Eileen Morrison works for the printing company Henry Ling in the UK, and though she is relatively new to Henry Ling, she has a lot of experience in the book printing domain. Henry Ling is a 140 years old printing company based in Dorchester with a dedicated focus on Journals and Books. It is related to their recent investment in the Canon ProStream 1800 that this session has been set up. We get the chance to talk about customers, technology, and business, and though we both were not a hundred percent sure where we wanted the session to end – I liked the session and believe it gives the viewer a great insight.
This is Morten from INKISH TV. And in this webinar session with ‘Learn with us about Inkjet’ we are actually not going to talk to a vendor. We’re going to talk to somebody who’s actually using equipment. And this time we are talking to Eileen from a very interesting company in the U.K. Some may know it, some may not. But that is, you know, the beauty of this session is that I think that we will get much more information about everything that you need to know. And this episode is sponsored by Canon. Because they have sold some really nice equipment to you, Eileen, isn’t that correct?
That’s absolutely correct. And if I just explain a little bit about who I am and what I do.
That would be wonderful.
Yeah, okay. Well, my name’s Eileen Morrisson and I’m responsible for trade book sales at Henry Ling Ltd. Henry Ling are a long established book print binder based in Dorchester in Dorset. And they’ve been long established in the area of academic books and journals for quite some time. Starting out with litho printing. Then moving on into digital printing, which has enabled us to produce short run books on demand. Alongside traditional printing and binding utilizing our litho presses. So it might be quite interesting for people to see things from a sales person’s point of view, if you like. Given that I’m talking to publishers on a daily basis. So I think this might be quite a good spin on things for Canon. And for you.
Yeah, I’m pretty certain about that. And I actually already like what you said. Because having the view of also a salesperson is also about “does this equipment actually bring value both to you as a salesperson and to the customer”?
So I think that we will have a wonderful session here. Henry Ling – because of people who don’t know it – is that a long time, well established company in the UK?
Yes, it is. They’ve been established for…must be about 140 years now. A family owned company started out in Dorchester. In the town of Dorchester. And started out in commercial printing. So printing locally for local business people. Then progressed over the years into litho printing. Then obviously alongside litho printing, they needed to invest in bindery equipment. Over the years, then they moved into digital printing. So very long established. The main market has been, up until now, books and journals for academic and education sector publishers. But we now see that we can move into other markets as well. Which is where I come in looking at trade book sales.
And I can’t help thinking about that when you talk about the commercial printer, I think that some people at least have an idea that commercial printer is like everything from letterheads, business cards to books to magazines, journals, whatever. But it seems that you have been focusing quite a lot on the books. And from here you are extending into new offerings. Is that correctly understood?
That’s right. And commercial printing is an all encompassing expression, to be quite honest. And it can cover everything from business cards right through to book printing. And I think a lot of books suppliers would still deem themselves as commercial printers. But yes. So we did start out in the more commercial type products, as you would know it. But then progressed into books and journals.
I couldn’t help thinking about it. Because, I mean, I’m a big fan of books. You can see I have both books and magazines in here.
Good to see.
Once because I travel a lot I tried to buy some kind of electronic book. And it doesn’t work for me, to be honest.
Well, that’s really good to hear, Morten.
And I was just thinking that if you look at the how everything is progressing in all markets. I was wondering because if you go from being an established book printer in a commercial litho offset print space. I think that you come from a time or period where it was larger print runs and fewer variables and these kind of things. That is also what you have experienced in the past or?
Yeah, absolutely. And without doubt, the market has changed over the last couple of years. And I think that’s really consumer led. It’s with the advantages of things like Amazon. Everybody wants everything yesterday. So where previously publishers might choose to print a longer run and store books in warehouses, then call off to retailers. It’s very much now that everybody wants books a lot quicker. They don’t want to have to pay for warehouse storage. So there’s a much higher demand for short run books. And definitely I’ve seen myself over the last couple of years that publishers might not necessarily increase their print volumes as such or the units that they placed with the supplier. But they will break that down over smaller orders over the course of a year. And I think suppliers have had to react to that. Which is where we move into the digital area. Because digital printing is actually a much better place to do that than litho printing. Which is more suited to longer print runs.
