Print-on-demand has the potential to be one of the most important developments in the growth of the digital world by aiding accessibility of books to the public. Soon a book will never be out of print with what’s been described as the ATM for books. The A&R store in Bourke St., Melbourne, is the only one with this option but 50 more such machines will be installed throughtout Australia and NZ. I really like the notion that the ideas, words, etc. in out-of-print, or hard-to-get, books are now readily available.
I also love the feel of the physical book, the smell of the pages, the look of the cover, the sheer tactile nature of (hardback) books. (Yes, I try to by hardback books whenever I can!) I would always choose to by the physical book for these reasons but I can see that the opportunity, to read the words of the many out-of-print manuscripts, is a step forward. Burning the physical book will no longer be enough to stop the communication between author and reader. Many Australian readers like to buy books and/or go to the local library to borrow the physical book, but here is another option that has merit.