LA Vergne, TN -- Lightning Print Inc. has declared its pilot production phase "a resounding success," and early reports from publishers indicate the new "on demand" book printing service is already giving new life to hard-to-find titles.
On the strength of its successful pilot, Lightning Print announced today it is moving forward aggressively with its service to the book industry -- and set a goal of 10,000 book titles in its digital library by the end of the year. Lightning Print is a division of Ingram Book Group and Nashville-based Ingram Industries Inc.
"Our pilot program was a resounding success and has exceeded our expectations in every respect. We’re moving forward," said Larry Brewster, Ingram Vice President and General Manager of Lightning Print Inc. "What we’ve done up until now merely set the stage for the real performance."
He also announced that a special pricing incentive is being offered to publishers, enabling them to set up their book titles in Lightning Print’s digital library risk-free with no up-front cost.
During the pilot program, three dozen U.S. publishers have submitted over 150 book titles. Already, publishers are reporting that the new, high-speed service is helping them answer the needs of a variety of customers, including booksellers, librarians and educators.
"I honestly believe that this will significantly change the face of publishing," said Kerry Anderson, President of Gospel Advocate Co. His firm was able to respond to a university instructor’s demand for copies of Balance, a collection of essays by the late Dr. Ira North.
"We’re going to bring back into print old books that are important but that you can’t sell 5,000 of in a year," Mr. Anderson added. "Many good, important books drop out of print, and therefore aren’t accessible to people. This will allow new books to stay in print forever, and important books to be brought back into print.
"We’re excited about it. It’s important for our culture, and for our ministry. It keeps those thoughts alive and exposes them to a new generation."
Steven Schragis, publisher at Carol Publishing Group in Secaucus, N.J., said Lightning Print is enabling his company to re-circulate 15 titles. They include The Complete History of the Negro Leagues, as well as out-of-print collections of short stories by the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
"We face this issue every month when we have our reprint meeting," Mr. Schragis explained. "There are a lot of hard decisions when we’re out of stock on a particular title, and fewer than 100 re-orders come in. This program provides the answer for those books. We see this as an opportunity. I wanted to be in on the ground floor."
Mr. Brewster said the pilot program was effective in identifying the needs of publishers. For example, Lightning Print heard from the publishers that they wanted multiple trim sizes for books, so LPI will soon offer additional options.
Publishers continue to own the rights to book titles printed for them by Lightning Print. In the Lightning Print process, books are stored in a digital library and literally printed each book one at a time, as orders are received. This "one off" service allows more books to remain in print, providing more titles to the consumer and additional revenue streams to the publisher, bookseller and author.
"Until now, publishers have faced an economic hurdle keeping a given book in print once demand falls below a profitable level for traditional offset printing," Mr. Brewster said. "This has caused both publishers and booksellers to lose sales they could otherwise make. They can now capture those sales and profits with help from Lightning Print.
"Publishers no longer have to worry about unprofitable print runs and warehousing costs," Mr. Brewster continued. "With on demand technology, you print to meet your demand -- whether that demand is one copy or one thousand.
"In addition, titles actually never have to go out of print. On the retail side, print on demand helps booksellers maintain margins, while it increases the number of available titles for sale," he said. "Booksellers obviously benefit, too, through increased title availability and incremental sales, quicker special-order service, and reduced special-order costs."
In the first few months of operation, a total of 36 U.S. publishers have utilized Lightning Print services. Here are comments from some of the participating publishers:
Philip M. Pfeffer,
President & Chief Operating Officer - Random House:
"Lightning Print brings a new dimension to our reprint decision-making at Random House. We also plan to print thousands of galleys and reader editions each year using Lightning Print’s service. The quality is excellent, the cost is competitive, and the turnaround time is impressive."
President - National Book Network Inc.:
"LPI is an outstanding new service provided by Ingram Book Company, which allows publishers to turn back orders into revenue with minimum up-front expense. National Book Network is proud to be one of LPI’s first strategic partners in this exciting new enterprise."
New York University Press:
"It means a lot to academic authors. We often don’t have the volume of back orders that make it economically feasible to do a new press run. It’s not cost-effective to do that. Lightning Print makes it cost-effective, and that prolongs the life of a book."
Barbara Probst Solomon,
Publisher - Great Marsh Press:
"I honestly believe this is a major, major revolution. The present situation in publishing is one of extreme frustration: writers are increasingly muffled by a sort of self-censorship; they almost unconsciously shape their books and ideas to accommodate the needs not of a literate market, but of a vast market. Some of the best 20th Century writing can’t be taught in universities because the books are out of print. I have started Great Marsh Press, an imprint within Umbrella Publishing, which will be using the new on demand print technology, in order to be able to play an active role in seeing that books and ideas that I consider valuable have a chance of reaching their readership."
Publisher - Vivisphere Publishing:
"This is really important, and we want to use their system to the maximum. Some books may not make $100,000 in the first six months. The traditional publisher economics narrows the lens down to a very tiny aperture, and if the publisher or the marketing department can’t figure out how they’re going to make their money, the book doesn’t get published. But because we’re working with Lightning and Ingram, those books can be published. We can bring books to eyes that need to read them. Publishers will realize that they can publish any author without betting the farm."
ABOUT LIGHTNING SOURCE
Lightning Source Inc., a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., provides a comprehensive suite of demand-driven publishing solutions for publishers. The company is revolutionizing the options available to the industry in the storage, management, and distribution of digital content. Lightning Source stores books and other information electronically and delivers them “on demand” in either traditional printed format or as e-Books in response to orders from booksellers, librarians, and publishers. Lightning Source has printed over 40,000,000 books for over 4,500 publishers around the world. For more information, visit our website at www.lightningsource.com