I don’t question that at all, of course. And we are going to talk about this. I’m just trying to understand the market space a little bit first. Because when you say that, for example, the change in your customers behavior of buying print. Would you say that also when you now have the opportunity with digital to actually have maybe faster turnaround time, smaller volumes and all these kind of thing? Does that also open up opportunities for publishers to bring in more titles? Because you don’t have to invest in the large quantities of books and store them. So you can also take maybe a more kind of risk from a publishers perspective. And even self publishers. How do you see that?
Yeah, absolutely. I absolutely agree that…. I mean, particularly, again, with digital printing, with inkjet printing. Where it was previously used for short runs. It cannot be used for publishers that might want to test the marketplace. So where a publisher would have previously invested quite a lot of money and taken a bit of a risk, if you like. Regarding the fact that they will sell all of those books that they held in their warehouse. They can now test the market by printing on the same papers that they would have done with a longer litho run. To see if the book will work. And it could be that, conversely, a very short run book could then move to a longer run. Because, yes, the book is going to take off in the marketplace. And yeah, so I think having litho and digital really offers publishers a lot of flexibility. But digital printing is definitely reacting to the publishers marketplace. We’re reacting to consumer needs, if you like.
And I can’t help thinking about because I think that is a trend we see not only the printing industry. But also in all the industries that have a greater demand for faster turnaround time, shorter print runs, maybe even mass customization. And before we go into a little bit more details about your investment here. I’m wondering if you look at what you just said that the perfect mix is the combination of having digital and litho. Would you say that the reason why you choose… Maybe you can not answer that, but I’m asking you anyway. I was wondering when you choose a litho production versus a digital production. Is that only based on cost of the total cost of producing? Or is it also about speed? I mean, because I think that if you look at litho machines. Maybe they’re still a bit faster if you have like long print runs. Or how does that compare in your opinion?
It does very much. There’s lots of variables come into play when you’re looking at how you’re going to print a product. But generally speaking litho presses are more suited to longer print runs. Digital presses to shorter print runs. I think with regard to speed, digital can be a lot more flexible, can be a lot quicker. But obviously for that you have to build those variables around what else is going on in the factory. But generally, I would say that if you’re looking at higher print runs, litho comes into play. And then if you want to look at shorter print runs, that’s where digital and inkjet really, really does sort of capture the market.
When I was working in a printing company in Denmark many years ago.
I remember that when we invested in that company I worked for. They were also a litho printer and then invested in some digital net time. It was a toner based device. And I remember when I was working in sales, I always had to go to the customer and say: Yep, you can have this one. That is a bit cheaper because it’s a short print run, but it’s digital. Or you can have this one that is offset. And that is very high quality, but more expensive. But today that is not even a question, is it?
Well, again, there are variables and it does depend on the actual product. With litho – I suppose the benefit with litho is that the higher the print run, the more your unit cost comes down. Because the main costs are encouraging all the setups. With digital quite often the unit costs won’t necessarily change a great deal over the lifecycle of the print run. But because you’re not printing so many, it’s really it’s offsetting them both. And that’s why just to sort of say: Yes, we would automatically print something litho. A lot of variables come into play.
But the reason why I was asking was because when you started in the digital print space many years ago, there was an obvious quality difference in digital and litho. And today that is not really the case, is it?
No, absolutely not. And I probably shouldn’t say this, but going back a few years ago, inkjet wasn’t my preferred printing method. Because I felt that inkjet wasn’t comparable to litho. That has changed so dramatically over the last couple of years. And I will go on to talk about the ProStream, obviously, in a minute.
But now inkjet quality is very, very much on a par with litho printing. And that was one of the obstacles in the past. To looking more at the inkjet route. That not only was the quality of printing not quite up to the same level as litho. But also the choice of papers had to be treated to utilize an inkjet press. That has changed as well. So with the ProStream we can actually run the same papers that we run on our litho presses. On the ProStream. So that you’ve got consistency, if you like, throughout the life cycle of a book.
So if I should conclude on what I’ve heard you say so far. It sounds like the market is definitely changing because of demands from both end users and publishers. And general trends is in change right now. And with the investments you have done, and with the quality that is now delivered with the equipment you have, you can basically deliver on every measure that your customer may ask, right?
Yeah, absolutely. We had a color. A Canon ColorStream installed, I think it was back in 2013. I might be wrong.
That’s OK. Don’t worry.
