Platforms and other web-to-print solutions have led customers and printers to think about new industrial strategies: printing on demand and unit printing at the end of Industry 3.0, thanks in particular to the lower cost of technology and digital printing; mass personalisation with the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, which aims to respond to the new behaviours of customers and to the concept of the “long tail” introduced in October 2004 by Chris Anderson (editor of Wired magazine), which aims to offer a large number of niche products (figure 1).
Figure 1 - The Long Tail adapted from Anderson, C. (2012).
Through the "Long Tail" in the case of publishing, for example, publishers have realised that they can now monetise titles often dedicated to niche markets for which, until a few years ago, it was unimaginable to want to print due to such low demand. Thanks to web technology and digital printing, with no stock and no inventory, these on-demand or single books are printed, bound and shipped in response to an order placed and paid for online. It is the volume of all these titles that becomes attractive provided that the costs of these very small series are close to mass printing (figure 2). This concept of the long tail is very often put forward in the case of book markets, but it is also true for magazines, printed objects or textiles, etc.