High-volume lithography is used today to produce posters, leaflets, brochures, stationery, maps, books, newspapers, and packaging — just about any smooth, mass-produced item with print and graphics on it. Most books, indeed all types of high-volume text, are now printed using offset lithography
Lithography originally used an image drawn in wax or other oily substance applied to a lithographic stone as the medium to transfer ink to the printed sheet. In modern times, the image is often made of polymer applied to a flexible aluminium plate. The flat surface of the plate or stone is slightly roughened, or etched, and divided into hydrophilic regions that accept a film of water and thereby repel the greasy ink, and hydrophobic regions that repel water and accept ink because the surface tension is higher on the greasier image area which remains dry. The image may be printed directly from the stone or plate (in which case it is reversed from the original image) or may be offset by transfer to a flexible sheet, usually rubber called a blanket, for transfer to the printed article.
This process is different from gravure or intaglio printing where a plate is engraved, etched or stippled to make cavities to contain the printing ink, and in woodblock printing and letterpress where ink is applied to the raised surfaces of letters or images.
Most books, indeed all types of high-volume text, are now printed using offset lithography, the most common form of printing production but digital processes are catching up fast and in some cases ahead.