Yes I was going to say: Don’t quote me on that. But so that was serving our existing market of academic and education set to publishers. What we were looking for over, as we could see, the market changing. And we were very happy with the ColorStream that we had purchased from Canon. We had a great relationship with the Canon team. Particularly with the team in (inaudible location). So with the service levels that we were offered, with the Canon ColorStream. We were then looking to progress into a higher-end-for-color press. Discussions obviously took place with Canon. And that’s how we came about being the first supplier to install the ProStream 1000 on site. But that has been a game changer. Because the quality is just so good. We’ve already, interestingly, migrated some of our existing customers works. Some of our academic and educational work. And existing publishers moved onto the ProStream. And customers have been absolutely delighted with the quality as well. So it is without a doubt, it’s opened up new markets for us.
And when you look at that combo of having a digital and litho in the same company. Does that..I think it sounds like they complement each other very well.
Is it also because your litho is reel-based as well? Or is it because you…? How do you do the finishing?
Our litho presses are sheetfed. And to complement that, we’ve got a bindery with extensive binding options through from perfect or slotted bindings, sewing, saddle stitching, et cetera. So what we can do is offer a publisher the life cycle of a book, if you like. So if somebody came to me and I was talking to a publisher tomorrow. And they wanted to print thousand books. What we’d be able to do is print those litho. And then follow the life cycle of the book. So as the run lenghth decreases as they want less reprints. It moves onto the ProStream or the ColorStream. And using the same papers. So they’re getting consistency. And I think that was also something in the past, if you like, that you weren’t able to offer the same papers. So if a publisher selling a book, a consumer might buy a litho book. Look at it – I think this looks great. But if a reprint had to be print at very short runs, you might not be able to offer the same quality. So that’s now consistent across the run lengths and across the printing methods.
I can’t help thinking about… I mean, obviously with all the things we talked about. And, you know, sometimes it sounds like a commercial, it’s about digital in general. And that was not even the intention. It was a learning thing. But what it sounds to me is, is all the options that we are talking about right now is also giving you options to deliver. As we spoke about just a moment ago, to your customers need. And I was just wondering… These technologies that are brought to market with the ProStream and working with Canon – does that also open for entirely new applications seen from your perspective?
It definitely opens new markets, from my perspective. So, again, if I was previously talking to a publisher about a full color litho book, we didn’t necessarily have the facilities to be able to replicate that for very short runs inkjet. Now, we can. So that’s really great. So from a trade book point of view, it’s opened up that market. But the ProStream has also opened up other markets for us. Other commercial markets. Sometimes outside of the book market. It’s kind of early days at the moment, but it’s definitely opened up different markets for us.
And let’s move into it. So the Canon ProStream. How long have you had it in your print shop?
It was installed last summer. So…
So you are a pandemic buyer?
Absolutely. Yes. Not the best year. But having said that, in a way, it was quite good that enabled us to get the machine bedded in, if you like. And we were able to migrate. As I mentioned earlier, some of our existing customers were coming to it. But it’s up and running now. And going very, very well and being well received. I think that’s the litmus test, isn’t it? You can as a supplier, you can speak highly about something. Or also from Canon’s point of view. But ultimately, the litmus test is how customers receive a product. And feedback has been really good. So for me, as a sales person out there in the industry, that’s what I want. I need to know that we’ve made the right investment. And we absolutely have.
And the right investment is, of course, one thing is that you deliver on the time and the quality, as you said. And one is about I think that one of the things that people are wondering about, if they’re going to change from for example from litho to digital. Especially inkjet, is that, you know, when you had a toner based equipment, it was all from click based. So you knew your cost. And I think that some people are a little concerned about inkjet. Because ink is obviously more expensive than ink on a litho press. And sometimes when you get a printer, you don’t know in advance how much page coverage you have. Is that something where you have experience, in these kind of challenges?
Yes, absolutely. And the other beauty, if you like, with the ProStream, is that we can quote a full color job, for example. And it will always be on side of files. So when the files are delivered to us, we can then scan the files. And the ProStream has the ability to read those files. Obviously convert it into dots, the ink drops. And if the coverage…the coverage can actually be altered. So you can actually alter the amount of drops. So it can all be done at repro stage. So that is why I think this is is quite interesting. That quite often you can say to publishers: We can quote on full color. But if we have cited the files, have a look at the ink coverage, it might be that it doesn’t need quite such dense printing. So that can all be addressed at repro stage. And at file stage. So that is another benefit.
