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On Demand--Build A Digital Dynasty

July 1999
Digital printing will surge to a $35 billion market by 2003. At the recent On Demand Conference, in-plant managers learned how to prepare.

Every year at the conference he started back in 1994, Charles Pesko presents the crowd with figures predicting the tremendous growth of on-demand printing. Even so, when Pesko, managing director of CAP Ventures, announced this year that digital printing will surge from $13.3 billion in 1998 to $35.1 billion in 2003—a 21 percent per year growth rate—the crowd at the On Demand Digital Printing and Publishing Strategy Conference and Exposition was duly impressed.

Nearly 20,000 people arrived in New York recently for the conference, co-produced by Advanstar Communications and CAP Ventures. It featured 275 exhibits along with daily keynotes and conference sessions. In-Plant Graphics moderated several sessions and attended many more.

The first keynote speaker on Tuesday morning was Steve Kroft, co-editor of 60 Minutes. Kroft made some interesting parallels between the changing roles of journalists and printers. Both have seen changes in their professions through advances in technology, and both are now on-demand entities. People want their news right when it is happening, just as they want their printed work right when they need it. Kroft has seen the newsroom transform from a manual process into a digital medium, just as many printers have seen their shops change in recent years.

"Computers have taken over a new and dominant role in the newsroom," Kroft said. And with prices on equipment coming down, and more people having access to the Internet, Kroft feels the information marketplace will be flooded with competition.

"Soon we will have a world where anyone can publish as costs come down," he said. He added that pressures for up-to-the-minute news have changed journalism from a craft into a manufacturing operation, much like on-demand printing has altered in-plants.

Following Kroft, Pesko fed off the hype from Star Wars to tell those in attendance that, "the force is with you" when you use digital printing equipment.

"Today the forces of print technology are colliding head-on with the forces of information technology to detonate a new business paradigm—resulting in exploding opportunity for the on-demand market," Pesko said.

Pesko backed that statement up with figures from a recent CAP Ventures annual forecast. According to the report, the total U.S. printing market, including commercial, in-plant and quick printers, stands at $105.5 billion and is projected to grow "modestly" to $130.9 billion by the year 2003.

The report found that digital printing would surge to $35.1 billion in 2003. Between 1997 and 1998, Pesko said, on-demand printing grew by 27 percent. Digital color is expected to grow at an annual rate of 31 percent, Pesko revealed, and now makes up 62 percent of the on-demand market.


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