Part of yesterday was spent touring Inter Varsity Press in Chicagoland with one of my favorite theologians. I, for one, believe that the business of publishing books is not toast – if we evolve and embrace change as a glorious adventure rather than a bitter shift. Soon to be gone: warehouses full of books waiting to be shipped off. The trend: Espresso Book Machines?
Espresso Book Machines are amazing. Have you ever looked for a book in a bookstore and they don’t have it but a staffer says, “I can order for you.” And you think, “Much easier to go home and order it on Amazon.” The Espresso Book Machine makes a single published, bound copy for you on the spot. Very cool.
While most people still read hardcover or paperback books, the scales will be shifting so that the majority of people will use Kindles, iPads, Nooks, etc. and the minority will want traditional books. The IVP sage who spent time with us yesterday suggested that maybe the warehouses can be repurposed to house multiple Espresso Book Machines. If somebody wants a classic copy of a classic John Stott book, IVP runs a single copy and sends it out. No need to store lots of copies which may never be ordered.
We already have an assortment of paths in the publishing world. Amanda Hocking self-published several (enormously popular) ebooks and then got a fancy contract with St. Martin’s Press. Tony Jones has several books published via traditional publishers and is now self-publishing digitally. Whatever works.
I increasingly don’t want to lug books around and rarely read a book that’s not on my Kindle – although I was thankful to be given a copy of Amy Sherman’s Kingdom Calling yesterday. Honestly though, I will sometimes turn down offers to be given free paper books.
Have you totally shifted to digital books? Would you buy a paper book if you could sip espresso in a coffee shop while your very own, single copy was being printed and bound by a machine in the corner?
Image is the warehouse at IVP.