Does publishing have a future?
The March 11, 2010, issue of the New York Review of Books (not yet online) has an article on the future of books and of publishing by Jason Epstein, who knows more than a little about both. He maintains that with the digitizing of books we are witnessing an already irreversible technological shift that is “orders of magnitude greater than the momentous evolution from monkish scriptoria to movable type launched in Gutenberg’s German city of Mainz six centuries ago.” It will, he says, revolutionize what it means to publish a book–and what it means to have one’s book published–and will put many publishers out of business. It holds tremendous promise and tremendous risk.
Epstein himself is one of the developers of what is called the Espresso Book Machine which can supply on demand, on site, and nearly instantly a paperbound copy of a book. You can see a video about it here.