What book would you print, if you could print what you want on-demand?

I was reading an online news article about a rare book collection on display at Stanford University. The collection includes many historical and rare manuscripts and illustrations from the Age of Enlightenment, a movement of discovery and inquiry over issues in the government and human rights that culminated in the American Revolution. The collection includes authors such as John Milton, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin.
Now, imagine if you or I could walk into that display and request a copy of one of these rare publications and, within minutes, walk out with a newly printed bookstore quality paperback copy in-hand. That would be exciting! I’d hope their on-demand book library would be even more extensive so that, while I’m at it, I may also request some copies of some of the original “The Hardy Boys” books so that I can give them to my nephew and perhaps a rare cookbook about Filipino cuisine for myself.
The idea of printing, binding and trimming bookstore-quality paperbacks in a matter of minutes is intriguing to both consumers and businesses. Consumers can acquire what they want in a matter of minutes, selecting from a catalog of content. Businesses, including bookstores, cafes and university libraries, can find this a unique revenue-building opportunity. Digital printing technology has been developed to enable this business model.
As a consumer, what would you print, if you could print what you want on-demand? As a business, are there other applications you could apply this business model to?

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  1. Ralph Levy February 23, 2011 -

    Seems like this could be an interesting business model for college and university bookstores if textbook publishers would come on-board. Immediate, on-demand updates and no inventory for the bookstores. Students could place orders online, pay, and pick up next day. Same thing for University Press operations with limited interest titles that don’t justify press runs.

  2. Julia February 23, 2011 -

    I’d print the recipes from my food blog – sometimes cooking is so much easier with a cookbook than a laptop in front of you 🙂

  3. John Conley February 23, 2011 -

    This is John Conley and I work for Xerox. You are right on target for where the EBM would work in the University environment. While base line textbooks may not fit because of their specifications ancillary books, scholarly and university press titles work very well in this model and meet the needs of all the constituents, publisher, retailer, professor, and student. The business model of the EBM has a high focus on this area and is constantly adding titles from the principle Higher Education and Academic press publishers to their catalog of titles.

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