Print on Demand

Photo © Judith K. Hackstock

I know a lot of people who swore they would never buy an e-Book. “Why would I want to curl up with a computer to read? I like the feel of real books.”

Many of these same people now carry around their Kindle, or Nook, or i-Pad everywhere they go and, guess what? There are an awful lot of books downloaded on these devices.

Publisher’s Weekly announced that unit sales of print books fell 10.2% in the first six months of 2011. In a survey taken six months earlier, PW found that, among the major formats, e-Book sales across all categories had risen 38.9%.

Is this the demise of printed books?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I used to think print was here to stay. As a writer, and an avid reader, I really, really liked printed books. That was until I ran out of bookshelf space.

Last year alone, I donated 175 hardcover and paperback books to charity, because I no longer had any place to store them, and they were worth more as a donation than I could get for them anywhere else.

I bought a Kindle and was amazed – and delighted – at the 30 novels downloaded onto it for an extended absence from home. Simple and convenient, and astoundingly easy to use, it was a most convincing argument for the death of printed books.

Then I recently read a fascinating blog that told me about a new print-on-demand machine sold by On Demand Books that allows you, for about one cent per page, to print and bind a novel in the time it takes the barista at your favorite coffee house to make your double latte.

Pretty neat. But in all honesty, I still don’t think it will halt the amazing growth of e-Book sales, for the reason I mentioned earlier…space. I have to admit, I like to hold my own books in their paperback versions, but having books stacked three deep on every bookshelf and in packing boxes stacked to the ceiling in the closet is not exactly a decorator’s dream.

Yes, it is remarkably convenient and inexpensive to print a book this way. And, yes, if you really want the feel of that paper book in your hand (and have the space to store it when you’re done) this could be just the thing you’re waiting for. I think it has a future. I’m not sure what it really is just yet. Maybe just for printing those copies of your own book while having coffee with friends?

I’ve been involved in publishing my whole adult life. Digital presses have been around for at least 20 years.

This is an attempt to bring them into the general consumer world. Only time will tell if the concept will work. I’ve been around long enough to know never say never. If it ever catches on, I’m sure I’ll make all my own books available for it. Why not?

But enough of my blathering.

Read the full, fascinating article on Live-Write-Thrive, a blog by my new Twitter friend and author C.S. Larkin … and decide for yourself.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Please Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: