After working with local suppliers to fulfil its core book business, Amazon is reported to have opened its own on-demand print centre in western Sydney.
Print21’s Wayne Robinson says the news has rocked the local book sector. “All books on the Amazon website ordered from these shores – from the John Grisham bestsellers to obscure self-published tomes – will be printed at the new plant,” he says.
Robinson says Amazon Australia is coy about its operations and isn't disclosing what it is printing, but speculates that it will use high-speed mono inkjet web for book pages, with digital sheetfed-printed covers and a finishing system such as Müller Martini’s Vareo. Category lead for media and books Matt Benham told him Australian customers would be able to get “millions of paperback titles” faster than ever before.
Robinson says local printers are adamant they will still be printing books for publishers and retailers, pointing out they have deals with the publishers, and are able to produce high volume runs much more economically.
Benham said it would be in the smaller publisher and self-published sectors that printers will feel the bigger pinch. Print-on-demand brings specific benefits to “thousands of Australian self-published authors” who he says, have been “keenly waiting for” the launch of an Australian facility. Amazon now prints the majority of self-published books in the US through its Kindle Direct Publishing unit.
Books are estimated to account for about ten per cent of Amazon’s US$108 billion-a-quarter turnover.
Australian print giant Ovato announced an investment of more than $1 million in 2019 through its former Griffin Press business, now known as Ovato Book Printing. The company had already relocated existing digital printing facilities from Adelaide to the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, adding new Konica Minolta equipment to it. It has HP Pagewide inkjet presses in Adelaide for longer-run book work.
Pictured: Konica Minolta equipment at book printer Totem in Poland