retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Talk about technology engineering a fundamental change in how a particular item - one with a long tradition - is bought and sold....

The Wall Street Journal reports that Harper Collins Publishers has announced that “it would make about 5,000 current paperbacks available to bookstores through On Demand Books LLC's Espresso Book Machine. The desk-sized device can custom print a book in just a few minutes. That means even if a physical copy is not in stock, it's still available almost immediately.

“Though the number of Espresso print-on-demand machines in use in the U.S. is small, the agreement underscores how publishers are rethinking the retail landscape now that Borders Group Inc. is in the final stages of liquidation.

“The hope is that the surviving bookstores will be able to boost revenue by selling titles that they might not have in stock.”

It is an Eye-Opening development.

What is interesting about the Journal story is the fact that a number of retailers seem to see this as a way for them to successfully combat the likes of Amazon.com - almost ignoring the fact that the online retailer is equally capable of having such machines on hand and reducing the number of books it has in its warehouses.

It also is interesting because it points to the way in which industries are adjusting to new competitive realities, adapting technologies in a way that change/shorten supply chains, and potentially changing consumer expectations.

It’s happening in the book industry. It’s happening in pretty much every industry.
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