The incremental cost of color on a digital reader is $0.

I believe that the next four months are the most pivitol that the printing business has seen in my career. And the reason I say that is illustrated by the title of this piece.

Audiences that consume media will continue to prefer print for many applications besides news and research. The old paradigm of low-quality output for many of these products does not work in a world where everyone is seeing content in color-managed worlds, wheter they be on a desktop, laptop, mobile device, HDTV— or in a quality printed piece that is now table stakes for the industry. The challenge for us in the ink-and-paper business is to meet the requirements of these expectations at a price point commensurate with the value percieved.

I belive that people will pay for high quality output. They just won’t pay 3–4X the cost of one-color, text-based pieces.

The lead up to Drupa is well underway right now, with HP and Canon sharing updates to customers and potential buyers this week. And the big message there is inkjet, and for good reason. Personalized and short run color, which was made possible by platforms like HP Indigo and Xerox iGen, have reached the limit of the technology. While the Indigo B2 press has expanded the possibilities, I believe it has also shown that it is nearing end-of-life. Not that these platforms will disappear in the next few years, but I believe R&D is going to be put toward inkjet. That’s why the lead up to Drupa is so important — major equipment buyers in the printing business are going to need to think about their nextgen production platform and no better place to compare, contrast, and research than the mother of all trade shows.

Add to this the impending launch of the Landa Nano platform. We all got a peek at what Benny was up to last Drupa but this year is where the rubber meets the road. Will this be the true bridge between POD and offset that could revolutionize the industry? The pressure is definitely on to deliver this time around.

I’m really excited about the potential of what I’m seeing. The public has spoken and for most applications print is still the preferred medium. The equipment manufacturers and printers that find a vision for the future will have a great opportunity for success. But it will continue to be an ever-evolving landscape not for the faint of heart.