Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Books Media Technology

Blackwell Launches Print-On-Demand Trial In the UK 116

Posted by kdawson
from the watch-out-lulu dept.
krou writes "In Dec. 2006, we discussed the Espresso Book Machine. Well, on April 27 the bookseller Blackwell will launch a three-month trial of the machine in its Charing Cross Road branch in London as a 'print on demand' service for shoppers in an effort 'to consign to history the idea that you can walk into a bookshop and not find the book you want.' When the trial begins, it will be able to print any of some 400,000 titles; Blackwell's overall goal is to extend this to a million titles by the summer, and to spread out more machines to the rest of its sixty stores once it works out pricing. Currently, they charge shelf price for in-print books, and 10 pence per page for those out of print (about $55 for a 300-page book), but are analyzing customer behavior to get a better pricing model. Says Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings: 'This could change bookselling fundamentally. It's giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon ... I like to think of it as the revitalization of the local bookshop industry.' Their website notes that in addition to getting books printed in-store, in future you will be able to order titles via their site. (They also mention that one of the titles you can print is the 1915 Oxford Poetry Book, which includes one of Tolkien's first poems, 'Goblin's Feet.')" You'll also be able to bring in your own book to print — two PDF files, one for the book block and one for the cover.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Blackwell Launches Print-On-Demand Trial In the UK

Comments Filter:
  • Royalties (Score:5, Funny)

    by allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @07:17PM (#27717011) Homepage Journal
    How long before publishers demand a ever increasing amount of fees for this service? They already have problems with the idea of digital distribution.
    • Re:Royalties (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ResidntGeek (772730) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @07:32PM (#27717105) Journal
      ... because of the copying issue, yes? These books are printed. You can't distribute them digitally.
      • by pmarini (989354)
        so, is this a new form of art (printing self-service) and as such requires a totally new copyright term from the time of printing?
        how is this different from taking a picture of copyrighted material out in the open?
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Copyright is holding back progress as per usual.

  • I've always had trouble getting decent(ly priced) copies of old philosophy books and this would help me a great deal. I just wish they were testing this in the US...
  • by Meneguzzi (935620) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @07:45PM (#27717165) Homepage Journal
    At least as far as independent publishing of books goes, there is something sort of similar. I found that out when I was trying to find a place to print my thesis. This service called Lulu www.lulu.com [lulu.com] which would print your PDF file as a book and also put it up for sale on Amazon (ISBN and all). Now, when I get the corrections from my examiners I do plan to put my thesis at Amazon (just to see how many people would pay to get a hard copy of my research), even if I make the PDF freely available on my website.
    • by blackest_k (761565) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:13PM (#27717321) Homepage Journal

      Lulu does a reasonable job, and it's pretty cheap too, unlike most vanity printing you can order as few or as many as you like. I've seen someones book full of old photo's and text while the photo quality wasn't perfect. It's nice to see you can get a minimum order of 1 at a competitive price.

      • Technically, though, they're just a printer and bookseller, aren't they? A traditional publisher is also meant to publicise them and make sure they sell reasonably well (even though the cut for the author is far smaller.)

    • by pmarini (989354)
      already been done: Free PDF, buy the book [ubuntupocketguide.com]
      I wonder who decides what I can do with the PDF obtained legally and for free, can I distribute it at no fee? can I print it myself? can I feed it to my dog?
      • by jonbryce (703250)

        The licence on the front of the pdf says what you can do.

        You can distribute the pdf at no fee. You can print it yourself, you can feed it to your dog. You can't sell copies to other people. So it doesn't meet RMS's definition of free.

