Friday, August 27, 2010

Espresso Books?

By Lonnie Cruse

I keep hearing that someday in the not-too-distant future, book stores will have an espresso-like machine that will spit out a copy of whatever book you want to buy. No more warehouses storing tons of books that cost lots of trees to produce. No more shelf after shelf of books to browse through. No waiting for a book ordered to come in. Instant books. Sounds good to me.

But I wonder, how WILL we browse through books? Look at covers? Read the first chapter? Read the back or inside flap?

Will the store have a copy of each book for us to look at? Or will we have to choose from a computer screen without being able to physically examine the book? (Okay, we often do that now by buying online, but I don't know if I can survive in a world with NO books available in a book store. I'm a touchy/feely kind of person.)

Of course, with this new technology, there will still be trees used for books, and books once used that have to be dealt with (forever stored/shelved as a keeper, donated, swapped, given away, trashed, whatever. Such hard choices.)

No idea if these books will cost more, though I suspect they will, at least in the beginning. No idea if this new technology will catch on, but I suspect it will, as well. No idea if we will see it here in rural America, likely we'll be some of the last. But it's an idea whose time has probably come. I'm waiting to see what will happen. Yes, I'll definitely try it.

What about you? Interested in this type of technology? Not interested? Waiting patiently? Running in the other direction? And have you heard any rumors about it that go beyond what I've blogged about? Let us know!


Anonymous said...

Don't we already have that in a way with print-on-demand publishing?

Sheila Connolly said...

Funny how the term "browser" has changed in recent years.

There is one related technology item that I applaud. Google makes available many old books now in the public domain, as PDFs. As a genealogist I find this wonderful, but I don't always want to spend even more time sitting and staring at my computer screen--and some of those wonderful old local history books are as long as 800 pages!

But one can have them printed out at certain stores--I recently found one and ordered a copy of a book that was published by my great-great-grandfather!

Since this book is a century out of print, finding a copy at all, much less one I could afford, is unlikely, so I am grateful to have the option of printing it out.

But in general I would agree with you, Lonnie--picking up a book, seeing the cover and the blurbs, leafing through a few pages, is an entirely different experience, and I'd hate to see it disappear.

Sandra Parshall said...

The real question is how long bookstores will continue to exist. Even the big chains are being driven out of business by the trend toward online buying. Clearly many book buyers don't need the browsing experience -- they want the convenience of quickly purchasing online and having the book delivered to their homes in 3-4 days. Maybe libraries will install espresso book machines after all the bookstores disappear. Or maybe we'll be able to print quickie books at the hardware store.

lil Gluckstern said...

I am so out of the loop on this one. I LIKE browsing, I like being able to read a little before I buy, borrow from the library, etc. and I don't want to read a book only in small format. I tried reading online. and it was just too hurky jurky for me. So what are we going to do? I wonder if this is not one of those things that develops a life and impetus of its own. But things do look bleak for book stores. Some of us don't want it to change, but I hope we will still have a choice for a few years yet.