Thursday, April 03, 2008

On the Future of Publishing

If you are a not so old geezer like me you might remember the PhotoMat a little store out in the parking lot of most supermarkets where you could drop off you roll of film and get them back in 1 day. Now most supermarkets have an automatic developing machine in the store where you can get your photos back in an hour and right next to it is usually a computer for printing out your digital photos in seconds.

Supermarkets usually also have an aisle devoted to books and magazines. Usually limited to the bestsellers and lots of romance fiction. But now with the Espresso Book Machine you would be able to get any book you wanted printed while you shop.
Borders is already in trouble and Amazon is starting up its own print-on-demand (POD) service.

Now it is a race to see if this gets popular enough to compete with purely digital formats. The film companies came out with the APS format film at the same time as digital cameras and now film has moved to a niche status, even Polariod, the original instant gratification camera, has stopped making film and film cameras.

With the Kindle and iPhone it will be interesting to see how the market segments books. The fiercest battle will be for paperback fiction and may never get resolved some people will want a physical book others will be happy with ebooks. Coffee table books will remain real but textbooks and reference works will go electronic.

Cookbooks can be another battle ground, ecookbooks can have different font sizes s you can read it from further away, but there is something special about browsing a cookbook and stumbling on a new recipe. The internet is great for finding something if you already know what you want but not so good when you are not so sure.

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