PARIS — Gauthier Charrier, a graphic design student, stepped inside one of Paris’s newest bookstores and wondered, “Where are all the books?”
“I saw this empty, open space — just a couple of stools — and I wondered, ‘Did someone mess up?’” Mr. Charrier, 20, said.
No one messed up.
The pronounced stock shortage inside the Librairie des Puf, run by the publisher University Press of France, or Les Puf for short, is not the result of an ordering mistake, but the heart of the shop’s business model.
There are books, but they are not delivered in advance from wholesalers. They are printed on request, before the customer’s very eyes, on an Espresso Book Machine. On Demand Books, the American company that manufactures the machine, chose the name as a nod to an activity you can complete in the five minutes it takes to print a book: Have a quick coffee.
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