Lead Story: IN-STORE POD -- DREAM BECOMES REALITY
Blackwell's, a leading British bookseller, will soon start
printing books on demand in its stores while customers wait:
The Espresso Book Machine can store up to 400,000 titles in
digital form, whether or not the books are on the shelves.
Compare this to a "Superstore" with 100,000 to 200,000 books
When a customer requests an EBM title, the device prints a book at
a speed of 40-80 pages per minute while the buyer waits, perhaps
browsing books on the shelves or enjoying a cup of coffee.
This isn't just good business; it has profound implications on
the future of bookselling. Most notably, Blackwell's stores
will be able to offer vast numbers of books that would otherwise
be out-of-print or out-of-stock. This relieves today's unhealthy
pressure to stock only hot new titles -- often at the expense of
books with legitimate literary merit but less commercial appeal.
Until now, POD has relied on a few remote printing facilities
that ship books to stores a day or two after they are ordered.
This is much better than filling warehouses with mountains of
unsold books in the vague hope that someone will buy them --
but it lacks the power of instant gratification afforded by
the EBM's partnership with a major bookseller like Blackwell's.
As early as 1999, when POD was in its infancy, Poynter and
Snow predicted that in-store POD could one day become the
"silver bullet" that combines the best of both worlds: the
huge economic advantage of avoiding unsold inventory, in
combination with instant, in-store availability.
Imagine a world where every worthwhile book ever written
is available in minutes at your local bookstore! This
dream is now an important step closer to real life,
following this possibly historic announcement. FMI: