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Inkjet printing has revolutionised the way books – particularly trade paperbacks – are produced and distributed. Inkjet speeds and web widths have skyrocketed with the introduction of the HP ‘T’ series at the very high productivity end and medium speed colour web presses from manufacturers such as Screen, Ricoh, Canon/Océ, Xerox/Impika and Kodak. But how does it really happen? It all starts with an author and a chance meeting while in hospital for some ‘body plumbing’ gave Andy McCourt an insight few have experienced.

IMG 5368 2
 Izaz Khan with his novel Payback, a thriller set in the Australian outback.

Hospitalisation is an annoying thing, especially when it interferes with a busy and enjoyable work schedule, but sometimes the nuts and bolts need attention and the plumbing serviced! The inactivity can be tortuous but, to my delight, a fellow ward occupant turned out to have published his novel “Payback” – using print-on-demand – just 2 weeks prior. Of course, it is sad that he has to spend time here but you could not wish for a better ward-mate given the business that Wideformatonline & Inkjet News is in!

Not only this but Izaz Khan is a former top Sydney barrister (Allens) and Fijiian judge, with a life story that began in the cane fields of Fiji and North Queensland, and progressed through to higher education, the UNSW, NSW Bar and the Fijiian Court of Appeal.

His book is not about his life – although there is definitely a good book in that. It’s a novel set primarily in Australia involving an Aboriginal massacre near Alice Springs, the CIA, ASIO, Pine Gap (re-named Gruber's Gully!) a ‘bad guy’ that needs to be found and bought to justice and a young part-Indigenous man intent on fulfilling that search. I won’t spoil the plot for you but the main moral issue is, once found, does the perpetrator of the horrific crime return to face Court – or Tribal law – the “Payback” of the title?

How the book was produced

But to publishing – Izaz Khan has used Aurora House of Bowral, NSW who in turn chose to have “Payback” produced by Melbourne’s Lighting Source International (LSI) as an on-demand book, also as an e-book.

2 The HP PageWide T240 inkjet press similar to the one that produced Payback shown here with Hunkeler unwind and rewind
 The HP PageWide T240 inkjet press similar to the one that produced Payback; shown here with Hunkeler unwind and rewind

 LSI is part of the global Ingram Content Group who, in September 2017 announced a company-record order for twenty-four HP PageWide T240 HD series high volume inkjet presses, a couple of which headed to LSI’s Scoresby, Melbourne plant. It’s here that the encoded PDF files for books are received, the print run from one copy to n-whatever entered, the book/s are introduced into the workflow and are printed, bound, packed and shipped. If placing copies in retail book shops, the print runs can be adjusted to suit demand and not pumped through ‘en masse,’ warehoused and re-distributed. On average, over 50% of read-for-pleasure books printed are re-pulped under the old offset & warehouse model, which typically required at least 2,500 copies to be produced.

If sold online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia etc, the customer ordering a copy will have paid for the book before it is printed and shipped. Covers are printed on HP Indigo presses for ultimate colour and resolution quality but the book-blocks containing the text are printed on PageWide T240 inkjet devices across a 558mm web in either mono or CMYK + a bonding agent. Production speeds of up to 152 metres per minute (linear) are achieved.

The printhead technology and inks are HP’s own, thermal rather than piezo. Izaz Khan’s ‘Payback’ book had a first print run of just three copies for him, the publisher and the publisher and proofing.

“Payback” by Izaz Khan will still require the usual promotion, reviews and word-of-mouth advocacy but the speed and efficiency to market is vastly improved, thanks to HP’s PageWide inkjet technology at LSI Melbourne. And yes, it brings book printing back on-shore, adding jobs and postal services into the mix.

It’s a cracking-paced read of murder, racism, a chase to the wildest parts of Australia and the final moral issue: Court justice before judge and jury or 30,000-year old tribal justice? Why not order your own copy online for $28.50? You can get it from numerous online booksellers but good old Angus & Roberston might be a great place to start:

This is indeed the future of book publishing, and wide format inkjet has made it all possible.

Website, Ingram Lightning Source Melbourne: