Why settle for mere digital copies of books (a la the Google Book Search project and the Open Content Alliance) when you can have an edition printed, bound and sent to you in the mail? That’s the twist behind a recent partnership announced by Amazon.com, Kirtas Technologies, Emory University, University of Maine, Toronto Public Library, and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
More information via C|Net News, The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), and Inside Higher Ed. I’m putting this in the “Disruption in Libraries” category because it is an example of using a technical innovation to serve an un-served or under-served population — not only the digitization of books but also the ability to deliver a physical reproduction to the user. That aspect makes this program distinct from the others, and it is the first time that we’ve seen a glimpse of a reasonable business model: costs recovered and profits made that go back into the digitization program for new books. Since this is a non-exclusive agreement that puts the libraries in control, the texts can be made available freely online or available at a nominal cost to the user in a physical form.
[Update 20070704T0904 : Ack! I linked to the wrong Chronicle of Higher Ed article. Fixed now — thanks Jodi.]
The text was modified to update a link from http://news.emory.edu/Releases/KirtasPartnership1181162558.html to http://www.emory.edu/news/Releases/KirtasPartnership1181162558.html on November 13th, 2012.(This post was updated on 13-Nov-2012.)