IDEA #2 – Print-On-Demand Books at Airports


Airports have just become ridiculous. I recently visited my father in NC — it was roughly 7-hours to get from NC to NY. It’s a 12-hour drive. Granted, it wouldn’t have taken 7 hours if there wasn’t a weather delay — luckily I had enough reading to occupy me. But I saw many people wondering what to do — particularly on the flight, they pull out the SkyMall magazine about 3 times during the flight.

A company has setup an iPod vending machine in the Atlanta airport and has reported selling $55,000 gross sales in a month. That’s pretty good.

What if instead of the limited “hits” (best sellers) books that the gift shops stock, you could have any book your heart desired? Wouldn’t it be great if you could use a touch screen kiosk and browse through thousands of books, find one you want, buy it, and within 5 minutes have it printed for immediate reading? Even better, what if you could access your wishlist through this kiosk and quickly select a book you’ve wanted to read, buy it, print it, and read it!

Technology costs are apparently dropping for this technology — but the big problem is the formatting of books. There are so many sizes of books — and if you print a large book on smaller pages, then either the font size needs to reduce, or the book needs to be relaid out to accommodate the new size. The nice thing about print-on-demand though is that you don’t incur inventory/housing costs — you don’t have to over-print (and guess) your demand; and you’re able to offer millions of book titles.

Last I heard, the machines were about $35,000 — but those weren’t built with the intention of being used as a kiosk.

Update: There’s apparently a kiosk that’ll be debuting this year in libraries — carrying 2.5mm titles (1mm of which are English). They claim that within 5 years they’ll be able to reproduce any volume ever printed.