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Tech wars: POD vs. ebooks

After a long hiatus, My Helpful Friend sent me an email, this time with links to recent posts about POD in bookstores. The Guardian article was about the Expresso print on demand machine being installed in a London bookstore. Meanwhile, the Expresso's manufacturer posted a page from the Author's Guild Bulletin hailing POD technology as the benefactor of authors, bookstores, and libraries.

Today most POD books are sold via the web from sites like CreateSpace, Lulu, TikaTok, and iUniverse. They compete more with Amazon than with your local bookstore, because the book buyer has to wait for the book to arrive in his mailbox. But putting a POD machine in a bookstore does give small retailers some ammo to compete with mega-chains and Amazon. The Expresso, sometimes called an ATM for books, can spit out a finished product in five minutes. But like an ATM, you can only take out what you're already put in. POD books suffer from the same limitation as ebooks— they don't have every book. Like ebooks, the Expresso offers a huge collection of out-of-copyright classics. The latest bestsellers, not so much. Ebooks have the edge there, and it will be interesting to see these two competing technologies battle it out for the reading public's dollar. If POD can grow its collection fast enough, it might well provide the print book with an edge as it fights to stay viable.







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