  • Cost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zxjio (1475207) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @07:48PM (#27717185)
    Is fifteen cents per page a normal on-demand charge? Books with nothing special about them will cost a few dollars to print conventionally. Blackwell's costs are higher I'm sure and they have the retail share as well. But still, $55 for a book that might otherwise retail for $10-15?
    • Re:Cost (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:02PM (#27717259) Homepage
      I wonder about the quality of the printing here too. If they print on demand, are they basically like spitting the book out of a laser printer? Are the books bound like a book you would buy off the shelf? What is the paper like. How long do you have to stand there while they print out your 300 pages? For out of print books, it might make a little sense, as there may be no other way to get the book, but for stuff you can still find on the shelf, I think this wouldn't be a good option.
      • Re:Cost (Score:5, Informative)

        by GKThursday (952030) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:14PM (#27717327)
        There are some sheetfed digital presses that can print out finished bookblocks at 150+ppm. The quality is pretty close to Offset Lithography for text, the only truly noticeable difference is the slightly raised text (toner sits on top of the page, ink goes into it.) The cost to the producer is probably about $0.009 per impression or less (not including paper, which I can't comment on.)
        I don't know what this company is using, but my company does some print on demand for clients, mainly manuals and training material.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MoonBuggy (611105)

        I'm sure there will be a rush of Slashdotters going to Blackwell use this thing on Monday, so you'll probably be told soon enough. I quite like the idea of having a copy of I, Robot printed on demand by an automated machine, come to think of it.

      • From the TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

        by denzacar (181829) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:45PM (#27717497) Journal

        Our first attempt to print a book was not entirely successful.
        The Times's choice - from a rather limited list, the full catalogue not being available until next week - was a 1919 volume called Heroes of Aviation, a book of stirring tales of such First World War flying aces as Albert Ball and someone called Georges Guynemer The Miraculous, which was unavailable for more than half a century until it was revived by an online publisher.

        Thor Sigvaldason, co-founder of On Demand Books, the people behind the machine, clicked a mouse and it started making whirry, photocopier-like noises.
        Laser-printed pages started flying out from the first half of the machine into the second, where the book is made.
        It was clamped, glued, stuck to the cover, cut to size and spewed out of a letterbox-sized slot in the side of the machine - where it promptly fell apart.

        "Things do happen," said Mr Sigvaldason, phlegmatically. "It is actually perfectly bound. It just doesn't have a cover."

        Another attempt and, after 13 minutes - rather slow, but then there was a pause to empty the wastepaper box - a perfect, warm and rather industrial-smelling copy of Heroes of Aviation was in my hands, mint-fresh and looking just like a real book.
        Which it was.

        From the description of the process above - my (educated) guess is that the only real problem might be with the binding of the covers.
        Mainly related to the number of pages. Below the certain number of pages there is probably not enough surface for glue to catch on that fast.
        Even if it is a very fast binding glue, and there is enough surface to bind to - if the machine is meant to operate akin to a photocopier (quick and dirty) things like loose covers are bound to happen.

        • Re:From the TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:29AM (#27718607) Homepage

          Well, that's the problem with perfect binding. It doesn't handle thin books too well, and it doesn't handle thick books to well either. It's only advantage is that it's fast and cheap.

          • You mean "the problem with glue binding". Real perfect binding - individual sections attached to the backing which is then bound into the cover - is neither fast nor cheap, but it is durable. PU burst binding for paperbacks is quite durable and not too expensive.

            This isn't a quibble. With some serious investment, a one off machine could doubtless be made to saddle stitch sections and then burst bind them, producing a book that would last long enough to be worth 15c/page. There's a chicken and egg issue here

            • You mean "the problem with glue binding". Real perfect binding - individual sections attached to the backing which is then bound into the cover - is neither fast nor cheap, but it is durable.

              No, I mean the problem with perfect binding, which is individual sheets glued into a cover. What you describe as 'real perfect binding' doesn't even appear to have a name.

              PU burst binding for paperbacks is quite durable and not too expensive.

              Burst binding is more expensive than perfect binding because o

              • by Garwulf (708651)

                "No, I mean the problem with perfect binding, which is individual sheets glued into a cover. What you describe as 'real perfect binding' doesn't even appear to have a name."

                Actually, it does - it's called a sewn binding.

                • Had he mentioned sewing, you'd have a point. Even so 'sewn binding' describes a family of bindings (only some of which resemble his vague description, not a single specific binding.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 42forty-two42 (532340)

        How long do you have to stand there while they print out your 300 pages?

        About three minutes [youtube.com]

      • But what does it matter if it is out of print, paper and ink still costs the same.
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If it's out of print, people would be willing to pay one-off pricing which is much higher than the mass-produced price.

