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Total Printing Systems: Covering the Book Market

Company follows the digital path in short-run book production.

Big Picture

Rick Lindemann’s parents started Total Printing Systems, based in Newton, Illinois, in 1972 as a general commercial printer serving the local market. They invested in some small sheetfed presses and produced postcards, business cards, and fliers for local businesses.

“In the mid-1980s,” Lindemann recalls, “we started getting into Federal government work. We became a Federal contractor and did work for the Government Printing Office—forms at first, and eventually books. We produced books on small sheetfed presses as well as small Didde web presses, then machine collated and hand-collated to get book blocks. The GPO was our only customer for about eight or nine years. But in the early ’90s we decided to try to diversify a little bit, so we began pursuing more commercial customers. And right around that same time, we installed our first Xerox DocuTech.”

The company continued on the digital path. “We were the first printer in the country to install an inkjet web press for book production,” Lindemann says. “We installed our first Scitex VersaMark, an MPS Twin22, in 2001. At the time, we figured we had a three- or four-year window before everybody had one. It turns out that just recently all these book printers are getting inkjet web presses—we never would have dreamt it would take eight or nine years to have a lot of competition in the short-run book market.”

TPS made the move to color digital presses in 2006, installing a Kodak NexPress 2100 Plus to produce 4-color covers. Then in 2008, the company installed a second NexPress, an M700, to handle 4-color interior work. “We installed the second NexPress because we were seeing more demand for color,” Lindemann explains. “As it turned out, we had it running to capacity within a month.”

At the same time, TPS began looking for a truly high-speed inkjet web press to handle its increasing full-color interior volume, as well as to improve the quality of its black-and-whit printing. “More and more of our customers wanted to be able to add color to the books they were already doing,” Lindemann says. “And a lot of them were producing stuff with color in it that we weren’t printing for them because we didn’t have the capacity to do so.”

The company ended up selecting the Screen TruePress Jet520 for reasons of cost and speed. “Ink is inherently less expensive than toner,” Lindemann explains, “and the speed of inkjet presses is greater than the speed of any of the toner-based options. We were able to transition many of our color customers to the TruePress as a more affordable option, especially for longer runs.”

Lindemann estimates that TPS’s average print run is about 850 copies of a 200-page book. “The bulk of what we do is still black-and-white interiors with full-color covers. Most of our customers are relatively small publishers, and we also do a lot of work with print distributors and print brokers. We have been trying to talk customers into ordering small quantities and getting reprints for the past several years. If they’re going to go through 1000 books a month, they might order 2500 at a time to get a better unit price. But if they’re only going through 500 books a month, they’d be better off ordering every month or two. It works out well for the equipment and for them because it limits their exposure and they don’t have to manage excess inventory.”

TOTAL PRINTING SYSTEMS
www.tps1.com

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