Friday, 26 February 2010
Any Pastries with That?
I've only just found out about this - it's an Espresso Book Machine (there's more about it here), and it might soon be replacing a bookshop near you (assuming there are any left). It's a beguiling idea, with the potential to deliver any book you fancy into your hands, printed and bound, in a matter of minutes and at very little cost. It might even mean that authors see a bit more money, but you wouldn't want to count on that. On the other hand, it's surely a move too far along the road already set out by the internet - the availability from somewhere in the wired world, via a few keystrokes, of virtually any book you're likely to want (usually at way below bookshop price). The adventurous realm of epic book searches and serendipitous finds on the shelves of real bookshops is dwindling all the time, as even charity shops become increasingly market-savvy - again largely thanks to the internet. No doubt bookshops will always survive in some form (if only selling second-hand POD book from Espresso machines), but there will surely be even fewer of them. Will most of our future book buying be via a glorified photocopier, with booksellers reduced to the role of baristas? It's not a very cheering thought.