          I know I'd rather live in a world where eclectic works are only 4x as expensive as they would be in-print, vs. a world where you really can't get them at any price.

      • by pmarini (989354)
        the paper is manufactured with nanoparticles while the laser warms-up before printing
        (yes, it's a joke)
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by jonbryce (703250)

        TFA says it takes about 5 minutes. It does bind the books, whether that is some sort of spiral comb binding or proper book binding, I don't know.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        This was on BBC London news (TV) a couple of days ago.

        The print quality seemed to be normal -- it's hard to tell on TV, but it didn't look crap. The binding was good too, like a normal book. It took about 5 minutes to make the 300 page book.

        Unless you need book urgently, I don't think anyone would print an in-print book on this.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Either they're making a big loss on in-print books, or the £0.10/page charge for out-of-print ones is pretty steep. The summary says that they charge cover price for books that are currently available in normal, ready printed format on the shelves - I pointed out in a post [slashdot.org] below that that works out to about £0.02/page for books that are currently available on the shelves (admittedly calculated using one data point because it was within arm's reach). I understand charging a small prem

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Lighting Source (http://www.lightningsource.com) charges 1.5 cents per page plus 90 cents for the cover. They're the biggest US print-on-demand printer. A 300-page book would thus cost $5.40 to print. Normal industry rule-of-thumb is for retail price to be 5x the printing cost (retailer and wholesaler markup, royalties, risk, profit, etc.), or $27. Don't know why Blackwell's price is 2x this.
    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      there is a book I am looking to buy, originally retailed for $14 that is only available online used for about $80, so being 160 pages it should cost something like $30 from this service. I would be thrilled if it became available this way.
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      For normal commercial printing, it costs a lot of money to print the first copy, and pretty much the cost of paper and ink for any subsequent copies, so it is very cheap to print large runs of popular books, and not at all cheap to print small runs.

      This machine will print the first copy a lot cheaper, but subsequent copies will cost the same as the first copy, so it is much more suited to print on demand.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      But still, $55 for a book that might otherwise retail for $10-15?

      Blackwell is an academic publisher, whose main customer in many fields is university libraries and not the average reader. $55 is a bargain for some of their books. It's not usual to have to pay hundreds for a Blackwell title.

  • 10p per page is too dear. A lot of the books I am after are ~1000 pages, that's £100 (~$150), between 2p & 5p per page is a lot more affordable.
    • by avm (660)

      It would seem logical to start out as if printing a one-off (such as another poster's thesis, for example), and modify the pricing structure for frequently-requested titles. Or maybe not, as its resembling a book version of a photo printing kiosk.

      As for the price in general, it probably has a lot to do with economies of scale. A run of one is bound to cost more per copy than a run of 500.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        I thought the whole point of the machine is that everything is effectively a one off - the cost per page of printing any book in the database is the same.

        The summary says the price of books that are currently in-print is the same as taking one off the shelf - less than £10 for a lot of titles (for example the closest book to hand on my desk, Dune, is 604 pages and has a cover price of £7.99). I couldn't see what paper size the machine uses, so even giving them the benefit of the doub

        • by Wodin (33658)

          I agree. 4 pence is about what I was thinking was reasonable too (based on how much that works out to for a 300 page book converted into my currency.)

          More than about 5p and I'd more than likely do without. Especially if the quality is poor.

        • by Plunky (929104)

          I thought the whole point of the machine is that everything is effectively a one off - the cost per page of printing any book in the database is the same.

          Exactly, and what is the difference between 'out of print' and 'in print'? Its only that the publisher chooses to invest some money in printing a bunch of copies and still had them in stock. If they can keep all their books in PDF format and have hardcopies produced as required (either from a distributor or at the bookshop directly), what is the advantage

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      > 10 pence per page for those out of print

      I'm not sure "out of print" is the right terminology here.

