Recently I have been consulting to book publishers as they grapple with the rise of e-books, and what they mean for how publishers take their products to market.
One idea I have stressed is continuing to produce physical books as a complement to e-books, but instead making them much more premium and exclusive by using innovative print techniques and limited runs. A seemingly simple idea, this technique is encouraging many people to buy the same book twice.
So it is with great pleasure that this week I sat down and interviewed a true innovator in the Australian digital print industry, Theo Pettaras, Founder of Digitalpress, in another Innovate or Die exclusive.
What is the Digitalpress all about?
We are innovative digital print producers constantly searching for ways to enable our clients to benefit from the best possible options in digital printed matter and marketing material.
Why did you start Digitalpress?
I felt that technology was developing in the digital direction and that inspired me to explore this exciting new area. I saw the need to fill the gap in the industry for a high quality, diverse, digital producer.
Where did the name “Digitalpress” come from?
My past and future experience. “Digital” as I believe it is the way of the future in print, and “press” as an homage to all the printers who have come before us.
Who does your business cater for and what is special about them?
Initially we started out targeting designers as we felt we needed to start at the grass-roots. We believed if they embraced our print methods we could then feel confident of introducing our services to the broader community.
We now cater to a broad spectrum of clients including government organisations, corporate clients and do a substantial amount of work for designers and advertising agencies.
They are all considered special as each job provides with the opportunity to apply our skills, expertise and advice. We have a collaborative approach to our work therefore producing print that is effective, functional and beautiful.
What are some of the print innovations Digitalpress has brought to market?
Too many to mention! Digital raised print, digital foiling, incorporating wide format printing within our small format processes, and unique web to print applications that allow us to print direct to our press in a fully automated method.
Many bloggers have claimed that with the rise of technology such as the iPad, “print is dead”. What are your thoughts?
Print will never die, we are humans with five senses and these all need to be engaged. Print engages most of our senses and remains in our memories as a result. Nothing beats the feeling of a tactile piece.
I personally make no apology for my love for all things technological. It would be fair to say that I am not afraid of technology. I embrace and welcome it with open arms. Within a short period I have been able to understand new technology and use it to our advantage. In order to implement new technologies successfully, you have to understand their uses and applications. Digital printing allows for easy integration with other technology and embracing it opens doors to so many opportunities.
I think the two co-exist. It’s difficult to understand digital technology without a grasp of history. The past is a bridge to the future. It is in the present that groundbreaking developments occur, as I see it, the cause of those who object to modern technology and innovation, very often stems from an uncertainty to the way technology works.
How is the print industry responding to environmental concerns?
Digialpress are both FSC accredited and ISO 14001 environmentally certified. Our main printing press is a Kodak Nexpress, it uses biodegradable dry ink unlike other digital machines.
We are very committed to seeking out environmentally friendly materials and processes to limit wastes etc.
Do marketers and designers understand what is possible with digital print? How are you helping to educate them?
Some are aware but not fully, we aim to enlighten all our clients on the wonderful and practical applications that are possible with digital print.
I often present to marketing and design departments and love the buzz created by my “show and tell” sessions. Samples are passed around and the general feeling is “wow, we didn’t know you could do that!”
How are you marketing Digitalpress?
We believe in keeping people informed and interested, and therefore we use a combination of marketing approaches including social networking sites (facebook, Twitter, blogs), monthly newsletters, and design/marketing publications to showcase work/developments/ideas.
We are also contributing to industry articles, and providing regular lectures at design colleges and universities. I love educating students about all things print and where the industry is heading.
You are the Chairman of the GASAA Printovation Awards. Why do you think these awards are important for the industry?
Keeping the industry relevant and alive goes hand-in-hand with creativity and innovation. I feel those who think outside the square and come up with ways that inspire others using print should be recognised, therefore the Printovation awards can help as a platform for showcasing this.
The Australian print industry has an exceptional print awards program however in the past the focus has been mostly on print quality rather than print innovation. For our industry to continue to evolve we need to encourage others to be more innovative.
What has been the best part of starting Digitalpress?
Everything! Seeing ideas come to fruition, developing new digital techniques, working with great people, collaborating with creative minds, learning from mistakes and knowing that my contribution in the industry will play an important role in the industry for the future.
What has been the hardest part?
Tight and unrealistic deadlines, difficulty juggling work/life balance, and having the capital to be able to invest in new technology.
What is the best piece of business advice you ever received?
I worked in my Dad’s deli, he once told me “look after the customer, they may be buying devon today but tomorrow they will buy smoked salmon”.
What’s next for Digitalpress?
We are very excited about the arrival of our brand new Kodak Nexpress 3300. It’s the first of its kind in the country and will revolutionise digital print.
I am off to the USA next month and meeting up with some very innovative people there to exchange ideas. So lets see what comes from the visit.
Finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Do your homework, have a business plan and try to stick to it. I live by my high school motto “only effort earns success”.
Work hard and don’t expect to be an overnight success.
- Innovate or Die News – Chris Maloney to Speak at Australia’s Premier Multi-Channel Marketing Event – ADMA Forum 2011 (maloneyonmarketing.com)
- Innovate or Die Interviews – UX stickynotes (maloneyonmarketing.com)