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Amazon has rocked the local book sector by opening its own on-demand book printing and fulfilment centre, which Amazon says will be used to print books for self-published authors, published through its Kindle Direct Publishing arm.

Opening in Australia: Amazon printing books on demand
Opening in Australia: Amazon printing books on-demand

The new plant is located in Western Sydney. Amazon is coy about its operations and isn't disclosing what it is printing with, but it is certain to be producing the book pages on a continuous feed, high-speed monochrome inkjet web from the likes of Canon, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Ricoh or Screen, with finishing likely on a Muller Martini Vareo, and covers printed on a sheetfed digital press.

Amazon has already established book on-demand printing plants in the US, Canada, the UK, northern Europe, and Japan. The new western Sydney plant will be the sixth, and the first in the southern hemisphere.

Matt Benham, category lead for media and books, Amazon Australia, said, “We are continuously growing the delivery experience for Australian customers, and our new Print on Demand facility means that we will be able to get millions of paperback titles to customers faster than ever before."

Customers can go onto the Amazon books website, order a book, at a discounted rate, and it will then be printed, finished and delivered to their door.

However local printers are adamant they will still be printing books for publishers and retailers, pointing out they have deals with the publishers, and are able to produce high volume runs much more economically. 

It will be in the smaller publisher and self-published sectors where printers will feel the bigger pinch from Amazon. Highlighting its intentions in this sector, Benham said, “We are excited about the benefits Print on Demand brings to the thousands of Australian self-published authors who have been keenly waiting for the launch of an Australian facility.” In the US the vast majority of self-published books are now printed by Amazon, through its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) arm, formerly known as Create Direct.

Books are a huge part of Amazon, accounting for around 10 per cent of the company's US$108bn a quarter turnover. It is the world's largest book retailer, in local currency terms bringing in revenue of around A$1bn a week. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos - the world's richest man - actually started Amazon as an online bookseller, in his parent's garage 25 years ago.

The company says that the new Australian printing plant, "will see customers have access to millions of books on that will be delivered faster to customers in Australia, as the books will be printed locally.”

Amazon sells three types of books on its website; those from other publishers, those it publishes itself, and those self-published, typically by unknown authors. 

Amazon says its self-publishing service enables authors to publish in both print and digital formats, retain their copyright, get to market fast, distribute globally and earn royalties. Alongside better access to Australian readers through faster delivery of paperback copies of their work, it says KDP authors will also benefit from faster access to proof and author copies.

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