There was a story in our local paper this morning that promises an interesting future for Print on Demand
It seems that Lulu and HP have produced a print-on-demand machine that looks kind of like a large photocopier. Books uploaded and designed in a special section of Lulu can be printed on the spot with no long waits or shipping costs. Portland State University Bookstore is one of three locations trying out these "publishing machines." Professors can provide tailored text books at a fraction of the usual price, and test out the content before committing to the expense of traditional publishing. A 300page novel will cost around $12; a 100page book with color illustrations around $18... And, if I'm reading the article correctly, real people will really be able to publish there.
Just think, if this takes off; the machines might be installed in Office Depot or Kinkos, making print on demand affordable and immediate. Imagine printing small runs of our books for family and friends without the cost and hassle of postage. And one day, they might be installed in supermarkets, connected to the Lulu store on the internet, giving everyone immediate access to the whole Lulu bookstore... and more...