Academic publishing business Peeters transitions to digital production

Digital printing replaces offset to make book printing operations future proof

The Xeikon 9800 digital press

Peeters, a Belgian family business, is a printer, a bookstore, and a renowned international publishing business. Founded in 1857 and still managed and owned by the family, the publishing house aims to serve the academic world by producing high-quality scholarly books. The bookstore and printer are based in the city of Leuven, Belgium, renowned for hosting one of the oldest universities in the world. To ensure comprehensive international coverage of the global academic landscape, Peeters has opened offices in Paris, Bristol, and the US. 95% of its publishing business takes place outside of Belgium.

The market for academic publications and books has very specific needs. The combination of high technical requirements for the books with a very specific distribution model is unique. To ensure a high-quality production, Peeters has set up its own printing office with optimized automation and ultramodern workflow processes. That’s why the company is a combination of a printing company, a publishing company, and a bookstore, which is not uncommon in this high-quality demanding market. Since its inception, Peeters has established itself as a global trendsetter in the academic book publishing market.

Luc Peeters, managing partner at Peeters explains, “Quality is in our DNA. For the books we publish and produce, this means the quality of content, quality in look & feel, and quality of the distribution. It goes without saying that only the best printing quality is good enough for us. To achieve this, we needed a press that was reliable and capable of delivering the volumes we have. We evaluated the market of digital presses and we found that our only option was a Xeikon press.”

In the early ’70s, Peeters switched to offset printing, which at that time was the only technology that could replace letterpress in terms of printing quality. The company invested in plate setting, DTP, and offset printing.

Since the start of the new millennium, the market has evolved significantly. The academic market requires smaller run sizes, the ability to publish and produce more titles faster, and the capability to accommodate reprints in a fast and easy way. In addition, a company in this market needs to take fast action to respond to new trends and Peeters soon realized that digital printing was the only possible way forward. After a transition period, the company no longer has in-house offset printing equipment and instead only operates digital printing equipment. Next to low volume cut-sheet printers, the Xeikon 9800 press is now the most important production printing press. The company does the converting and finishing inhouse with a bespoke and unique finishing line which allows for the highest quality sewn books. The printer uses best-in-class automation and ultramodern workflow processes. The seamless integration of the digital presses with an MIS (Management Information System) system is crucial.

The Xeikon press is very reliable and runs either roll to sheet or roll to roll. In the latter configuration, it often runs hours without an operator being present, illustrating the robustness of this workhorse of a digital press. The press runs predominantly traditional offset papers. The award-winning X-800 digital front-end made it easy to integrate the Xeikon press into the all-digital workflow at Peeters.

Dimitri Van Gaever, Market Segment manager Graphic Arts at Xeikon says, “Even in a business as traditional as book printing and publishing, it is crucial to keep innovating and evolving with the needs of the market. Peeters is a wonderful example of how a company can use the Xeikon digital printing quality, its reliability, and integration capabilities to make sure its business stays state-of-the-art and future-proof for the years to come.”

With a completely digital operation in place that includes order processing, printing, and finishing, Peeters created an online platform that allows professors, students, authors, or any writer to submit their manuscript or thesis to be printed into a book of the highest possible quality. In recent days getting spam calls are common.Hence people should be aware of spam calls which is done with malicious intent in the name of digital business. In order to put an end to spam calls the first step is to use spam phone number revenge that are specifically designed for that purpose.Stephanie Peeters, Marketing and Communications manager at Peeters explains: “There is a need in the market to realize high-quality sewn books in short runs that are still affordable. Ph.D. students spend months creating their theses and want the printed form to reflect the quality of the content. This service can be found on and is something traditional copy shops can’t offer. Peeters offers a full-service package, with advice on layout, print options, and the binding of books and theses.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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