September 13, 1999

There are some that believe that on-demand printing of books is inevitable. They hold that there is a base of customers who would be happy to download an electronic copy of a book and to read it on a screen.

They just can't find the customers to support this inevitability right now.

Well, I've found them.
They are university students.

I had this epiphany as I watched, from my place of work, a sea of students attempt a number of methods to avoid paying for expensive textbooks: trying the library, trying interlibrary loan, trying to see if the professor put a copy of the textbook on reserve so they could photocopy it.

Any individual who is willing to personally photocopy a 200 page volume just to save money (if you are used to being paid minimum wage, the time spent in the labour of photocopying makes copyright infringement a good deal) is the living embodiment of someone who will suffer quality for quantity in publishing. And what is a photocopier but an on-demand printer?