What's the definition of "good enough" in the digital and print-on-demand (POD) worlds? Ideally, when I couldn't find The Bronx Zoo in my local bookstore they would have offered to create a POD copy for me while I sip a cup of coffee. On-site POD solutions like the Espresso machine have been "a year or so away" and I'm starting to think they always will be. Not only are they prohibitively expensive but I'm also told they require 24x7 on-site tech support; think of the copy machine guy who's frequently at your office, only worse.
Are we over-thinking this? I don't need an offset-quality (or near offset-quality) copy of The Bronx Zoo to be happy. I'd take a copy machine-quality one. And with FedEx/Kinko's outlets everywhere, why hasn't a partnership between brick-and-mortar bookstores and Kinko's developed by now? Borders doesn't have the book? No problem. Pay at the counter (or online) and pick up a copy machine-quality version as you pass Kinko's on your way home. No time to stop at Kinko's? They'll be glad to put your copy on a FedEx Ground truck that's heading to your neighborhood later today anyway; for an additional small fee they'll bring it to you, that same day.
Isn't this Amazon's worst nightmare? Btw, yes, I know I could order the book on Amazon and have it tomorrow. That's not my point. I'm trying to address those situations where you're looking for instant gratification but the local brick-and-mortar stores can't help you...today. Again, I've seen plenty of POD-produced boks and they're great, but they require a hefty investment in hardware. So what about an option that creates something that's not quite as elegant? It would still be bound with a cover, although that cover might just be one-color.
Then there's the "good enough" question in ebook readers. Thanks to competitive pressure from B&N Amazon recently reduced the price on their Kindles. And then they announced the $139 wifi-only Kindle. I think Amazon realizes they can't compete with the flexibility of the iPad; there's only so far the monochrome, animation-free Kindle can go. And a lot of people are interested in a one-trick pony like the Kindle, so perhaps they'll continue to have that niche...until Apple creates smaller and less expensive iPads.
Yes, the $139 wifi-only Kindle is sold out, but if Amazon really wants to create an ereader for the masses they should come out with a sub-$100 device with no connectivity other than a USB port. Just about everyone on the planet now has a smartphone. Why not let this bare bones Kindle tether to a smartphone (or computer) for content purchases? Imagine how many $79 tethering Kindles Amazon could sell. Heck, I'd buy one for each of my kids.
An ereader with built-in connectivity is nice; market dominance is nicer though.
P.S. -- Btw, Amazon, if eInk is still the production bottleneck, get that problem fixed before it's too late. You've still got a chance to own what's left of the dedicated ereader market, but if you don't act soon Apple will completely clobber you.