Books and Espresso

Books and coffee just belong together. A cosy bookstore often has a coffee shop attached, and in  coffee shops you will nearly always see someone reading. Now we have the Espresso Book Machine. No, it’s not a machine that pours coffee on your book, you’ll have to do that for yourself. What it does do, however, is print a bound paperback copy of a book in minutes.

Espresso Book Machine

The machine is designed to sit in libraries or bookstores and provide instant access to books that are available electronically from publishers, Google Books, or your own flash drive.

I have no idea what the actual printing costs are, and of course, the retail price would reflect royalties and profits throughout the supply chain. By printing on-site, you eliminate costs associated with distribution and shipping. Whether this is translated into reduced retail price would depend upon the business model adopted by the publisher and the  machine operator. One approach would be for the publisher to charge the same as they do for an e-book, and then the rest is up to the machine owner.

When bookstores order books, they need to wait until they have a minimum size order to take advantage of their retail discounts. This technology eliminates that wait. In an academic setting, textbooks can be printed for  each student, rather than having the instructor and  estimate the correct number. Assuming that relevant permissions are granted, an instructor  could put chapters from several books together to tailor a textbook for their particular needs.

For someone interested in self-publishing, the only cost is the printing. While likely more expensive than ordering a large number of books from a printer, it has the advantage of printing off a few at a time and having them almost instantly. Most printers require a minimum size order, while the EBM prints one at a time. This could also be used to have a look at your book’s design – font selection, size, headers, footers, etc. without incurring a large expense.

The company’s website lists the locations of machines near you. For local people wanting to check this out, there is one at the University of PEI’s library.

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