When it comes to production, HP Inc has its fingers in virtually every graphics industry pie, from commercial to labels and packaging print. But the company hasn’t really put much effort into front end processes, preferring instead to work with partners. That changes with the launch of the HP Piazza platform.
Piazza opens doors
The Piazza platform links publishers to SiteFlow so that books can be printed in high quality with repeatable colour and no manual intervention. Built on HP’s PrintOS cloud based operating environment, Piazza matches book publishers with print service providers (PSPs) for fully automated content delivery, production and distribution. The service is about driving pages to HP presses, but it’s also about upending the book publishing industry. The sector is not as dead as anticipated some years ago when e-books were touted as the future of book publishing. The e-book market declined by around 20% in the last two years, whereas printed books are up by 7%. Some markets are growing fast: printing and publishing in India is growing at a rate of 9.8%.
Michelle Weir publishing innovation manager for HP Inc explained that the Piazza journey for publishers “begins with their content and services around content and delivery in a Just in Time model” to overcome the supply chain problems that impede successful book publishing. These difficulties include rubbish logistics and superfluous inventory levels and multiple formats that are spread over multiple PSPs. Enrique Lores, president of HP Printing explains that “in recent years, while we have seen a resurgence of the love people have for physical books, we are very aware of the continued financial pressure for publishers regarding inventory and shipping costs. With Piazza, publishers and printers can support the renewed interest in print and turn the page to a smarter future, moving from a print-to-sell model to a sold-to-print one.” Eric Wiesner general manager of HP’s PageWide industrial division within the Graphic Systems Business sees book publishing as being “designed for massive offset transfer into digital printing. We want to link the value chain from publishers to end users”. HP PageWide presses print 75% of the world’s inkjet printed books. Of the roughly six billion printed pages per month about 40% of these “are publishing pages” according to Wiesner. He says commercial printing “is already past the threshold and is catalysing automatically and [there is] 2% growth in the number of books printed and four percent of this is printed digitally”. HP wants to exploit this opportunity.