Catford Print Centre is forecasting a growth in short-run hardback books and has installed a Fastbind system to meet the expected rise in demand.
The company bought the package of equipment, which included an Elite XT perfect binder and a Casematic H46Pro casemaker, from Ashgate Automation
It also purchased a Booxter Duo powerful electronic staple binder for hard- and soft-back covers from A6 up to SRA3 size.
The firm, set up 31 years ago as an offset litho printer, moved into digital in the late 1990s and today has two Konica Minolta bizhub Press 1060 colour presses and a Canon Océ VarioPrint 6250 Ultra black-and-white press.
The South London-based nine-staff company paid £13,000 for the equipment, which went in just before Christmas. Owner Russ Jones expects it to add 5% to the company's £500,000 turnover.
“It won't make an earth-shattering difference to our company but it's a small addition to our revenue stream to slowly replace more traditional print like catalogues that has slipped away,” said Jones.
“We have moved from low-margin leaflets to higher-quality printing. One of our most successful growth areas is in short-run paperback books from self-publishers and small publishing houses.”
He added: “Not so long ago these types of companies would have found it prohibitively expensive to order a few dozen books and then come back for up to a few hundred more.
“Now they're happier paying for something better - a hardback - so a typical customer may order 100 paperback copies of a family history and 20 limited edition hardbacks to give to special friends.
“The kit is easy to use and gives us the ability to produce books at a size we couldn't with existing equipment. We could do A4 landscape books but couldn't do A3 landscape. Now we can.”
Jones continued: “Looking around the Ashgate showroom I saw a Maxit adhesive coater, which we are now using for gluing posters among other things.
“We propose to specialise in standard A4 and A5 books. Looking to the future, we specified the large-format Casematic casemaker so we can make high-quality A3 landscape books.
“It is a market that is hardly there at the moment but there is a lot of scope for bespoke books in wedding venues and for dress designers.”
He added: “We pride ourselves on the quality of our books, which can match any produced by the big publishing houses and found on the shelves of WH Smith, for example.
“One of our self-published books won an award after which sales took off and it was taken over by a bigger publisher.
“But it is important not to stand still, which is why we are expanding into short-run hardback books. It’s an area that should give us the chance to provide good products at a good margin.
“We have had enquiries from existing customers which, until now, we have not been able to fulfil. It’s the next stage for self-publishers to see what they have created as a hardback with dust cover.”