A Profitable Partnership

Newly honed grades of inkjet paper help an on-demand book printer double its volume and find new markets

To be successful as an on-demand book printer—with the ability to produce short-run editions that come in on time and on budget—you need the right equipment and a steady supply of quality paper. When one of the country’s leading print-to-order publishers transitioned to new digital presses in its production facility, it needed specifically engineered paper types designed to withstand the exacting demands of the new equipment. That meant new paper needs carried by a limited number of suppliers.

The book printer turned to Glatfelter, a global paper manufacturing company headquartered in York, Pennsylvania, and to its Digibooks® line of premium book publishing paper designed specifically for the complex nature of digital presses. What the printer got was a whole lot more. The standard customer-supplier relationship evolved into a true partnership, leading to the development of uniquely tailored paper grades and profitable new business opportunities.

The Background

Ten years ago, the on-demand book printer used a single supplier for its special digital paper grades. Recognizing the wisdom in having a secondary paper source at the ready, the printer approached Glatfelter to fill the role. Within just two years, Glatfelter moved into the primary supplier position—because of the quality of its paper and the customer service provided with every order.

The Problem

A couple of years back, the printer purchased new inkjet equipment, which is used to produce on-demand books. As a result, the company needed a paper that would perform well on this equipment and continue to meet its demanding publishing specifications.

Another challenge afoot was that the printer was hoping to expand its service offerings using a never-before-developed specialty grade paper at its foundation.

The Solution

Bill Lanphier, Glatfelter’s key account manager, introduced a representative from Glatfelter’s technical service team to examine the printer’s new equipment and delve into the exact specifications required to meet its daily print-to-order needs.

“Because of the great working relationship [we had developed] with this customer, who allowed several [technical printing] trials to be run, we developed an inkjet grade that became the printer’s ‘workhorse’ grade of paper,” says Lanphier.

Part of the ongoing testing included repeating the print-on-demand process to perfect a finer specialty grade of paper for smaller runs that could hold up under the demands of the printer’s new equipment.

“We perfected it with their help,” says Lanphier. “In working with them (the customer), we tweaked our inkjet paper to their specifications and to produce an excellent image, which exceeded all expectations they had.”

The Results

The customer’s investment in new equipment and its collaboration with Glatfelter to design and develop specific grades of paper has opened the doors to a world of profitable possibilities.

“They’ve experienced substantial growth over the past two years in that area,” says Lanphier, noting the printer’s volume has doubled on the “workhorse” grade of paper.

Meanwhile, the other specialty inkjet paper grades developed by Glatfelter have allowed this book printer to enter into a new market that was previously untapped. It now represents the largest growth opportunity for the printer—and, subsequently, Glatfelter.

“Because of the collaboration, the partnership, [and] the innovation, we have experienced growth year after year for over a decade with this client,” says Lanphier, who continues to seek new markets and develop new products in collaboration with the customer.

“It feels really good to have success like that,” says Lanphier. “It’s the openness they have, the trust they have in us to bring new opportunities and see what we can do as far as coming up with solutions. And just as important is their willingness to work through problems to get to the end result. The cooperation between the two companies has been great.”

*In this case study, the customer’s name and the name of its products have been removed due to the competitive nature of their business.