Quad/Graphics has announced a strategic investment plan that includes the installation of "20 or more" HP inkjet web presses in the next three-years as it looks to transform its book printing capability.
The US print giant plans to have five new HP high-speed colour inkjet web preses in production this year, with the first due to be installed at its Versailles, Kentucky facility later this month.
The remaining 15 or more presses will be installed across the printer's production facilities, to maximise fulfilment and just-in-time delivery, in 2016 and 2017.
Quad/Graphics also plans to invest in an unspecified front-end workflow "for accepting orders and putting them immediately into production" as well as "back-end integrated systems for finishing, distribution and fulfilment".
Joel Quadracci, chairman and chief executive of Quad/Graphics, said: "With this investment in digital presses and integrated systems we can support a broad industry transition to a print-on-demand, zero-inventory model.
"Our digital press solution will help redefine the entire book supply chain, giving publishers increased customisation and versioning capabilities; faster time-to-market; reduced waste, inventories and obsolescence; and lower fixed costs.
"Accordingly, publishers will be able to focus more on content and have the ability to redeploy the capital previously tied up in inventory to other initiatives."
Once it has installed all 20 presses, Quad/Graphics will have the capacity to print nearly 3bn colour pages each month. Quad/Graphics described the HP presses as "the widest, most productive technology available in the marketplace today".
The company cited a recent Interquest digital book printing study that forecast overall volumes of digitally printed books would increase by 15.2% annually for the next five years, as well as a Nielsen Books & Consumer survey that found printed books are outselling e-books by a two-to-one margin.
"We aim to be the book producer of choice," said Quadracci. "We have a clear vision for the future of this industry and we are taking the bold, necessary steps to realize that vision for the benefit of a $30bn book publishing industry."