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Self-publishing and print-on-demand businesses flourish using HP Indigo


Story highlights

  • Print-on-demand powered by HP technology is reinventing the publishing industry
  • HP technology provides offset quality without the financial risks associated with traditional publishing
  • HP Indigo's print-on-demand capabilities allow self-publisher to realize vision

HP Graphic Arts helps make self-publishing possible


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It's risky for an author to self-publish. There is little promise of profitability. The up-front costs for the press run and warehousing thousands of books without any guaranteed profit can make publishing impossible. When former pilot and self-publisher Mark Hoog began searching for a more cost-effective way to get his book into readers' hands, he found HP technology offered an innovative publishing solution.

While attending BookExpo America in New York City, Hoog discovered Lightning Source, a print-on-demand book manufacturer. Powered by HP Indigo presses, Lightning Source's print-on-demand capabilities eliminated the risks Hoog faced with traditional printing.

Authors simply submit a print-ready file to Lightning Source. When orders come in online, books are printed on HP Indigo presses and shipped directly to buyers within 24 to 48 hours. With the worry of financing high-quantity press runs and warehousing behind him, Hoog, through his company Growing Field Books, successfully self-published his book Letters from Katrina at a low cost and without sacrificing the exceptional quality he demanded.

HP Indigo presses not only helped Hoog find success, they enabled Lightning Source to transform its own business. “Producing a handful of one-up books is no big challenge. But our team produces more than 250,000 books every single week,” said Charles Marshall, senior vice president and general manager of Lightning Source. "HP Indigo presses are a key to our success in producing offset-quality color books in the volumes we manufacture on a weekly basis."

HP Indigo—printing that makes a difference
Growing Field
"We evaluated all the leading digital printers. HP Indigo was the best choice for us based on quality as well as reliability and total cost of ownership."

Charles Marshall,
Senior Vice President and
General Manager,
Lightning Source

Hoog didn't just want to publish Letters from Katrina, which contains correspondence between grade-school students affected by Hurricane Katrina and their pen pals; he wanted to use all proceeds to establish a scholarship fund for young Katrina victims. Having spent his own time and money to publish books in the past, Hoog knew he needed a new publishing solution in order to help others.

When HP and Lightning Source learned of Hoog's mission, they were so inspired that they agreed to underwrite the project. Soon, Lightning Source printed 400 copies of Letters from Katrina through a cooperative effort with HP. The benefits of the HP Indigo's ability to print a small number of copies with high quality at an affordable price quickly became apparent to Hoog.

From conception to publication, Hoog was able to publish Letters from Katrina in a few months using HP Indigo technology. By bringing his book to print quicker and for less money than he could have using traditional offset printing, Hoog started building the scholarship fund right away. His efforts made an immediate impact on the lives of Katrina survivors.

"Print-on-demand is a whole new model for publishing," explained Hoog. "For self-publishers like me, it can be the difference between financial success and a costly failure."

HP Indigo presses deliver fast turnaround times with HP technology that accelerates even the most demanding print runs with:

  • Automated workflow and production tracking with HP Indigo Scalable RIP Solution for dependable operation and high-performance processing.
  • Immediate laminating and binding with HP ElectroInk's fast-drying properties, which decrease turnaround time and increase productivity.

Delivering award-winning quality with HP Indigo
HP Indigo
"We evaluated all the leading digital printers. HP Indigo was the best choice for us based on quality as well as reliability and total cost of ownership."

Charles Marshall,
Senior Vice President and
General Manager,
Lightning Source

HP Indigo technology was instrumental not only to Hoog's success, but also to the success of Lightning Source. In a typical day, the company prints 45,000 books—often only a single copy of each. The challenge of printing in such high volumes coupled with turning books around in 12 hours or less from order to ship requires the fast, high-quality color output HP Indigo presses provide.

After evaluating all the leading digital printers, Lightning Source chose to standardize on HP Indigo presses. "We evaluated all the leading digital printers," explained Marshall. "HP Indigo was the best choice for us based on quality as well as reliability and total cost of ownership."

Equipped with leading HP technology, HP Indigo presses deliver offset print quality with best-in-class color accuracy and consistency:

  • HP Professional PANTONE® Emulation technology enables accurate simulation of PANTONE color.
  • HP IndiChrome expands the gamut of quality colors, allowing maximum color production flexibility.

Publishers Association of the West formally recognized Lightning Source for the exceptional quality its HP Indigo presses provide by presenting the company with the quality award for "Digitally Produced Book—Four Color" for Hoog's Letters from Katrina. The book was also recognized as one of the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards Outstanding Books of the Year in the Most Inspirational to Youth category. These awards reflect HP Indigo's role in Hoog's self-publishing success as well as in the successful new direction of the publishing industry.

A new chapter in publishing
A new chapter in publishing

Books by self-publishers like Hoog now have a greater chance of finding their way to print thanks to Lightning Source's innovative use of HP Indigo presses. Print-on-demand publishing powered by HP printing technology offers solutions to many of the problems that once held small publishers back.

"In the first phase of your business as a self-publisher, you're shipping one or two books out here, three books there. But the cost of warehousing adds up," said Hoog. "With all the advances in print-on-demand, and the pricing they're now able to offer, that's where I see the publishing industry headed."