What is an Espresso Book Machine? A quick summary would be that it’s a machine that can very quickly (less than 7 minutes) print out from a file a paperback book, complete with color, that is virtually the same as a book you would buy off a book store shelf.
My friend Vlad at Third Place Books has made a video of their Espresso Book Machine in action.
These machines were already pretty cool. If you have access to one, then you can get a physical copy of a public domain book, even if it has been out of print for years. Project Gutenberg books, Google books . . . the machine has access to over 5 million books. AND more and more authors are using the machine to make their own ‘out of print’ books available as paper books again. Not to mention self publishing authors who wish to have paper books as well as e-books for their readers.
Now here is where it gets even more interesting.
This link goes to the story from yesterday, about HarperCollins making its paperback list available to any store that has an Espresso book machine. So, regardless of floor space and racks, a little book store can almost instantly hand the customer a copy of any HC papeback. And it’s a competitively priced book, too.
Think of what that means. IF it catches on, it means that publishers and bookstores will have less expense related to shipping and storing books. Returns would definitely taper off. There would be much less waste in the book industry.
I would miss actually browsing a real shelf of books, and opening one at random to take a peek inside. I suppose that sort of browsing can be done from a computer, to some extent, but I will miss the physical part of the experience.
I will be watching this with interest to see where it goes.