PSFK Talks to David L. Sifry, Offbeat Guides
Let’s talk about the technology of paper. People haven’t thought about this very much, we just take it for granted. It has been around for how long- 5,000 years? But you know what? Paper, actually, is extremely high-resolution! It’s black and white and color, it doesn’t require power. It works even when it gets wet – you don’t have to send it for tech-support. You can fold it, you can cut it, you can rip it. There are all sorts of interesting things that you can do with paper. Now, the problem with paper is that you can only write to it once. Unless of course you are taking notes in which case you can write to it many times I suppose. It is also an analogue media. What I really thought about was: Let’s give people the choice of what they want, but let’s not think of this just in terms of the traditional publishing model. When we think that way, we tend to think about mass production. But what if you could take away that lowest common denominator format, the idea that I have to produce 100,000 books or that I have to produce some large number of books and get them into stores in order to be profitable. What if we could print these totally customized books for each and every individual person? Then we’d be starting to combine some of the benefits that we’ve had only in digital formats. But we’d be able to also give you the convenience of paper.