Choosing the right partners to secure your business's future

The publishing triangle of expertise

Three colleagues working together on a project

A changing landscape

Until recent years, the go-to-market strategy for publishers was to print, then sell. Based on sales predictions, thousands of books would be produced on offset presses – providing the best margin for the run lengths involved – and then shipped to retailers, in whatever numbers were ordered.

This often meant that publishers had to warehouse thousands of books at a cost and accept the risk that not all of the copies produced might be sold, resulting in reduced profits in either – or both – cases. However, with automated stock replenishment systems and digital print technology enabling short-run production, publishers can now be much more flexible on the number of copies they have to produce at any one time.

At Canon’s virtual Future Book Forum in 2020, we heard from Grupo Planeta, Spain’s leading publishing, media and education group, about changing customer demands and how it’s impacting the company’s go-to-market strategy. With physical bookstores across Spain and an increasingly popular e-commerce shop, Planeta’s challenge was to ensure it could maintain stock levels, while reducing the number of wasted books, and achieving fast lead times from order to distribution.

Ignasi Conde Cancells, Purchasing Director at Grupo Planeta, explained how they had been seeking out a book printer who could deliver an efficient service, competitive pricing and superior quality, “Most commercial printers offer high quality and short lead times but only for standardised products. With such a broad product offering, we were looking for a printer who could deliver all of that and on a variety of cover designs, paper grades, book sizes and binding options.”

Grupo Planeta then met Liber Digital, a Madrid-based book printing and binding company at Future Book Forum 2019. Having gained a deep understanding of Grupo Planeta’s challenges, Liber Digital is now working with them on highly efficient order-to-print and production workflows.

Efficiency for improved time-to-market

Founded by Grupo Gómez Aparicio in 2014, Liber Digital specialises in the digital production of paperback and hardcover, fiction and non-fiction, educational and high-quality niche books. Printing over 75,000 books a month, Liber Digital partners with large publishers and small- to medium-sized companies, helping them to approach the market in an economically viable way.

Digital print has become a key component to Liber Digital’s offering as Luis Hedo, Managing Director, has seen more and more publishers move towards business models that rely on smaller orders.

That’s why, in 2014, Liber Digital began to migrate offset volumes to Canon’s ColorStream 3500 web-fed inkjet printer. Luis explains, “The ColorStream 3500 press allows us to produce print runs in record time and its efficiency means that we can offer low prices to our customers without compromising our profit margin. Thanks to this technology and our ability to take on short-run work, we can create new business opportunities for our clients that, until now, could not be exploited because we didn’t have the appropriate equipment in place.”

In 2018, Liber Digital also took on a Canon ProStream 1000. Luis explains why, “In 2018, we saw the high demand from customers for premium-quality hardcover books, such as art books. The ProStream is the only press that can deliver high speeds and superior quality. Short-run printing used to be a challenge for us but Canon’s technology enables us to profitably print short runs with all the benefits of offset.”

Grupo Planeta has also experienced the advantages of flexible print solutions, as Ignasi highlights, “We can now order high-end books in batches as low as 200 copies at a commercially viable price and exact stock requirements will be printed. In addition, the time-to-market has improved significantly, which is key because customers expect fast delivery and service.”

Grupo Planeta and Liber Digital at Future Book Forum 2020

Improving the book production supply chain

Combining digital inkjet printing and inventory detection software, Liber Digital has worked with Grupo Planeta to implement book lifecycle management (BLM), which ensures that they can match production to demand.

Luis explains, ”Understanding the sales channel and the lifecycle of each book is essential to the supply chain. When titles are first published or become a bestseller, runs of over 2,000 are required but, as demand reduces, publishers like Grupo Planeta don’t want to warehouse stock. By combining our knowledge of the sales cycle with book lifecycle management, we can efficiently print actual demand based on feedback from inventory detection technology.”

The triangle of expertise

Although moving from a traditional business model may seem daunting, as Grupo Planeta and Liber Digital have learnt, with partners by your side who understand your and your customer’s challenges and aspirations, it can be made simple. Guidance and expertise from Liber Digital enabled Grupo Planeta to overcome challenges, significantly reduce time-to-market, better manage their inventory and meet customer expectations.

Ignasi talks of the importance of the relationship, “The pandemic has revealed the importance of flexible supply chains in uncertain times. Through our partnership with Liber Digital, not only are we meeting customer demands but we’re also taking advantage of new sales opportunities.”

Working with trusted partners is essential for book printers too. Luis highlights the value of Liber Digital’s collaboration with Canon, “Canon is focused on understanding the needs of us, the printer, of the publishers and of the distributors to help improve the supply chain. The team listens to our needs to guide us along the right track and, by working closely with them, we can focus on the future, knowing that they will provide us with the best tools to achieve business growth.”

Meeting demand for short-run book production

Meeting demand for short-run book production

Meeting demand for short-run book production

Find out how Liber Digital invested in two high-volume inkjet presses and business support from Canon to improve the company’s short-run efficiencies, enter new markets and print on demand.

Related Products and Solutions

Explore further

For more information on how Canon can help you integrate book lifecycle management into your business.