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Print-on-demand challenges Amazon

BARNES and Noble are planning on upstaging Amazon.com by offering print-on-demand books.

Teaming up with IBM, who will be providing the technology, Barnes and Noble claim they will have print-on-demand operating early next year.

The company sees the new technology as a means of cutting costs and better managing inventory. It also hopes to bite into the ‘specialty’ and ‘out of print’ market.

Rich Troksa, from IBM printing systems said: “The important thing is this – once a book is digitalised, it will never be out of print. You simply go in, say you want a copy and they print one out the same night.”

In a philanthropic statement made last month, vice-chairperson of Barnes and Noble Steve Riggio said of the new venture: “This investment is about giving authors with small voices the loudspeakers they need to get their works published and distributed throughout the world.”

The cost of traditional publishing has meant that many author’s works never get to their intended readership.

Although a small group of consumers maybe interested in such a book, the cost of a print run doesn’t endear publishers to take on these manuscripts.

Riggio points out that print-on-demand technology is “going to open up the market to an enormous amount of content that

hasn’t been able to reach the marketplace.”

He goes on to say: “Many publishers consider a book that sells a few hundred copies a year a liability.

“We see that as an opportunity. Publishers don’t just turn down books because they think the editorial quality isn’t up to scratch – they just don’t see a big enough market for it to justify the cost.”

Barnes and Noble have taken the new digital services to a select group of publishers and, after a test run, they plan to take this technology to the entire publishing community.

The book company claims that there are approximately one million titles out of print and 90,000 disappearing yearly.

Riggio said: “This is an enormous opportunity to make the words ‘out of print’ obsolete, and that’s what we plan to do.”

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