Print media will not die. But it definitely must change its ways if it wants to flourish again. This is a problem I've been turning over in my head for quite some time now. I'm not sure I will come up with a solution anytime soon.It seems to be that technical books are one of those things that a lot of people like to have hard copies of, but are bookseller albatrosses. With print-on-demand moving into high gear, I predict that it won't be long before "perishable" media becomes a strictly special-order affair. Albeit a high-speed special order. I envision someone like you or me going into a bookstore in the morning, saying to the clerk, "I need a Longhorn network administration manual," and coming back in the afternoon to a perfectly-bound copy still warm from the press.RIP, Stacey's. I went there one of my last trips to SF. My hotel was just around the corner and I noticed that Bruce Sterling was giving a reading. I got to meet him and get my copy of "The Difference Engine" signed. It was a pretty cool place.
It feels like a lot of the "classic" distribution models are just drying up, but I can't decide if this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, I will be sad to see booksellers go away, and I think it's only a matter of time before the big chains start closing as well. Indies and local shops like Stacey's are the canaries in a very deep, dark coal mine. Aside from the visceral pleasure of a bookstore, though -- especially the smell, mmm -- I haven't bought a new book in ages from one of those places. New books get bought online, but I spend more time checking out the used bookstores these days.
The extinction of independent bookstores is a sad trend. I was utterly shocked to visit Berkeley and see that the incredible Cody's had closed its doors. When a quintessential symbol of Berkeley closes, one has to wonder what will become of all independent bookstores. I'm also now very happy to put a blog with a Flickr photostream! :)
Cody's was struggling for a while, sadly. Another example of local expertise and service eliminated by global access to their products. In the end, I think their proximity to UC Berkeley hurt them when students stopped actually buying books in person (those that still read, anyhow.)
The future is now!http://www.ondemandbooks.com/home.htm
You know, I saw that machine on one of the blogs I'm watching and started salivating almost immediately.
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