So from a business perspective, we set aside that the quality is on par with the litho. Maybe sometimes even better. And then you have the shorter delivery time. I mean, what about the business side of it? I mean, one thing is that you can adjust things. For example, on the cost of the ink when you are in the prepress side of it. But, you know, it’s also when the day is over, is it worthwhile investing in? Can you charge more for shorter print runs? Or is it just something that where you can save cost? Or how is that?
I think again you do have to offset that with litho… As I said the longer the print run, the more the unit cost comes down. You are still looking at click charges with the ProStream. But definitely in discussion with publishers you can look at the pricing. And I think one of the main areas is, if you’re quoting for color, is really looking at the ink coverage. So there are ways if, for instance, I quoted something tomorrow based on extensive full coloring coverage. Then the files came in and we deemed: Actually we can reduce the coverage. Costs can be adjusted accordingly. But it’s not hugely black and white.
No, no, no.
It’s it’s kind of cheaper to print digital or cheaper to print litho. There are so many variables.
Sorry to interrupt you Eileen. It was more because I was thinking that, you know, and maybe it’s because it’s less of your interest because you are in sales. But I was thinking that, you know, I would assume that if… Let’s say that a litho book in thousand copies cost you three pounds. Right? Just as an example. You could probably argue that if you buy five hundred, it will be four pounds per piece. And you could probably argue that if you can send them one off, then it might be eight pounds or whatever. Right? And I was just wondering if that is also a business opportunity? Because, I mean, if the publishers save on storage and they have more options of getting things delivered on demand. Maybe the entire value chain and how the monetization of a process is changed. And I was just wondering if that’s something that you experience when you work with sales?
Yes, absolutely. And I think, again, with digital, sometimes the unit cost can be higher per book. But again, so many variables come into it. So the publishers know that they need to to look and understand that they print on demand, if you like. They are printing the books they need. They’re not printing two thousand books and they might only sell a thousand. So that it very much is all part and parcel of the decision. And it’s the decision that the publisher needs to make as well. That they might look and think, actually, I can only afford this unit cost for this book. We can offset our warehousing costs. But if they want to minimize warehousing costs, then definitely digital would be the route to go down, shorter print runs. You might have a higher outlay for the books. But then you offset that against your cost savings elsewhere. So it’s all, I think, with printing and I think particularly in sales. It’s all very much part of a much bigger picture.
It is talking to the publisher. Understanding their needs. Talking internally. So that we can actually come up with the best solution for the publisher as well. We don’t just decide to kind of make a decision for them.
No, but doesn’t that also require changes in how you sell? I mean, because if you have a sales of two thousand book, you can quote one on one basis. But sometimes if you have a, you know, a relationship with a publisher, where sometimes they order 50, sometimes they order one, sometimes they order 10000. I mean, the selling process. Does that change when you also have these opportunities in your company?
To a degree it does. But a publisher will know very much what they think will sell. We can point them in the direction. If you’re in discussions or in dialog with a publisher who isn’t sure about a particular book. Whether they should run a thousand… What we can now offer is to take that risk away from them. And run a shorter run length. So it’s kind of a little bit round the other way. Rather than going from litho down to short run, go with the short run to start with. Test the market. Then they’re not outlaying a lot of costs to books they might not sell. But it’s all very much in discussion with publishers. And just discussing each individual book with them.
Sounds great and I can’t help thinking about it again. That it’s a fantastic time to live in. I mean, as you said just a few years ago, inkjet was not really an option to replace litho. And toner based equipment was maybe too expensive, too slow. Now we are in some kind of a paradigm shift right now. Where it’s actually something that can be utilized and to some extent replaced, litho. Where do you think it will head in the future?
Very interesting one, actually. Because I think the jury’s still out on that. But I think with the huge technical advances that inkjet printers have made or inkjet suppliers have made. Possibly it could go down the route of inkjet. And I think it’s also again it is consumer led. And is publisher led or customer led. That I think where everybody was used to litho in the past, to litho quality, that is changing. And I think that perception, as I said, it was my perception as well a couple of years ago.