    • Yet many of my ~200 page books for college cost well over $100, making it about $0.50 per page. Besides, it's a price that would likely be worth it for many, especially so for a short. Heck, this is cheaper than many of the used books that are 1/2 or 1/4 the price. And yes, I know that college textbooks are already ridiculously expensive, but that's a different story.
  • $55? (Score:4, Informative)

    by hairykrishna (740240) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @07:59PM (#27717233)

    That's a crazy price. My uni's print shop will do it for less than that, hardback, and they have an actual human gluing it together. I know because I've done it with an out of print text book that the author was kind enough to provide me with a pdf of.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Imagine having authors kindly willing to give you 400,000 PDFs of their books, and you'll imagine how ridiculous your assertion sounds :) Even more ridiculous when they get 1,000,000 PDFs rolling by the summer. Printing to demand is not the killer point here - it's the choice you get. Your uni's print shop, as great as I'm sure it is, doesn't even come close.
  • "They also mention that one of the titles you can print is the 1915 Oxford Poetry Book, which includes one of Tolkien's first poems, 'Goblin's Feet."

    If it's from 1915 it would be in the public domain, so why would anyone buy it instead of just printing one themselves??
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Quality of the print job. Quality of the binding. Removal of the hassle of the do-it-yourself job. Setup costs. Cost of the paper (cheaper in the oh-my-god number of reams than in single reams). Cost of the toner. Cost of the glue.

      There's a few reasons for you, off the top of my head.

      Print on demand has come a very long way; I would dearly love to have the ability to walk into a bookstore and say, "I want the title X by author Y", and walk out five minutes later with it in hand. No more out of print titles,

      • by shaitand (626655)

        If its an automated print system the quality of print job and binding is going to be on par with what you'd get by having staples print you up a copy of your public domain book. Especially if you printed it out on your laser printer and just brought it to them for binding.

        I did this with about 10 advanced dungeons and dragons 1st edition manuals. They are great.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Opyros (1153335)
      Or simply viewing it online [blogspot.com].
    • GOBLIN FEET

      I am off down the road
      Where the fairy lanterns glowed
      And the little pretty flitter-mice are flying
      A slender band of gray
      It runs creepily away
      And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing.
      The air is full of wings,
      And of blundery beetle-things
      That warn you with their whirring and their humming.
      O! I hear the tiny horns
      Of enchanged leprechauns
      And the padded feet of many gnomes a-coming!
      O! the lights! o! the gleams! O! the little twinkly sounds!
      O! the rustle of their noiseless little robes!
      O! the echo

  • by line-bundle (235965) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:03PM (#27717265) Homepage Journal

    In my experience the print-on-demand books are very low quality. It hurts me when I pay over US$100 for a book and get a print-on-demand (Springer.... I'm looking at you). If only they were upfront about it.

    • Early Adopter discussion point.

      At this moment sure, the quality may be a little shaky, but then someone will come out with the "Second Edition" or such. Conceptually, the bookstore will then display random things, but be able to wheel out a copy of Edward Gibbon's '...Roman Empire' say in half an hour over lunch.

  • 10 Years Behind (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Roblimo (357) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:06PM (#27717287) Homepage Journal

    We've had the technology for in-store print on demand for at least a decade. Darn near every bookstore should be able to print you a copy of darn near every book in its catalog in a few minutes. The fact that this is not already common (at $10 or less per 300 pages) is due to stupid business decisions all through the publishing chain, not to lack of technology.

    And at least 20 years ago a woman I knew who had a fairly large (and quite nice) butt wondered why we didn't have semi-automated make-to-order clothing stores in every mall, where someone like her would look at a style sample, say, "I'll take that style in fabric #402," and have them either measure her on the spot or used her measurements they already had on file, and make her exactly what she wanted, in a size that fit *her* body instead of an arbitrary measurement.

    This was all technically feasible, including the beeper you'd carry around the mall while you did your other shopping, that would alert you when your new slacks were ready at the "Pants That Fit" store.

    If nothing else, make or print to order gets rid of the remainder problem that plagues both book publishers and clothing manufacturers.

    • Re:10 Years Behind (Score:5, Insightful)

      by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity.yahoo@com> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:21PM (#27717377) Homepage

      Seamstress work is still very much a manual process. There's a reason most clothing is manufactured in Mexico, Thailand, etc. Labor is a huge cost in clothes and I don't see that going away any time soon.

      Books are entirely different, as the printing process requires little to no manual labor comparatively.

