Monday, July 14, 2008

On demand publishing

I was thinking the other day about the possibility of extending the revolution in book distribution started by Amazon. Amazon still has vast warehouses full of books; the point of Amazon, from a consumer's point of view is the vast choice available, plus the ease and efficiency of their fulfilment. In addition, typesetting and printing technology has evolved to accomodate very short print runs relatively economically (POD). Could the endpoint of these trends be to replace physical warehouses of books with data warehouses? Connect these to flexible printing technology and you get on demand publishing; an Amazon that creates books on demand!

This not only makes economic sense, but also offers fantastic possibilities for comsumer choice; choice of cover, design, form factor, paper quality. Possibly even configurable content (bespoke cookery books with selected recipies, tailor made travel guides, etc.).

One of the possible stumbling blocks on the route to achieving this goal might be rights issues; so why not bootstrap the process with Project Gutenberg?

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