Saurabh Printers continues to add book printing capacity

The rapid expansion of digital color book printing

Saurabh Printers
Xerox Iridesse digital press at Saurabh Printers. Photo IPP

Saurabh Printers as we wrote in June 2020 with the lockdown still in force, is a comprehensive trade and textbook printer in Greater Noida. Built-up over the last 30 years by Vinod Gulati, the company is now run with the help of the youngest of his three sons, Saurabh, although the veteran book production man is still fully engaged and hands-on.

As the pandemic is seemingly receding, we wander further every day, and in the first half of February, we visited the Eco One industrial zone in Kasna in Greater Noida to meet Vinod Gulati. We first spoke to him almost two years ago, during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic – soon after his RMGT 4-color 920 ST4 offset and his monochrome inkjet presses were installed.

He was one of the first book printers in the last few days, to tell us of the recovery of the private textbook printing industry, saying that his plant is busy as the private publishers are trying to speed up the delivery of new textbooks as the schools open up in February. Apart from meeting a consummate book printing veteran and learning about his overall belief in the progress of the book publishing and printing industry, we had a look at some of his recent expansions.

Saurabh Printers
Vinod Gulati, founder partner of Saurabh Printers. Photo IPP

In the past few weeks, Saurabh Printers has added a new Xerox Iridesse digital press capable of adding special colors and metallic effects to the normal CYMK process. Good for printing book covers, catalogs, and brochures, it is one of five digital drum and toner presses running at the plant. These are in addition to the battery of eight offset presses in operation and the webfed inkjet digital book press installed in 2020. 

The Iridesse is a replacement for the oldest Xerox digital color press that the company had. In addition, Gulati revealed that he has ordered another webfed digital book press that is likely to arrive in the coming months – this time, it is a full-color inkjet press.

Full service across the book supply chain

The company was busy fulfilling time-bound orders as the publishers have been caught out by the sudden reopening of schools and the unexpected demand for immediate deliveries of textbooks. Gulati explained that he is turning away work that he cannot deliver in time. 

While the company works only for established publishers such as HarperCollins, Lexis-Nexis, Walters, Scholastic, Pearson, WIP, and KOPS, the book production business is seasonal. Textbooks are generally printed and bound from October to March each year, and trade books are printed from April to September. The traditional schedule has of course, been disrupted by the closure of schools over the past 22 months.

As we wrote earlier, Saurabh Printers is a full-service provider to publishers wherein it provides both prepress work and digitalization of books into ePub and other eBook formats. As far as printed books, it provides both logistics and warehousing to its publisher customers from its warehouse in Okhla Industrial Estate in Delhi. The company has also wisely stocked up on paper in the past year, including stocks from European mills currently having difficulty delivering to India.  

Well organized in textbook production, Saurabh is also working on several general titles slated for imminent launch. Keen to maintain its commitments on quality and timeliness, the company answers all queries within two hours.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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