Book specialist makes digital vision reality with Canon


Trond Erik Isaksen
Managing director, Livonia Print

A digital mindset

Specialist book producer Livonia Print in Riga, Latvia has been in business for just a decade, but has grown from a standing start in 2007, with around 550 employees now producing some 40 million books a year.

Having built the business on analogue production processes, managing director Trond Erik Isaksen saw the needs of his publishing clients evolving. Recognising that inkjet technology had reached offset quality for books, he knew that the time was right to push through a digital transformation strategy. His aim was to take advantage of emerging opportunities for shorter publishing runs that are fundamentally incompatible with litho production, future-proofing his business in the process.

Isaksen explains the underlying issue: “The old, analogue book publishing model is fraught with risk. The publisher decides, based on their sales estimates, how many copies of a particular title to produce. The bookseller estimates which titles are likely to succeed in store and orders accordingly, later returning unsold copies to the publisher. 20% of the original production volume may come back as returns, so the publisher’s cash is tied up in surplus stock, which then needs to be stored or destroyed.”

For Isaksen, it was clear that digital production offered an ideal solution to his clients’ commercial dilemma.

Smarter book production

Digital workflow specialist Marc Freitag was engaged to spearhead the transformation project. Isaksen and Freitag recognised that the optimal solution would be to build a highly automated and ultra-efficient ‘smart factory’, with the capability to move any job seamlessly from print­ready PDF to finished book. “We believed that, to build the best digital operation, we needed to start from scratch, rather than trying to integrate digital output technologies into a workflow environment optimised for offset production”, explains Freitag. “The processes of the past needed to be completely redefined, and we had to figure out how to optimise them for a different future.”

Livonia Print employees

No compromise on quality

Quality was also a key consideration for Livonia Print.

Marc Freitag, Head of Business Development Digital, explains: “We could not tolerate any fundamental compromise on quality. We want customers to be able to choose digital production on equal quality terms with our litho products. We also need absolute consistency between a litho-printed original and a digital reprint, from the offset paper stock to the colour reproduction. We recommend the best production solution for each individual job, based on the parameters of the job, delivery timescales, volume and so on. It’s our view that quality and consistency should never be the deciding factor.”

Digital book production began at the Riga site in April 2017, with the combination of ColorStream continuous feed inkjet press and VarioPrint i300 sheetfed inkjet press. Six months later, a second VarioPrint i300 and an imagePRESS C10000VP production colour toner press were added to the digital line-up. The high-volume continuous inkjet system is used exclusively for black-and-white production, while the two VarioPrint i300 presses deliver high quality colour work, taking advantage of the ColorGrip solution for optimised quality. The imagePRESS C10000VP is deployed mainly for cover production, with the banner sheet functionality extending Livonia Print’s capability to handle soft covers and dust jackets with gatefold flaps.

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