Thursday, February 03, 2005


You'll have to go to Academic Search Premier and pull up the article, but it'll be worth it. I promise. The accession number is 15531050 and that'll take you straight to the article, The Future of Books by Jason Epstein, "who has been around the publishing block (retired Random House editorial director and founder of Anchor Books, New York Review of Books, Library of America, and Readers' Catalog). He provides historical background and describes new frontiers in print-on-demand publishing and what it could do for the industry. Can you imagine a machine like an ATM (8 feet long and 4 feet tall) that can print a 256-page book from a digital file, trim it and finish it with a four-color cover, without operator intervention, in two minutes? It already exists, and Epstein describes his experiences with it -- and indicates that the biggest thing that needs to make the commercial infrastructure happen is the deployment of thousands of such machines. What about libraries, Mr Epstein -- starting with depository libraries? Could GPO provide support so that such a system could be a viable option for patrons who need printed government documents? How could such a system revolutionize Interlibrary Loan? Could we develop ways to support the cost for patrons with a print-and-check-out on demand system, adding the books to our collections once they're returned? Or perhaps buy them back from patrons as a cost-sharing mechanism?"

italicized text quoted from 'lbr a blog about virtual reference for librarians by request'

The thing is, the technology isn't that new, it just hasn't 'caught.' Here's a link to a 2001Business 2.0 article where Epstein is also quoted about the machine. What's it going to take for publishing-on-demand to take off?

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