      • Re:10 Years Behind (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Roblimo (357) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:20PM (#27718217) Homepage Journal

        At the time we ran costs for semi-custom women's pants, we were looking at fully-automated pattern cutting and partially-automated (guided) sewing using CAD-type tools that became common in the sailmaking business more than 20 years ago.

        Yes, there's still skilled tailoring/finishing work needed, but in return for paying for that at U.S. labor rates, you never have overstock sales for sizes or patterns that didn't sell well that season. nor do you have shipping costs for finished goods, which need to be treated far more gently than bolts of cloth.

        The total cost of semi-custom finished pieces came out fairly close to the total cost of a pair of women's slacks made in the Mexican maquiladora zone near Nogales, once you figured in the cost of unsold merch, which is HUGE in the clothing biz -- especially in women's clothing with its constant style changes.

        • by EdIII (1114411) * on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:41PM (#27718357)

          At the time we ran costs for semi-custom women's pants, we were looking at fully-automated pattern cutting and partially-automated (guided) sewing using CAD-type tools that became common in the sailmaking business more than 20 years ago.

          Yeahhhh. I would not let the women know that the technology you are using to make their pants is the same technology used to make sails for boats. It might not be received well.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by downix (84795)

            Why not, as the denim used in blue jeans is the same material also used in sailcloth.

            • In normal logic, you're 100% correct.

              In female logic, "are you saying by butt is as big as a boat? I saw you eying up that blonde at the supermarket! MY MOTHER WAS RIGHT, YOU'RE A RAT!!!"

        • BUT (Score:3, Insightful)

          You also got the costs of storing all those bolts of cloth that need to either fed into the machine by a human being or have a HUGE system for all the various types and colors.

          Sorry, but paperback style books that use 2 types of paper and 1 type of glue are feasable. Cloths that use all kinds of different materials are not, unless you want to be the one to tell the average woman she is going to wear the exact same materials as everyone else. Just check, how many people even have the same buttons on their j

    • Digital copiers and printers cost a fair sum of money. Binders, cutter etc. also.
      Add to that the fact that you would need either very educated customers who would bring you a properly formatted PDF file each time (pure science fiction) or very educated employees who would be able to reformat the book in minutes to the customers satisfaction (also science fiction).

      You could churn out sub-par quality books (think taking Word files formatted on one PC-printer combo to another PC-printer combo) OR you could hav

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Add to that the fact that you would need either very educated customers who would bring you a properly formatted PDF file each time (pure science fiction) or very educated employees who would be able to reformat the book in minutes to the customers satisfaction (also science fiction).

        Uh... I understood that the PUBLISHER will be supplying the PDF file in Blackwell's business model.

        • by denzacar (181829)

          I was referring to the parent post that says we should have had that 10 years ago.

          If publisher provided print-ready PDFs - that is another story. But again - they would only have those for the books still in print.
          Out of print books would have to go through the whole pre-print process - and that costs time, money and man-hours.
          If the original book does not fit the printable size - you might have to go all the way back to text input through OCR or typing it in. Then corrections, layout, more corrections...
          An

          • by shaitand (626655)

            'If publisher provided print-ready PDFs - that is another story. But again - they would only have those for the books still in print.'

            Today. But next year you'd already have the pdfs from the books that went out last year.

            As for bringing your own pdf's, you can do that already. Just go to staples, they will print and bind anything you want.

            • by Roblimo (357)

              I was thinking in terms of professionally-published books where the prep work has already been done, not $10 for a one-off 300 page book including design and other pre-press work.

              Returns -- remainders -- are a huge drag on both the publishing industry and on authors. Look at the royalty statements for the next book you write for a major publisher. Sure, there may be huge bookstore orders when it comes out, but even if your book sells well in some stores, it's inevitable that other retailers stocked too many

    • by bit01 (644603)

      This was all technically feasible

      Cloth is soft. Robots have trouble with soft objects.

      Little research has been done in this area so by hand is currently the only viable option and that's comparatively expensive.

      Robot/machine manipulation of soft objects would be a fertile research area to get into.

      ---

      Copyrights and patents are privileges, not rights.