Absolutely. And I think if you if you’ve worked in the industry for a while, and you’ve always worked with litho. And particularly on the sales side, there was always that: I don’t know about inkjet. But it’s just so amazing. And I think the quality now is just so good. That I can see a point where that’s actually going to become the preferred method of printing. Lots of litho press manufacturers out there might disagree. But I genuinely feel it’s you know, it’s just so good. It’s surprisingly good, actually. And I’ve heard this from publishers. That they said wow, we weren’t expecting that.
It’s quite amazing what you’re saying. Because, I mean, it’s funny that, you know, if you are a litho press manufacturer and you think that this is a threat. That maybe this is actually an opportunity for everybody. Because, I mean, you know, you had letter presses in the 60s and 70s. And then you moved all to offset presses. Now you’re moving to the next part of things. And that is just I think it’s a great opportunity. And and I think that your story is probably very good. Because this shows that the technology is on a level where customers are happily in buying the output of the machines. That is always the real test of everything, right?
Yes, absolutely. And from a sales perspective, as I said, it’s you know, I can have an opinion. Canon or any print manufacturer, press manufacturer can have an opinion. But ultimately it’s the customer. And if the customers feedback is good, then that proves that it’s the correct investment. And it’s the correct route to go down.
Perfect. The last few minutes we’re going to talk…
I was wondering… We were introduced a couple of days ago from Canon Europe who set up this session with you and me. And I think it’s been fun so far. And I was just thinking… From your chair, has Canon also given you inspiration and information that benefits you in sales? Or is that more like the management and production? That handle these kind of things in the in relationships?
No, they have been incredibly supportive. And I think and again, the team in (inaudible location) and in the UK have been very supportive. With regard to giving me information when I need it. And that they have got a great team there. But it’s yeah, I think it’s an ongoing process that the relationship is ongoing. But they have been incredibly helpful to me.
The reason I’m asking is because… What I always like when, you know… Once upon a time there was something called trade shows.
We remember those days.
And the reason I am referring to this is that one of the things I really liked about trade shows is also the fact that you can go and pick up print samples. And you can talk to you can see that: OK, this book was actually also bound in a new and a different way. And this color space was really interesting in these kind of things. And I was just wondering in this apparently world where we need to to be more virtual.. I was thinking that maybe they sent the good stuff over to you or made some good inspiration. Because, I mean, one thing is to see what it can bring, but it’s also sometimes to challenge the technology. I was thinking could be fun, maybe.
Yes. Yeah. I think at the moment where we do a lot of work internally in Henry Ling. And you’re quite right, I miss trade shows. But I also miss being able to meet people and sit down face to face rather than virtually all the time. Take printed samples. But what we’re doing at Henry Ling. And we’ve actually we’re just completing a really interesting process whereby we run off a sample book. That shows the three technologies that we currently have. So same images, litho printed, printed on the ProStream. And we do have an HP Indigo. And it’s really for publishers to look at the same images. And I think particularly they’re interested in seeing litho compared to ProStream. And this is where we’re getting that great feedback. Canon have also been very good and very instrumental and supportive and in supplying us with samples as well.
So for me, it’s where I would normally sit down with somebody sending them information. But that with regard to challenging us at the moment, we’re very much printing books.
We will definitely move into other markets. I see opportunities arise. But yeah, so it is very exciting times. Still kind of early days for the ProStream at Henry Ling. But yeah, very, very interesting times.
Eileen, it’s been a pleasure talking to you here in this session here.
It was great to talk to you Morten.
I hope you enjoyed. I mean, I think that this is one of the few prerecorded sessions we’re doing here at ‘Learn with us’. But it also has advantages because we are I’m not as stressed as I would probably be if I was doing everything live and maybe you as well. Right? Well, sitting here in my little office. And I am just pleased that my cat didn’t come in and interrupted us.
But I think that in about 100 interviews I’ve done online since the pandemic, I can’t remember almost a single episode where we have not been disturbed by some kind of animal. So definitely you stand out.
He was instructed to stay where he was.
But no, it’s been great to talk to you Morten.
Likewise. And I wish you the best with the investment, of course. And I hope and I hope you will soon be back to normal times where we can, you know, meet people and show them the real books. And get the advantages of all this, what everything is about. Basic human interaction, right?
Absolutely. And the same with you.