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Amazon Turns To HP For Books-On-Demand Printing

The technology allows Amazon to offer out-of-print or special-interest books for sale without maintaining large inventories that might go unsold.

Hewlett-Packard on Monday said that online retailing giant will use HP digital presses to produce and sell books on demand.

HP said it has sold an unspecified number of its Indigo digital presses to Amazon for an undisclosed sum. The presses forgo mechanical printing plates and image directly to paper, allowing books to be produced in small runs economically. The technology allows retailers like Amazon to offer out-of-print or special-interest books for sale without maintaining large inventories that might go unsold.

HP acquired all outstanding shares in Indigo, a Dutch pioneer in digital printing technology, in 2001 for $621 million.

Amazon officials said the technology allows the company to offer a greater range of books to consumers. "This collaboration with HP will enable us to significantly increase the number of available titles our customers can purchase while offering publishers the highest-quality printing options," said Greg Greeley, VP of books at Amazon, in a statement.

According to market research firm Interquest, the books-on-demand market will grow from about 20 billion book pages in 2006 to 38 billion book pages in 2009, driven mostly by increasing demand for small-volume, rare, and self-published books.

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