      • Robot/machine manipulation of soft objects would be a fertile research area to get into.

        *eyebrow raise*

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      We've had the technology for in-store print on demand for at least a decade.

      Sure, but the problem is the machinery is very expensive (which means the books are expensive on a per copy basis), the quality of the print is mediocre, and the quality of the binding is at best mediocre. I.E. having the technology to produce a product is meaningless when the price and quality are so badly mismatched, and there isn't significant demand to start with.

      The fact that this is not already common (at $10

    • So why would I need Blackwell?

    • Sorry man, you're just frigging ignorant. A magical machine that would spit out clothes ready made to order? And who's going to make this machine? Willy Wonka's factory? You can't make clothes with machines. Why do you think garments are outsourced to low-cost labor countries like China? It takes manual labor. Custom tailoring is EXPENSIVE, and it's expensive because of the labor. "I'll take that style in fabric #402" is actually a huge deal, even when you're next to one of the biggest garment capta
      • by Roblimo (357)

        Perhaps I'm ignorant, but I have never suggested a "magic machine," nor did I sit in a cubicle instead of getting out and doing real research into manufacturing processes. Some parts of clothing production can be automated easily, some are not. I looked at what could be mechanized, and, as I said, I knew there would still be a fair amount of hand labor involved. My then-partner saw a market for good-fitting clothes and wanted to know if it was feasible to do. The answer was "yes" when transportation, and th

  • for most books, in print our out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shaitand (626655)

      $55 is too much for ANY book. Unless its for a rare collectors copy or some such.

    • And this is in addition to what is already cost, how is this supposed to make indie book sellers be able to compete? you could order the book and have t delivered to your house for less then that.
      • And this is in addition to what is already cost

        Perhaps I'm very bad at reading comprehension or maths, or I have a distorted view of current Sterling/Dollar exchange rates.

        Can you explain the source of my confusion by providing something that supports your assertion?

        • That is just how i read the post, maybe it is not in addition. But then their would most likely be some type of minimum number of pages a book before they could sell it for = or greater to the original price.
  • My old university [ualberta.ca] bookstore was one of the first places to get one of these machines, and the sales pitch was that it would be cheaper to get some textbooks from the machine than off of the shelf.

    I left before I got a chance to see if that was the case, but people were excited about it.
  • by hwyhobo (1420503) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:12PM (#27717593)

    I like to think of it as the revitalization of the local bookshop industry

    Sorry, it's more like a desperate attempt to cling to the old sales model. You have to switch gears to accommodate the future - electronic books. That means no paper printing at all. Anyone who plans to build a long-lasting business by clinging to the past in the face of a technological revolution will have an uphill battle ahead of them.

    • Book piracet never really took off like music/video piracy because paper books are actually worth something. OK ive never used a kindle, perhaps the reading experince is as good (possibly even slightly better than a real book) but i doubt it could take the beating i give my book, i can't share books (unless my friends also have kindles), I couldn't take books out with me drinking (for the tube journey there ofc, im not a complete looser). Sure the publishers are as bad as the record labels these days,

    • by shaitand (626655)

      I'm not sure I entirely agree. At least not anytime soon. I use plenty of digital books and materials but they aren't a total substitute for a printed book that i can carry, abuse, flip through pages, and don't strain my eyes nearly so much.

      Besides, printed books smell good.

    • by MadamMem (1379189)
      You are assuming that most consumers want to read their books online. I don't.
      • by hwyhobo (1420503)
        I wrote nothing about reading online. Electronic book readers (truly better than the current crop) and ultralight laptops are coming. Paper book will go the way of a film camera.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Garwulf (708651)

      "Sorry, it's more like a desperate attempt to cling to the old sales model. You have to switch gears to accommodate the future - electronic books. That means no paper printing at all. Anyone who plans to build a long-lasting business by clinging to the past in the face of a technological revolution will have an uphill battle ahead of them."

      I always love this argument...particularly since not only was I there and an active participant for the first e-book revolution, but I also make a point of keeping up wit

      • by hwyhobo (1420503)

        eBooks are not doing too well because technology is still crude. Like with so many other inventions that kept percolating until the time was right and then exploded, so will eBooks. Taking the world by storm from launch is not how technology works. It has to develop to the point where it is truly useful to Mr. Joe Consumer, and the price has to drop appropriately. And when it does...

