Apparently it’s “Half-Naked Day” here in Charleston. The park below is teeming with half-naked college students, some in bikinis, some in just shorts. Do you know how hard it is to sit in a conference when every time you look out the window, you see half-naked people enjoying the beautiful weather?
Charleston, is it too much to ask that you provide some fake rain so that I can at least pretend like my time wouldn’t be better served rolling in the grass? Which, I might add, smells fantastic!
Um, yes, so, in library news–AHAHAHAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! The library is going to die! No, it’s not. Yes it is. Ahhhhhhhh.
So, same as yesterday. But, like I said yesterday, it appears as if the book is no longer dying, but is instead transforming–what we thought was a coffin was just a chyrsalis. And the book will break free of paper, break into thousands of useful parts so it can be configured and reconfigured and reconfigured some more and then–and this tickled me–reconfigured into books and printed out using Ingram’s Espresso Machine.
I am so excited and intrigued by this I can’t even tell you. Of course, we’ve heard something like this has been coming for a long time, but this is a machine that will have access to all the participating books in Lightning’s database (and let me be clear, that’s all the books that are in Lightning’s database and also choosing to participate in Espresso, not all the books that are in Lightning’s database) and, so, say you go to the library and you’re wanting a copy of A Tale of Two Cities and you go to the shelf and you see it is not there and you go to an electronic edition and you read a little and you’re like “Yes, oh, I so want to read this but it hurts my eyes to stare at the screen that long,” you may see an option that says “Print book?” You hit it and five minutes later you have a perfect-bound, four-color cover, real book.
Now, I’m unclear who will pay for this copy of the book you’ve printed–you would in bookstores obviously, but I don’t know if you or the library would in a library situation and, if so, if you’d have to return it like a library book. I guess I should have thought to ask those questions but I’m sure my sources at Ingram can enlighten me at some point.
But then, the Espresso machine will, in under five minutes, print and bind a book for you, when you want it, but not before.
Here’s the thing I wonder? Why wouldn’t small presses, who usually have tremendous warehouse costs and then tremendous stock costs, chuck the warehouse, ask their designers to keep in mind the medium the book will be printed in, and then get a little office space to use as a virtual warehouse, stick an Espresso Machine in it, hire a person to run and maintain it and ship books out to customers, and NEVER, EVER AGAIN PRINT A REGULAR BOOK UNTIL YOU NEED IT?
Yes, you’d have to have stock of some books–books with pictures, books with color, books larger than 8×11–but the amount of space those books would take up is immensely less than the amount of space you use in a whole warehouse. We’re talking about a couple of rooms in a regular office building as opposed to, well, an actual warehouse.
Mark my words, we’re about to see the return of small publishers actually printing most of their own books. But not until we know for sure we have a customer for them.