Friday, December 31, 2004

The Future of Books

James Epstein, suggests an interesting business model for a print-on demand service that might use a kiosk-like infrastructure to allow users to select the book they would like, pay for it, and have a print-on-demand copy within a couple minutes...
excerpt: At Marsh’s workshop we watched a machine, about two-and-a-half meters long and half as high, receive a digital file, adjust itself to the dimensions of the desired book, and transmit the file to a duplex printer. The printed pages were then gathered and bound within a cover produced by a separate, four-color printer. The entire automatic process took about two minutes. The bound, 256-page book was next conveyed to a trimmer and finished, all without an operator. It was a transcendent moment.

In the electronic future, everything ever published will be recoverable by searching on Google or sites like it (see “What’s Next for Google?” p. 38). Enthusiasts for any activity under the sun, booksellers, publishers, and eventually authors themselves will post digital files of texts on their sites. At their computers, readers will select books from an infinite library of many languages and transmit them to the nearest book machines, where they will collect the printed books at their convenience.