It's been a while, but Amazon.com
Amazon has announced that it will acquire BookSurge, a provider of print-on-demand services. By providing print on demand, Amazon will be able to get copies of out-of-print books as well as foreign-language titles. The service also lets authors self-publish their works.
It's an interesting time to delve into this arena. Given the democratic nature of the Internet and its ability to provide products and services on an as-needed basis, such a move has probably made sense since the year Amazon.com was born. On the other hand, you can't ignore that it's been suspiciously lacking until now.
Rival Barnes & Noble
Today's press announcement from Amazon echoes those very words. "Thanks to print-on-demand, 'out of print' is out of date." That's a pretty intense deja vu.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with a service that caters to the market for rarity; it's arguably one of the areas in which the Internet excels, given the recommendations that often point users in directions that they would never have found in the bricks-and-mortar world. Beyond the market for out-of-print books, you could argue that vanity publishing, which allows authors to publish for a fee, might be a successful venture, and it would segue well into Amazon's selection of books.
Will Amazon enjoy a particularly robust stream of excess revenue? Although I wouldn't underestimate the zeal of would-be authors to get published or readers on a quest to get an out-of-print book -- or Amazon's power to leverage all parts of its services -- it seems that this will likely be a quiet aside for the Amazonian giant.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.