This morning, my first order from Lulu plopped onto my doormat. Lulu is an 'on-demand' printing company who will publish books with any content, in any run with professional hardback binding and dust sleeve. Your book can have an ISBN number and be retailed on Amazon.
On-demand printing has been heralded as a new dawn for the printing industry, to take back ground from web media and e-books. An 'Espresso' printing machine was trialled recently in the Blackwells bookshop branch at Londons Charing Cross doing a roaring trade in dissertations and out of print or post-copyright books from pdf.
However, I wonder if this approach has a flaw at its centre. The one thing that sets a book apart from other sources of information is the presence of an editor. Because making books (used to) require cost outlay, some hope of return was best guaranteed by having editors and buyers who would select the best, or most saleable, offerings and spend their money to get them out there. With this in mind, we all still recourse to books for facts we know to be true, a position even protected from other print media. 'Don't believe everything you read in the paper....'. If anyone, anywhere can publish information, this lofty aspiration to veracity and quality, embodied in the format is eroded.
On the other hand, sometimes the least provable ideas are the best, and if many more ideas are available to consume, maybe the economics can act like an open source. The best-seller list could prove who believes what, a paper print Wikipedia.
All the same, I'll be digesting my new book, be it truth or lies, and if it's any good, I'll post a review up here.