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Image Quality and Cost Assessment of Print-On-Demand Books from Web-Based Vendors Offering One-Off Printing

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Due to the emergence of e-commerce and developments in print engines designed for economical output of very short runs, there are increased business opportunities and consumer options for print-on-demand books. The current state of this printing mode allows for direct uploading of book files via the web, printing on non-offset printers, and distributing by standard parcel or mail delivery services. The goal of this research is to assess the image quality and relative cost of a soft cover book printed by various web-based vendors offering one-off printing. Six vendors were identified. Sixteen observers rank ordered overall quality of a subset of individual pages from each book. Observers also applied overall quality ratings to the perfect bound books. Objective metrics of color gamut, color accuracy, overall contrast, ICC profiling accuracy, sharpness, noise, and actual cost were obtained. None of the objective metrics was an indication alone of overall quality. For example, printers with smaller color gamut, lower color accuracy or lower contrast were still able to achieve high overall image quality. Photographic quality was highly correlated with overall quality assessments, more so than text quality. Overall image quality had positive correlation to actual cost. One publisher had a cost model that was significantly lower than the other one-off vendors.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.
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