HP seeks to increase publishing supply chain efficiency with Piazza


HP has introduced a set of independent and interlocking cloud-based services to make book manufacturing and distribution more time- and cost-efficient for publishers.

HP Piazza, which was launched today (11 April) at the London Book Fair at London’s Olympia, will enable publishers to build a virtual warehouse for the management, automation, distribution, print and direct fulfilment of book orders, while holding zero inventory.

The company said the platform bridges book publishing and digital book printing by focusing on the needs of publishers in today’s marketplace.

Piazza enables publishers to control, monetise, and secure their content, while growing their revenues. It is designed to connect seamlessly via HP’s PrintOS SiteFlow, with the end-to-end workflow allowing for accurate, transparent SLAs management, quick time to market and reduced waste.

HP publishing innovation manager Michelle Weir told PrintWeek: “Publishing is going through a big change. A couple of years ago it was ‘print is dying or not relevant anymore and we need to move everything to an eBook or to online course material’.

“So publishers made massive amounts of investment in technology that enabled them to transform their business in that direction. However, that’s not proving to be exactly what the market wants, especially in education.

“Print is actually growing again, and publishers have asked us several times to keep print relevant but help them change how they print, what they print and where they print. So there are a few real business needs, one around optimising the supply chain – it’s costing publishers a fortune to maintain the status quo, which is to print, put it in a warehouse and pray that it sells.”

She added: “They also wanted tools to help them better monetise their content, which is technically their product. They want to be able to get more value out of that content and secure the content and then they want to find ways to innovate that content, bridging between both print and digital.

“It changes placing an order for 1,000 copies of one book to placing an order for 1,000 books of one, and also distributing that order to the closest point to the consumer where it can be printed locally and shipped directly to them.

“Moving from a print-to-sell to a sold-to-print model significantly lowers publishers’ costs – they only have to print what’s sold, they can build a virtual inventory and not have to put physical books in a physical location for delivery, and they can also do geo-location printing.

“Piazza also standardises content – one of the biggest complaints around digital is that things look different from press to press or from site to site. So inside Piazza we are storing the press profiles and the colour management profiles, so it’s repeatable whether it’s printed in Hong Kong or New York.”

Piazza is optimised for use with both HP’s PageWide Web presses and Indigo presses. Commercially available with immediate effect, users would pay an initial license fee to use the platform and then a subsequent volume-based usage charge.

Ashford Colour Press managing director Rob Hutcheson said: “HP Piazza has enabled us to change the conversation and to offer solutions that have a direct impact on the publisher's bottom line, improving their profitability and efficiency. Piazza is a game-changer for Ashford in that we can expand our focus on supply chain initiatives and now offer true print-to-order, and book of one manufacturing.

“For the publishers, this means titles are always available, ‘never out of print’ and for us, exciting new opportunities to further strengthen our client relationships. Today, we are receiving hundreds of direct orders for titles stored in the Piazza repository, producing thousands of books - all printed to fulfil orders that the publisher has received, rather than to meet forecast sales.”

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