Skip to content

Espresso Book Machine

May 21, 2009

After years in business, many traditional bookshops were forced to close up shop, surrendering to their online competitors. What are the few remaining suppose to do to keep their doors open? Blackwell, the flagship store of a 130-year-old book chain, may have found an answer. Tourists go to Hershey Park to see chocolate being made. So why not pay to see a book being made. Inside Blackwell is an apparatus called the Espresso Book Machine. It prints and binds books in a matter of minutes and thanks to the transparent Perspex walls you get to see it all happen.

The EBM was manufactured by On Demand Books. It’s purpose was to offer solutions to common retail problems such as increase inventory, supply out-of-print books and eliminate returns. All you need is a digital file of the book you want to print. However, will this device really help save bookstores?

Of course, there are drawbacks. Blackwell can only print out-of-copyright books and unsigned authors. Copyrighted works will have to wait to become available. Since it is a machine, it is prone to breakdowns. As of now, in London, there is only one machine available. In the future, there may be more to revolutionize the book market.

Do you think the Espresso Book Machine will save the printed book?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Andrea prefers the printed book versus e-books or audiobooks. It may be interesting actually seeing one being made.
  1. May 21, 2009 7:20 pm

    It sounds cool. There’s a similar thing in a store in Melbourne.

    If the printed book is doomed to fail, of which I’m not certain it will, then not sure if this will save it.

  2. May 21, 2009 9:09 pm

    I read an online article about this machine last week. For emerging writers and for writers of niche non fiction books this seems like such a great idea. One of the problems Annie and I have had with our ebook has been our audience/readership isn’t ready for an ebook version and want to have a paper copy in their hand.

    I also like the idea of being able to get out of print books. In that past out of print has meant hunting down a second hand copy and saying a prayer to the Goddess on the way.

    To me, machine like this are increasing the ability of the public to access books and taking, bit by bit, the monopoly away from publishers who have really had writers over the barrel for too many years.

    Next time I’m in Melbourne Benjamin I’d love to see the bookstore you are taling about! I”d be interested to know how the royalties go back to the author from the sale of a book like this.

  3. May 22, 2009 5:54 am

    My publisher is one of the few who is part of the trial and I’m really excited about it (see press release on my blog).

    Lightning Source printing quality is excellent and for publishers who have been using short run laser printing this is a way to get bookstores to carry their books — without inventory.

    “The capability to print a book on-site in a bookstore or library means that shipping costs, both financial and environmental, are eliminated. Although no one has, as far as I know, calculated the environmental impact of the machine itself, it has to be borne in mind that the book would still need to be printed, yet that the now-standard print runs wouldn’t be necessary. Given 25-50% of those runs are returned and discarded, logic would suggest the EBM is a much more environmentally sound way of producing print books than any of the alternatives.”

    The only problem I see is that the EBM is damned expensive, so small bookstores would have to sell a ton of books for it to worth their investment. On the other hand, their inventory would more than quadruple and the delivery is immediate, competing well with online bookstores.

    The threat to EBMs, IMO, is the ebook, especially with the advent of good readers like the Sony and the Kindle.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: