Saturday, January 11, 2003

Publishing Industry, Meet The Internet

the publishing industry needs to get their act together and figure out how to use this newfangled interweb thingy, cause there's so much more they could be doing, but for no adequately explained reason aren't.

i was at the mall today, getting more ram put in my powerbook (the apple store had been out when i bought the machine, and they just called me this week to tell me it had come in), and i wandered into barnes and noble while i was waiting for the guy at the apple store's genius bar (who was very helpful by the way, especially considering that i had forgotten my receipt, so he had to dig around in their database to figure out that i had indeed ordered and paid for this) to put in my ram.

i've been reading down and out in the magic kingdom for the last day or so, since it's author is cool enough to have released it under a really cool license that says as long as you give him credit, don't sell it, and don't make derivative works based on it, you can do pretty much whatever the hell you want with it.

unfortunately, despite the fact that he's got it in eight different formats, several of which i can display on my powerbook, i'd still like to have a hard copy version, both because i want him to get some (frighteningly small, but still) money for writing something this cool, and because i happen to like reading hardcopy rather than staring at a computer screen all the time (i know, those of you who know me are laughing your asses off at the idea of me doing something other than staring at a computer screen).

this shouldn't be a big deal, as he's got a publisher, and his book is being sold in bookstores. well, it would be, but it just came out, so i can't get it yet. not at my local barnes and noble, not at borders, not even at amazon (sure, they have a listing for it, but it's not shipping yet).

but in this day and age, i don't see why this should be an issue. the internet archive bookmobile has already shown us that it's cheap and easy to turn machine readable text into books, so why can't my local bookstore have something set up to do this? they download the content (which is what i really care about), turn it into a bound paperback for me, and i pay them. some money goes to them for materials, to pay for the store, some profit, some goes back to the author/publisher/whoever else needs a kickback, and everyone saves because there's this giant fucking infrastructure that prints books, ships books, stores books, and often destroys books when they are no longer wanted by the bookstores, that can simply go away.

i'm positive i am not the first person to think this is a good idea, so what the hell is taking them so long to get it working? hello! this isn't that hard people!

1 comment:

  1. You have brought up a very good criticism/suggestion. The reason bookstores don't have "print on demand" capability is simply the expense. A digital press that can turn out a paperback book in 15 minutes, complete with laminated full-color cover and perfect binding, costs quite a bit. It also takes up about 500 sq. feet. But as the equipment prices comes down and they become more compact, I think it will be a regular thing--and will bring life into the bookstores business. Don't hold your breath though...the price for paperbacks using that process will have to be triple or quadruple the current price.

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