I’ve been watching the instant print machines for years. The first time I heard of one was about ten years ago. I was really expecting them to take off then well, instantly. With all the other things done instantly (or claimed to be done instantly) or at least quickly they idea that a book that’s either “out of print” or sold out can’t be printed for me in minutes in most bookstores is just insane.
Think about it. You can walk through an airport and find someone just sitting there with a special chair just waiting to give out massages at the oddest hours of the day. You can stream movies to your hand held gaming system or smartphone. Turning your lights and security system on and off from the phone you tuck in your pocket is easy. Heck you can deposit checks where all the ATM does is scan them in and boom, money. All pretty new technology. But a printer and data cable that will sell you a book like it would a bottle of water is not something anyone has gotten behind and pushed?
The tiniest airport bookstore could carry every title on the planet. The mom and pop hip deep in the Bible belt could sell all the things with witches, devils and s-e-x without having to stock them. Small presses from Naked Reader to Musa Publishing could have their books available to everyone. Big publishers who have otherwise brilliant authors who can’t seem to swing a hundred words when they have five thousand to wield could let the story be story length and edit to keep the story internally consistent as much as consistent with their ability to get a half dozen of the finished version of the 100,000 word version on the shelf space instead of half that number of the 215,000 word version.
Best of all for publishers, writers, bookstores, writers and readers the ability of word of mouth to sell books would create a market where it was easier to find good and not simply advertised and available. The ability to have books readily available also means longer series of books, or series with long gaps between volumes would experience less drop off in sales. If a reader introduces their best friend(s) to say Dog and Dragon those friends can immediately buy Dragon’s Ring in whichever format they want.
Accounting irregularities also become a thing that are much harder to explain by simple bad math or lost records. With readers being able to pick the format they want, paperback, trade paper, hard-cover books stand a lower chance of becoming forgotten while someone waits for the format they prefer. This means more sales for everyone. Yes, more money, I’m told that’s a horrible thing and no business should ever seek it. Further proof of my general apostasy.