Digital Drops & Analog Shops

The news is chocked full of eReader news these days. Amazon’s dropped the Kindle’s price a whopping $100 from when it was first introduced. Sony’s been ahead of the game with significant price drops on hardware AND on eBook prices. Add to this fracas, brick & mortar giant Barnes & Noble, who promises to announce an eReader all their own before Christmas.
But the real news isn’t about a digital blitzkrieg — it’s about a wholly-analog campaign being waged by none other than mega-tech company Google. Google has been leveraging Project Gutenberg, the digitization of pretty much every out-of-copyright book on the whole friggen planet, in a brand new old-fashioned way. They are going to offer to print any of the works in their catalogue on a portable book-making-printing-press in bookstores across the nation. You want a copy of the Gutenberg’s Bible? Swipe your debit card, then go read something out of the magazine rack for a few minutes. Voila, a book pops out of the machine, warm and fresh like muffins from the oven. Seriously, the books come out warm.

eReaders may be gaining ground and will no doubt replace paper the way pixels replaced silver halide in photography. But that’s a longer way off than the eReader manufacturers want consumers to think. Google’s investment in this printing process displays some savvy marketing skills. After all, the public still wants books and this press prints them on demand. No muss. No fuss. No waiting for an order to come in the mail. What a novel idea – pun intended.