Another alternative presented by technology would retain the traditional book format but change the way books are produced and delivered. Print on demand--which makes it financially feasible to print small batches of books inexpensively--is already a boon for the self-published author as well as for traditionally published authors seeking to reprint their out-of-print books. Now Jason Epstein, the former editorial director of Random House, is preparing to test a more sophisticated, even less expensive all-in-one book-making machine capable of producing up to 20 quality paperbacks an hour. The World Bank Bookstore in Washington, D.C., is installing the Espresso Book Machine, as Epstein calls it, later this month. Using digital files, the machine will be able to immediately print any book in the World Bank catalog. The chief benefit of the machine, says Epstein, is that a requested book would never be out of stock or out of print. Such a machine could make books less expensive, Epstein believes, because it would eliminate the need to warehouse and ship books; instead of guessing how many books to print--a game that leaves bookstores stuck with piles of unsold flops and readers unable to find out-of-stock surprise hits--the supply will always be just right.So the physical bookstore of the near future may have every book you want (if you're willing to wait a little bit for it to assemble itself), although you may still visit a virtual bookstore for better pricing (if you're willing to wait a little bit longer for delivery). Assuming, of course, that you've already decided not to download it and read it on your eBook reader instantaneously.
There's also lots of online places where you can publish your own book as well - you can even turn your blog into a book. So not only does the web turn our students into online publishers, but it can lead to more traditional offline publishing as well. How we - and our students - interact with information is changing ever so quickly. I think maybe we need to spend more time thinking about how to prepare our students to be successful "interactors."