Retail locations which do not supply a niche have a physical problem. Space physically limits inventory. For a while some of the chains were promising next day from the warehouse and they stocked titles in the central/Web warehouse which could be sent out to any store location with their next daily stock order, but, I do not know if any still offer that. Impulse buyers aren’t willing to wait until tomorrow.
There are currently multiple attempts to solve this physical problem. One of the more established solutions is the Espresso Book Machine. Just because it has been around the longest doesn’t mean it will win, just that it has a base. Solutions are being offered up by other companies and some have big publisher backing as big publishers try to put Amazon.com back in its place. Amazon has even sent up trial balloons about opening up to 400 physical book stores.
Regardless of the technology involved, in-store POD solutions are the local retailers’ and major publishers’ last hope against Amazon. Now a store front in a strip mall can have a complete Internet of titles to offer in roughly 10 minutes. Impulse buyers are usually willing to grab something to drink and nibble on while waiting for the book to pop out of the back of the machine. Some are even entertained by watching the thing work.
Certainly the Harvard Book Store has gotten into this model. They have even hooked up with Kobo for eBooks which is another interesting aspect of this new model. Kobo is aggressively seeking to connect with brick and mortar book sellers who don’t have their own eBook vending systems. This gives a small local retailer a 1-2 punch. They can sell eBooks in store and they can print books on demand offering potentially millions of titles with a very small retail space.