Howie Fenton from IMG recently wrote a blog post for the xerox blog addressing what is the right “cross-over point” in book volume units to move between toner, inkjet, and offset printing. It’s a question I’m often asked and one that Blurb’s Large Order Services team manage on a daily basis. Howie included this chart which is a good start for the discussion. It shows how traditional book printers look at the options. What the chart does not show is that all output is not created equal.
Indigo Vs Offset
Toner-based output (or, in the case of HP Indigo output, Electroink) has become a viable alternative to offset in terms of color and resolution quality. At a recent meeting of HP Graphic Arts users, I picked up a marketing piece from one of our paper providers, Verso. It had an Indigo print page overlaid on an offset printed piece. They are virtually indistinguishable. But Howie’s chart shows pretty clearly the big issue – price. The cost of on-demand, one-off digital printing is quite a bit more expensive than offset or inkjet. I would argue that the “cross-over point” is lower than 1500 in Blurb’s world. Especially when our customers have enough time to use our offshore printing options.
So where does inkjet play in this mix? That’s where color and resolution quality comes in. Currently the output from high-speed inkjet presses like HP’s PageWide line doesn’t quite meet the standard that Blurb’s clients expect. I expect this gap to continue to narrow over the coming years though as the inkjet heads used by these presses are actually the same technology as photo-quality desktop printers. It comes down to ROI when you slow the press down to improve quality as well as the cost of laying down the amount of ink needed to match offset. Both of these, like all technologies, will continue to improve toward lower pricing.
I would argue that the “cross-over point” is lower than 1500 in Blurb’s world. Especially when our customers have enough time to use our offshore printing options.
There’s a current spot in Blurb’s line for inkjet in the form of our Economy Print Magazine. It’s priced 1/3 lower than our Premium product printed with Indigo. There’s also our Economy Color Trade Books. These come in at 1/2 the price of our Standard, Indigo-printed line. These products don’t meet everyone’s needs, but if cost is an issue they’re great alternatives.
Blurb’s customers bridge a wide range of requirements and uses. We’re especially sensitive to authors looking to resell their editions for profit. Because of this we continue to push the envelope of new and improving technologies to marry the best quality and price to meet the varied needs of our clients. A good place to start comparison shopping is with a Blurb Swatch Kit. It costs $7.95 but you get a promo code that lets you apply that amount toward your book purchase.
From our inception in 2005, we’ve always tried to disrupt tradition and expand opportunities for authors of all types . From one-off family photo books to editions in the tens-of-thousands, our book printing options give you industry-best flexibility for your projects.