A posting over at TechCrunch highlights an Amazon announcement that is will only be selling print-on-demand books that use their own print-on-demand service BookSurge. Whilst this has implications for today’s other print-on-demand publishers such as Lulu, the true print-on-demand revolution has barely started and when it does Amazon’s old model of selling books will quickly fall down around its ears. Amazon needs to emphasise its publishing side before the online book selling business falls flat.
Personally I am a big fan of the traditional book, and feel that it has many years left in it yet; e-books will continue being the preserve of the geek for the foreseeable future. Whilst buying online has opened up a far wider range of books than was previously available in the local shop, and print-on-demand has increased the number of titles even further, we are currently having to suffer the delivery delay. The real excitement in print-on-demand will be when print-on-demand is available in the local highstreet: order any book you want and collect the printed copy ten minutes later.
Obviously there are numerous hurdles to jump through before print-on-demand comes to a highstreet near you, so it will probably be a few years yet, but I think (and hope) that it will come before the mass adoption of the e-book.