I’ve been having one discussion after another about the future of books and publishing.
One friend works for a company that will be rolling out print-on-demand paperbacks from a massive digital archive – kind of like an on-site Amazon with no delivery wait or a Barns and Noble that has everything. Cool idea, though I wonder if it removes us another step from one of the things that makes books cool – their all kinda different. Look at your bookshelf. It isn’t a uniform line, is it. However, this machine will make every book identical really, until you open in.
I argue that books will go the way of LP’s – not gone but specialized and collected. Less mass market, more unique. Instead, let’s face it, we’re all going to be doing all of our reading on something digital. Probably not a Kindle, since that’s first-gen hardware if I’ve ever seen it.
SAI has some thoughts on how to help move us into this brave digital age:
“Hardcover books should cost $25. And publishers should keep printing them–for people who want to buy them. Meanwhile, for everyone else, publishers should publish cheap electronic copies for 20% (or less) of the hardcover price.
$4.99 for a first run bestseller, downloadable to your Kindle, PC, or iPod–or simply readable on the Internet. The retailer keeps $1 or so, the author gets $1 or so, and the publisher takes home about $3. Some of that goes to marketing and some to overhead. And then you’re left with the typical publisher profit of less than $1 (no returns, manufacturing, or distribution costs).”
Now we’re cooking with gas.