On Sunday, Curtis began a two-part series on his blog e-Reads that he titled "Publishing 3.0: A World Without Inventory." He began by pointing out that the current publishing model, built on the premise of bookstores returning unsold inventory for credit, is unsustainable.
In my post of April 9 here where I offered some future predictions for publishing, I talked about a new "model supported by devices like the Espresso Book Machine where they can quickly and economically print and bind a p-book on demand for a customer (eliminating the onerous publishing industry returns system) ..."
Curtis agrees, saying:
The time has come for publishers to accept the fact, now glaringly apparent to all but those in total denial, that no business enterprise can afford to sell just half or even two-thirds of what it manufactures – and to foot the bill for the return and disposal of the unsold other half.He points out that the print-on-demand technology represented by the Espresso Book Machine will permit the industry to move from a "speculative" model where they print many more books than needed to a "prepaid" model where a book is only printed when an order for it is received ... AND paid for:
Do the math: 30, 40 or 50% returns for the speculative model vs. 0% for the prepaid. Case closed. Or so you would think. Yet traditional publishers cling to the topsy-turvy model of paying a lot of money upfront for books they believe will be hits, then making educated guesses on the size of the audience, then overprinting, then recovering unsold stock and remaindering it or sending it to a pulp mill.Go here to read Part I of Curtis' very interesting and timely post and here to read Part II.