Although I wouldn’t start selling off my stocks just yet, new technology applications might add some third-party competition to the retail book business.As reported in the Wired Blog Network, The Espresso Book Printer has the capability to literally *chuckle* print your book selection while you wait. The New York Public Library is field testing a version of the device that offers your choice of about 200,000 open license titles, but successful trials could lead to a much more aggressive marketing stance. Imagine the impact on the high school and especially college textbook selection process.

Having worked in “higher” education once upon a time, I’m fully aware of the tremendous amount of cash publishers spend to reach professors and the limited measures that schools and students have to exert themselves in the free market. I remember crate after crate of freebie desk copies threatening to flood the departmental office.

These unwanted, unsolicited $220 tomes nearly always ended up at the local second hand book store having garnered paltry $3. Who paid the difference? Students and their parents paid. Current students pay for last year’s excesses and the bill just rolls forward.

While the Espresso won’t streamline that portion of the process, it might just be able to reduce publishing and shipping costs. A Newsweek report claims that the machine can, “print the text for a 300-page book, with a color paperback cover—and bind it—in just three minutes and for only a penny per page.” Now if we could just get them to stop changing the colors in the charts and calling their textbooks “new editions.”

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