Books Delivered While You Wait: A Close Look at the Espresso Book Machine in Action

March 2010
by Linda Carlson

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Linda CarlsonLinda Carlson (photo right), writes for IBPA’s Independent magazine from Seattle, Washington. She can be reached at linda@ibpa-online.org.


What is the Espresso Book Machine, and why should publishers care about it? After interviewing retailers who are installing this point-of-purchase kiosk from On Demand Books that can print and bind books within minutes, I am convinced that, more than anything else, EBM purchases demonstrate booksellers’ interest in “the long tail” and their belief in the value of satisfying the demand for long-tail material.

For those of us who have feared that big-box retailers will limit what gets brick-and-mortar shelf space and thus what gets read, it’s reassuring to see a means of getting wildly diverse offerings to a market. This print-on-demand service, which won’t use trade publishing’s traditional financial terms, is one of several that are changing the current model.

Currently available in two dozen locations in the United States and Canada and in a similar number elsewhere in the world, the Espresso Book Machine reportedly costs about $100,000 to buy but is also available on lease. It produces customers’ own books as well as titles from Lightning Source files, titles from Google’s collection of public domain titles, and material made available through the Online Archive. Now that On Deman…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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