The Espresso Book Machine - Better than the Kindle

If you are like me, one of the major reasons why you don't want a Kindle is that you still like the feel of holding a real book in your hands. Certainly it is convenient to be able to purchase a new book whenever you want, but it is still not the same when you are trying to read your favorite novel onscreen.

That's why I was happy to discover that On Demand Books has created the ultimate innovation in book technology. Their new Espresso Book Machine is set to revolutionize the book industry by allowing anyone to print physical books on demand.

According to On Demand Books, the Espresso Book Machine is like an ATM for books. It prints, binds, and trims new books on the spot. The result is a perfectly bound, library quality paperback book. The book covers are full color, and according to On Demand Books, the books produced by the Espresso Book Machine are "indistinguishable from other books sold in bookstores."

Now you may wonder how long it takes to print a new book. Well, unfortunately the Espresso Book Machine isn't quite as fast as the espresso machine at your local Starbucks. But at four minutes for a 300 page book, it still produces new books in much less time than a trip to the local bookstore would. Running the machine twelve hours a day, seven days a week, you can print up to 60000 books a year.

With over two million titles available for printing there is plenty to choose from when it comes to the Espresso Book Machine.

According to On Demand Books:
Ultimately, the EBM will make it possible to distribute virtually every book ever published, in any language, anywhere on earth, as easily, quickly, and cheaply as e-mail...

Content is expected to increase substantially as more EBM’s are adopted by bookstores, libraries and other venues across the globe.
There are other big advantages to the Espresso Book Machine. It is environmentally friendly, reducing CO2 emissions by reducing the need for shipping bound books from publishing houses. It also saves paper because it eliminates the need for publishing houses to print books in large batches that may have to be destroyed due to lack of demand. With the Espresso Book Machine, if there isn't a demand for the book, paper isn't wasted printing it. This could be a big boon for the environment, as an estimated 8.8 pounds of carbon are created as byproducts of each book printed.

Publishers and authors may be worried about whether the Espresso Book Machine will lead to mass producing of books that they will never be paid for. Fortunately, the Espresso Book Machine takes care of everything. It charges a base fee to cover royalties as well as an extra per page fee to cover printing costs. The royalties are automatically sent to authors, publishers, and other content providers.

You can even use the Espresso Book Machine to print your own personal writings. According to On Demand Books:
Book files can also be printed in person from CDs, flashdrives, etc.

All you need is a ebook in PDF format, and the Espresso Book Machine will print as many copies of it as you pay for. This could be desirable for self-published authors trying to whip up interest in their works.

The Espresso Book Machine can bring great benefits to small publishers, retailers, and libraries and universities. Small publishers will never have to worry about returned shipments of unsaleable books. The Espresso Book Machine will allow them to keep a smaller inventory and a smaller back list. Retailers will likewise enjoy the reduced need for shelf space. With just a few Espresso Book Machines a retailer can serve many more customers out of a much smaller facility. They will never have to worry about running out of stock. Meanwhile, the innovative on-site printing is bound to bring in customers who want to buy a book just so that they can watch the Espresso Book Machine produce it. Libraries and Universities will be able to produce facsimiles of rare and valuable books, while at the same time enjoying a new source of revenue.

Unfortunately, the Espresso Book Machine is not a device that most people can afford to own. At £68000 (more than $100000 USD), none but the very rich could afford to own one themselves. However, for book sellers, and small publishers the Espresso Book Machine may prove to be a revolutionary device.

If you don't live near one of the fifteen cities where the Espresso Book Machine is in operation, you will have to stick to more traditional methods of purchasing books. But look forward to the day when the Espresso Book Machine comes to a bookstore near you!

Your Rating:
Inkweaver Review 2009-05-08T13:49:00-05:00

82 replies so far. What are your thoughts?

Eric Foor said...

This is a very interesting piece of technology. I do enjoy reading old fashioned paperbacks because those are what I'm normally used to. But as for my Kindle, my selection of books has grown and I've been able to find quite a bigger selection online.

I've found free books and pay books and it has been quite the positive reinforcement in my reading habits. The only problem is that I still don't read as much as I want too.

NathanKP said...

Thanks for commenting Eric. I'm glad that you enjoyed reading about the Espresso Book Machine. I found it interesting so I knew that it would interest others as well.

The Kindle is a piece of innovation in its own right, and the new Kindle DX just makes a good thing better. The Espresso Book Machine is similar in that it could make a huge change in the future of publishing and on demand books.

Both the Kindle and the Espresso Book Machine are aimed to bring you the books you want, whenever you want, and quickly.

The Kindle is electronic, though, while the Espresso Book Machine spits out a real book.

It is fascinating to think about changes in book technology.

Book Calendar said...

I saw this at the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishers Conference this year. It was quite interesting. They were printing some technology titles for O'Reilly Media and selling them at the conference.

It is a very interesting machine. There was very little waste in the production of books, just a few paper scraps.

I am still not sure how this would work because of the high initial cost to rent or buy the machine for a library system. They were talking about selling it to large central libraries when I was there. This would allow a much cheaper cost over the long run to print your own high demand titles than buying it from a publisher.

NathanKP said...

That must have been really neat to see the Espresso Book Machine live.

It does sound like it would be much less wasteful and more environmentally friendly, despite the high initial cost.

I hope that the central library in my town gets one eventually.

Jennifer Robin said...

I find this type of service to be particularly useful for out of print books. I have purchased print on demand books in the past (not from Espresso), and not been overly impressed by the quality, but it sure beats long, expensive, and sometimes fruitless searches for obscure titles. I hope Espresso will include OOP titles in their inventory.

NathanKP said...

Out of print books is one of the areas that the Espresso Book Machine is specifically aimed at. According to the manufacturer's info the books printed by the EBM are indistinguishable from other publisher's books, so the quality should be good.

Thanks for commenting, Jennifer.


Children Book Machine said...

I would be curious to see the quality of books produced.

Anonymous said...

price of the EBM is so EBM owner get profit from it

Anonymous said...

Which platform os is used for the s/w used in EBM?
And what about the payment part ?How customer pays for books??

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