Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Print on Demand everywhere - not always a great idea

For years, really decades now, I have been a big fan of "print on demand" - trading off pre-printed matter for that can be generated "on the fly", when and it what quantity the material is needed. It just seems like such a natural, harkening back to the initial popularity of the overall "just in time" (JIT) supply chain philosophy that took off back in the 1980's and 1990's.

It reduces waste, assures the latest and greatest will be printed, and overall, moves the printing closer to the end-user, which all makes terrific sense. Granted, sometimes the aesthetics are compromised (think of a classically printed book versus a toner-on-paper, or more likely these days, ink-on-paper version), but we can usually live with that. Especially when referring to the book publishing world, the ability to get a printed copy of something obscure and often out-of-print leaves no real alternative.

BUT...this one just makes me a little sad. Our local post office has had one of their wonderful automated machines for years, and I have long been a fan, at least on my rare trips to the PO. Especially when it comes to weighing a large envelope or package, then dispensing the exact postage on peel-off adhesive media, and charging the credit card, it's hard to beat, compared to standing in line and getting human help to do the same thing, ending with traditional a metered postage label affixed to your item.

They have recently upgraded the machine, and added one, and while the old one always dispensed regular postage stamps, vending-machine-style, this new pair spits out $4.80 sheets of print-on-demand "stamps" - see below. And I am sorry, and maybe it goes back to philatelic interest of my youth, I feel my quality of life took a hit! I want my basic flag stamps (as well as colorful commemoratives) back!

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