Paris is famed for its culture, and the City of Light is almost as well-known for its attempts to preserve that culture. And with Amazon taking on the book-reading community on two fronts with both successful brick-and-mortar bookstores and thriving Kindle sales, one Parisian bookshop is being forced to fight back with some high-tech innovation of its own.
The New York Times is reporting that Librairie des Puf, a Paris bookstore run by the University Press of France, has abandoned the traditional in-store design of packed floorplans with bookcases stacked high to the ceiling. Instead, an on-demand book printer, the Espresso Book Machine, courtesy of American-based On Demand Books, allows "Les Puf" to make its storefront a more comfortable place to hang out while browsing on tablets the new and old titles available for printing in as little as five minutes.
Alexandre Gaudefroy, director of Librairie des Puf, told The NYT that even though the store's format may not be traditional, it actually does more for classic literature than an archival approach has so far.
“What’s really exciting is that, thanks to the on-demand model, we can revive old titles, which we previously hadn’t bothered with because they’d only sell five or 10 copies in a year,” Gaudefroy said. “On-demand, it’s a new economy for us.”
Between books published by the store's imprint as well as those loaned to them by its partnership with On Demand Books, the printer at this Paris bookstore can draw on a library of more than 3 million titles - an expensive proposition, to say the least, for any physical store.
“The customers are all surprised," Gaudefroy said of the stripped-down store design. “At first, they’re a little uncomfortable with the tablets. After all, you come to a bookshop to look at books. But thanks to the machine and the tablets, the customer holds a digital library in their hands.”