Archive: technology

Amazon vs. Print-on-Demand

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Apparently Amazon is making moves to drop any POD books not printed by their own BookSurge service. I’m not sure how long this was brewing, but stories are popping up all over.

I can see how this makes sense, from a certain point of view. Asking Amazon, who is now in the POD business, to sell POD books from LuLu (for example) could be seen as similar to asking Wendy’s to sell you a Whopper.

Unintended Consequences

To me this sends a message to all other book sellers that it’s ok to not consider POD books as real products, and refuse to carry them. I can envision all the major chains having their own in-house POD setups at some point, and they’ll follow suit by refusing to carry anything “not printed here”. This will include those books printed by Amazon’s BookSurge service.

Maybe I’m missing something more obvious, but it really seems that Amazon has set back the legitimacy of a certain class of books based solely on how they were printed and bound. I’m fully aware that there’s a lot of junk out there, because with POD anyone can “publish” their own book, but at the same time there are some wonderful works that perhaps would not be available in print any other way.

As a consumer, books in this situation might as well be mythical creatures. If I like to shop at a big chain, and they tell me “We don’t have a listing for that. We can’t order it,” then that’s it. Anything more requires jumping through hoops, meanwhile there are thousands of other books I can walk home with right now. Online it’s even worse. If a book isn’t up for order at your preferred online book seller it might as well not exist at all. And to many consumers, it won’t.

A Business Opportunity?

I foresee a lot of gloom and doom while this shakes out. There’s a change it will come to nothing in the end. It’s also possible Amazon is hoping to use this to get more favorable agreements out of POD houses before letting them back in. As such I’m just speculating here.

What if things play out like I suggested earlier, with each book seller having their own POD house, and not taking books from other POD houses. Assuming that the different POD services don’t have exclusivity agreements, the best option would be to offer you book through all of them. It’s obvious. Then wherever folks are they can get your book.

Simple, right?

No, not really. Having put together one book for LuLu I know it can take a great deal of time to prep the book to look good when they print and bind it. I’m sure other services have their own pitfalls. The idea of learning them all fills me with dread. Who has time for that?

But what if a someone started up some sort of aggregated POD service, where you get them your manuscript and they go through the process of getting it up on all the POD services for you? Could such a thing work? If you’re a POD author, would you use such a thing?

I’d be interested to hear other folks thoughts, so please comment.

Another Moment: “at the End of the Day”

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

So I joined Bitstrips...

At the End of the Day

X-UA-Compatible: Sensible Defaults

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

I’ll keep this short((well, short-ish)), because last time I rambled, and basically failed to make clear what I thought the problem was. In the end, my problem with the whole X-UA-Compatible concept was really in what IE8 planned to do when it was absent, which was to pretend it was IE7.

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Best Viewed in X-UA-Compatible

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Note: This post is quite a bit more technical than what I usually talk about.

Yesterday saw the release of A List Apart #251 which is causing quite a bit of discussion. It focuses on a proposal put forth my Microsoft and some members of the Web Standards Project for a new meta tag than will control the rendering mode of IE8.

The first article (Beyond DOCTYPE: Web Standards, Forward Compatibility, and IE8) covers the proposal, what it means and why it’s needed. The second (From Switches to Targets: A Standardista’s Journey) documents Eric Meyer’s shift in perspective from being opposed to, well, not opposed.

My initial thought is that it’s a horrible idea. After reading more about it, and seeing the arguments in favor I think it’s a bad idea.

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