        We are getting close. I can feel it, I can smell it. I would not bet against it.

        Remember when vinyl disappeared from music sto

        • by Garwulf (708651)

          On the contrary, as I recall, CDs didn't linger for a decade while the market made up its mind. DVDs wiped out the video tape within about five years of their introduction. The market is not wishy-washy, nor is it sentimental. People just don't as rule consume books in a way that makes the e-book serious competition.

          Let me put it this way - for the last five years, you could read e-books on computers, PDAs, and cell phones, not to mention e-book readers. The technology has been ready for years. It wasn

    • When I can have a display with the kindle's quality and size, and also highlight/underline text and make annotations in the margins on the side, top, and bottom.... let me know. Until then, I will stick with my paper books.
      • by hwyhobo (1420503)
        It's just a matter of programming, not even any dramatically new hardware. Word can do what you want today in reviewing mode. Adding such capabilities to Kindle should not be nuclear science. It will happen.
  • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:29PM (#27717709)

    While I'd consider this great for text books and manuals, is anybody ever that desperate to get a fiction book that may take weeks, that they can't wait a day? Almost every interdependent bookshop I know will take a day to get any book I can think of in a day (two if i turn up after their last phone call to HQ), at no extra charge (hell I've even messed up and ordered a book that it turned out I didn't buy and still didn't have to pay a thing), £23.40 is a bit much for foundation (RRP £6.99) and £41 for dune is defiantly excessive.

    • by shaitand (626655)

      'is anybody ever that desperate to get a fiction book that may take weeks'

      I think you have that backwards. I don't know when a manual or text book couldn't wait another day (except maybe a special circumstance like a late class switch in college) but the good fiction books I pre-order from whoever lets the book slip first upon release. The release of the Last Harry Potter book resulted in actual beatings and the stores were guarded by police anticipating problems.

      I don't know about others but a GOOD fiction

    • by MadamMem (1379189)
      Have you ever worked in a bookstore or watched customers interacting with the salespeople? People who come in looking for a specific book want it NOW (they are usually not very nice if they don't find it or can't buy it right NOW too).
  • This will relegate the bookstore to the status of the stupid $0.25 bucking horse ride in the mall square... err maybe those are $1 these days. In any case, I'm not saying it isn't a good thing but this has the potential to crush both the independents and Barnes and Noble. Who wants to deal with lines and people when you can get anything you want out of a vending machine?

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      it won't crush them, it'll push prices down a ways but not real bad, publishers have a huge scale advantage and can turn out higher quality for less.

      i can see this giving rare book dealers fits though, especially if they modify their process for higher quality and higher cost. picking up a rare book for $150 instead of hundreds or thousands, and reducing the difficulty in finding a copy to zero.
    • The trouble with vending machines is that you can't sample what you want. A big part of book buying for some people is browsing through what's available, reading a chapter or two. Vending machines could work well for the latest in-demand bestseller, but for browsing, they'd be a bit rubbish.

  • Goblin Feet (Score:2, Informative)

    http://www.ladyaleta.com/aleta/tolkien.htm [ladyaleta.com]

    Much faster than waiting for the book to print.
  • DVD's too (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AndyCanfield (700565)
    Wonderful! I can hardly wait until the DVD stores grab this idea! Here in Thailand, legal CD/DVD stores have a hundred titles, and pirate shops have thousands! You can never find what you want in the legal shops.
    • A machine has arrived at my local cinema that does this. I'm not sure if it prints a sleeve though. It even has fairly reasonable prices for new and popular titles, but it can't compete with the new wave of bargain bucket titles that are emerging in our supermarkets for £3-5 ($5-8).

  • This is just a covert operation to get computer generated books accepted by the public. This was predicted by Roald Dahl [wikipedia.org].

  • I thought that the Amazon Kindle did away with any reason to travel to the book store. I can get on amazon.com, search for any popular book, and download it straight to my device in a matter of minutes. It takes up no space, is easy to read, hard to scratch, and can read the books to me when I'm driving.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

Working...