19 January 2012

[print] Physical Print On Demand At Powell's Books - Best Of Both Worlds?

2763.Just heard the news that Powell's Books is going to have something called an Espresso Book Machine installed at the flagship store.

You've heard of Print-on-Demand, of course. This machine - if I read the story right - will allow you to go online at Powell's Burnside store and have the book printed, finished, and bound for you right there.

And, of course, here's a video of an EBM

I'm conflicted about this, but on balance it might be a good thing. Simply going to Powell's, even if you don't have the money to buy anything just now, is just a invigorating experience; I hate the ideas that book stores may someday go away, if some of the more pessimistic ideas about print are correct. Bookstores are closing nationwide, and Borders, no matter what I thought of them, was a good place to get the mass market stuff.

The idea of combining POD with the Powell's experience has an intriguing side. As long as a book exists in a digital version, this suggests that the idea of a book ever truly being 'out of print' may become somewhat obsolete. That's always been POD's strength - keeping niche books available.

So, POD for books you can't find even at Powell's + Physically visting Powell's may just = a good thing, on the balance.


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