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Thread: machine that prints unfindable book while you wait

  1. #1
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    machine that prints unfindable book while you wait

    My husband and I had a discussion about this and he doesn't understand what is the fuss, so I want to get your opinions about it:

    The BBC triumphantly put on the news tonight that there is now a machine that prints the book you have been looking for for so long, and that while you wait. For 30 pounds per 300 pages, or 10p per page. That is about 35 dollars (?). In former days with a stronger pound it would have been about 45 dollars for 300 pages.

    My idea about that was that that is very expensive. Fine, you have been looking for it for ages and you want to read it, but you can't find it... And there is that machine.

    My husband said that a bottle of wine also gets more expensive with time. He didn't want to listen and got in his usual frame of 'I am right and you don't have a clue'-mind, but my view is this:

    a bottle of wine gets valued for ludicrous amounts despite the wine maybe not being drinkable anymore. Even once the wine is drunk, the bottle is of no value. It is the whole thing together, maybe the idea that it is the same wine that was botlled 50, 70 or 100 years ago. Bottles that are bought by collectors are not bought to drink, and I doubt whether a bottle of 1600 is still worth its money if one wants to drink it...

    If there are any wine-experts among you, then please correct if this is not the case.

    Anyway, books become valuable according to the amount of reprints, signatures in them, famous possessors maybe, first edition, manuscript, rarity. In essence, in my mind, the text in itself, that can be read, is not worth anything. It is sad to say, but why do we pay more for a copy of the first edition than for a brand new one: because it is the first edition, because it is rare, not because it is the text. The text we can get anywhere, even on the internet for free.

    Now that machine: is it worth to pay 30 pounds for 300 pages, bearing in mind that most books have more pages than that, or is it best to wait until you see a copy? I don't think so. My husband found it a great deal. I think it is a very expensive rip-off. What do you think?
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    Ghost in the Machine Michael T's Avatar
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    I recall that on the news they said a large bookstore has around 60,000 titles. This machine should have around 1,000,000 on its database by next year!

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
    I recall that on the news they said a large bookstore has around 60,000 titles. This machine should have around 1,000,000 on its database by next year!
    Most good books are already printed, or exist in a library. Truth be told, unless you are attached to a research centre (University of Toronto system, for instance, has over 10million books, and over 5 million microform items) you probably will not need this machine. That being said, for those who merely want something, they still will be limitted to the books the machine has the right of printing, and still will need to pay a hefty price.

    That being said, good job for the machine owners, bad job for the buyer. Lulu.com will give you a 5Pound text, with 2 going to the copyright owner. But with this machine, the transferring of copyright to a corporation allows for people to spend more on their books. The price is inflated because the supply is controlled to the extent that such a book can only be printed by this machine.

    It's only a matter of time though - sooner or later, the price of texts merely goes down. Vizetelli essentially destroyed lending libraries, and made the English novel possible as a mass commodity. The machine may cost 30pounds a book now, but by the end of it, it will go down to 10 pounds, as all texts shift toward print on demand, rather than massprint runs.

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    biting writer
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    I am not sure I get the point of the device. Things like Google Books will one day eliminate the need for mass print production. Not entirely perhaps, as hard copies are still a form of insurance against digital deterioration, but nevertheless. As to not being able to "find" a title, that is what periodical guides are for. There are some independent press releases that don't get much spamalot play at sites like Goodreads (Jerome Gold's interesting alternate world novel, The Inquisitor, Dubus's collection of essays, Broken Vessels) but there are small and independent press directories and catalogs for those of us who love the industry. I also assume copyright issues would keep obscure titles off of this machine's data base. If I was your husband, I think in would be easier to buy an e-reader like a Kindle, where you can download thousands of titles on the cheap, under retail.
    Last edited by Jozanny; 04-26-2009 at 07:44 AM. Reason: the verb buy

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    Serious business Taliesin's Avatar
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    It's only a matter of time though - sooner or later, the price of texts merely goes down. Vizetelli essentially destroyed lending libraries, and made the English novel possible as a mass commodity. The machine may cost 30pounds a book now, but by the end of it, it will go down to 10 pounds, as all texts shift toward print on demand, rather than massprint runs.
    I am not sure if I understood you correctly, but the libraries in my hometown are functioning quite fine and people do use them. Would you explain what you mean under the destroying of lending libraries? (or perhaps the situation is different in where you live?)
    If you believe even a half of this post, you are severely mistaken.

  6. #6
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Lending libraries were how people read their books in the old days. They would rent books, for money, from lending libraries, who had essentially complete control on what got published. In this way, they ensured a multi-volume format for novels, with very, very wide margins, in order to maximize lending money, and make buying a book - which at the time was more than half a month's wages for some people - an impossibility.

    A book before Vizetelli was, if I remember correctly, going for something like 30 shilling six pence per volume, which was something like 300 or so dollars for a book. Once Vizetelli started pounding out copies, especially of Emile Zola's work, he got the price down to two and a half Shillings, for one-volume texts. This essentially bankrupted lending libraries in the English and commonwealth system, and gave us the book buying habits we have today.

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    Lady of Smilies Nightshade's Avatar
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    eh... actually "the eminent destruction of the library system" also known as "the sleepwalking to disaster effect" is caused by loads of different fators, only one of which is the price of books. I will eventually get round to posting great longdissertations on the subject into my blog, but lets just say chanegs in society and depending on your techno-social view point technology as well as inflation, mismangment,, politics, the rising standard of literacy and education, changes in culture , decreased leisuree time, with correspondingly increased lesiure time options have all participating in the so called death of the lending library. Intresting to note though, as far as I can see from the ex-soviet countries and non english speaking countries seem less affected than english speaking ones, well kind of .... hmmm
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