The 'Mr. Coffee' of Bookmaking
“This is definitely a part of the future of book publishing,” he says. “Like the one-hour photo-developing machines, we’ll find these book machines many places, including bookstores, of course, but also drugstores, mall kiosks, and even chain warehouses like Costco. People will access a database of available titles, select the one they want, hit a key, and then finish shopping while their book prints and binds.”
Mettee believes Amazon.com will eventually use book-at-a-time technology for most of its orders, thereby improving the bottom line for publishers by way of lower printing, freight and warehousing costs.
“You have to think of this as a re-supply system and not one particular tool,” Conley says of the range of new technologies coming into play. “You will still have web offset, you will still have centralized digital print for scale, and a distributed inventory-replenishment model [based on some form of localized digital printing]. The platform is far more diverse than what you had five years ago.”