Public Library Muses, Boston, MA, Early Postcard
Daily Thoughts 5/9/2010
Ebooks and Print On Demand
Happy Mother's Day. Sometimes, you read a blog post which catches your attention.
http://carriagereturn.typepad.com/carriage-return/2010/03/365207-my-digital-manifestothe-future-of-our-publishing-world.html . This post caught my attention because it talks about two trends which are affecting libraries tremendously; the first is print on demand, the second is ebooks.
My understanding is that 30% of books sent to bookstores are returned. I think this changed with print on demand. We are getting a lot more cancellations lately for books which we order. I think this is due to print on demand. Publishers have much tighter control of how many books can get printed with print on demand, they can track the number of books ordered and more closely match print runs with what is being ordered in a more timely manner. This means there can be a much quicker decision about canceling titles and inventory. If there are not enough orders for a book it will be cancelled much quicker than before.
This means a lot less books are kept in inventory. Machines like the Espresso Book Machine can print a trade paperback in four minutes from a digital file. Google Books is partnering with the Espresso Book machine to be able to print and sell books quickly. This includes a huge number of public domain books at a very reasonable price. http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/09/google-books-publish-on-demand/
There is a second thing which is happening, one of the largest distributors for books, Ingram, owns Lightning Source which is the largest print on demand publishing source. Lightning Source has also partnered with Baker and Taylor for distribution. They are now printing to order as people buy the books, the warehouse prints then sends them. It is called Print to Order. This eliminates lots of inventory and saves money for the publisher. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Baker-Taylor-and-Wiley-Ink-prnews-579997220.html?x=0
Print to Order is not just for publishers, libraries and bookstores are putting print on demand stations inside their buildings as well. This is a short article on the growth of print on demand which shows its growth in the last five years 2005-2010 http://www.infotrends-rgi.com/public/Content/INFOSTATS/Articles/2006/09.05.2006.html
The other area which is growing is ebooks. In a way ebooks obscure the growth of print on demand. People are adapting ebooks very rapidly. There was a 307% increase in sales this January over January of last year. http://ereads.com/2010/03/january-10-e-book-sales-almost.html
Just as important is the incredible proliferation of free ebooks and material online. I find myself looking for material on the Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/ for people a lot of time, recommending readers like the Stanza ereader, or Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page, I also sometimes recommend Creative Commons books to read. There are a few titles worth reading in the mix of grand and terrible. http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Books. I don't think the industry is tracking the use of free ebooks. It probably is even more than the books being purchased. I have read a lot of books which I never had to pay for. Groups are making entire free libraries available online like the Baen free library which is a nice sampling of free science fiction books. http://www.baen.com/library/
Both of these technologies are digital, they are not mutually exclusive. I can imagine a world where you can choose whether you want a hardcopy book or an ebook. Books will be born digital much like television is now. This is a Library Journal article which covers the subject. http://ereads.com/2010/03/january-10-e-book-sales-almost.html . I can easily imagine a world where you can walk into a bookstore and have a choice of whether you want your book to be digital or hardcopy. The paperback will not be that much more expensive to buy than the digital download. An example of ths would be a science fiction book I bought recently from Baen Books, Live Free or Die, $6.00 for the ebook, $7.99 for the mass market paperback, or $26.00 for the hardcover.
There still we be hardcovers, but the hardcovers will have features which the cheaper ebooks and paperbacks can't match, very nice pictures, lots of photographs, artwork, quality paper, excellent layout, quality indexing, glossy finishes, and other features which appeal to having and holding a book. They also might be in larger formats, coffee table books still will probably be printed the old way. There will be a lot more specialty books. I haven't found anything which supports this trend other than watching as books come out. The kind of book which I am thinking is books like Teach Yourself Visually series. http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-305624.html
There are other changes as well, the world of reference works is changing completely as well, but this is something for a later collection of thoughts.
I finished reading Soulless An Alexia Tarabotti Novel at the laundromat. You can add romance to Victorian steampunk, werewolf, vampire, supernatural thriller. It was good enough for me to want to read the Second book in the series, Changeless.
I went to Barnes and Nobles today in the shopping mall near my house. I did not buy anything. I did look at a few manga, VIZ media has a series called VIZBIGBOOKS which are compilations of three volumes in one for manga at a discount price. I was looking at Vagabond and Ruruoni Kenshin which are interesting series. There were also a few titles that I noted for future reading.