The Dream: Physical books printed on the spot (and recycled on the spot)

In Twitter this morning, @tatteredcover is asking how many people are moving from paper books to electronic ones.  I own a Kindle, but about 60% of my book buying is still paper.  I love the bookstore experience, and there’s nothing like thumbing through a paper book.  But my house is overflowing with the damn things.

I’ve been thinking for years that the ideal experience would be to have a book printing and recycling machine (the BookBox).  This box would be able to print and bind any book on the spot.  It would also have a slot for inserting used books to be recycled on the spot (composted, or whatever, with zero waste).  Plus maybe a USB port so you could hook up your favorite electronic reader and download a bunch of books before a trip.

In a world where the BookBox exists, there would still be bookstores: cafe + inventory for browsing + BookBox.  You can browse books while sipping an Oolong tea, then place an order to have a book printed on BookBox to take home with you.

3 thoughts on “The Dream: Physical books printed on the spot (and recycled on the spot)

  1. Sorry it took me so long to get to your comment (was expecting wordpress to send me an email notification). I like the idea of affiliate models to keep bookstores alive. That may be counter to market forces in a mostly electronic market, but I like bookstores 🙂 Same goes for record shops, completely agree that would be a cool experience, even though the mobility of content suggests there’s no need for stores. There’s value in the social experience, though.

  2. I enjoy that idea, but do find it hard, especially for hard covers, color graphics, any unusual formats, etc.

    There could be room for affiliate partnerships of traditional book stores with providers of electronic book providers though. If you decide to purchase a book and an electronic version is available for your device, your book seller could give you the option to buy either version.

    How about building something like this for music? You get to listen to individual tracks or entire albums in the store and at checkout your selection (complete CD or a collection of songs) is transferred to CD or USB stick. It’s the atmosphere of a record shop, combined with the experience of an online music store.

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