Maheesh Jain, VP Sales/ Marketing at CafePress, has confirmed to me that the rumors they are launching print-on-demand (POD) services for content sites are true, albeit slightly inaccurate.
Here is the scoop:
"CDs: We're starting off focusing on music and will eventually move into data. Users will submit to us a master CD which we will duplicate from. They will be able to customize artwork for the CD as well as jewel case booklets. By March/April, we should have it so users can upload MP3s (and thus data as well). Most real musicians won't sell music from MP3 format, so that's why we're working from masters to start with.
DVDs: Completely master based b/c nobody wants to transfer that much data online! So user submits master DVD and we copy from that.
Books: PDF based system launch hopefully in March. No setup fees, no minimums. Users can upload documents in a few select formats (PDF recommended, Word, maybe Pagemaker). We will show them final formatting of document. User can upload artwork for front, back and spine. We will offer a few standard sizes as well as binding options (saddlestitch booklet, perfect bound, combing/wire bound). We will offer pay for design services if users need help formatting their books. Initially, we'll be offering color colors and b/w insides. We hope to move to color insides by end of spring."
Other reporters have mistakenly implied that CafePress wishes to enter the publishing industry, own copyrights, market content, or own the ISBNs for everything using the POD system. This is definitely *not* the case. Maheesh says they may provide an ISBN service whereby they help you get an ISBN which you'll own, if you don't feel like dealing with it on your own. They may also provide for-fee cover art creation services. They basically wanna be your printer and fulfillment house, not your publisher.
Link to my past article on how content sites are making money with CafePress offerings (small fee):