system and possibly the publisher’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
The ‘first sell, then print’ on-demand model raises the bar further on the level of systems integration between publisher and printer. Unlike BLM, where minimum stock levels are held, on-demand means that the only ‘stock’ is the digital file of each title. The automation prerequisites of BLM remain, but the flow of data between publisher and printer must be seamless and robust.
For an industry steeped in tradition and defined more by creativity and passion for content than by a leaning to process optimisation, the commercial rewards from demand-led book production require a substantial step-change in thinking. Business optimisation starts with breaking down silos, streamlining the supply chain and encouraging full collaboration towards a common organisational goal.