The Espresso Book Machine 2.0

Sunday, April 25, 2010

by: Anne Greenawalt

Imagine walking into your favorite bookstore or library. Imagine there are no books on the shelves, or there may be no shelves at all. Imagine that the only object in the store is a computer hooked up to a printer and book-binding machine. Imagine clicking a few buttons on the computer, waiting two to three minutes and having a freshly printed and bound book slide down a chute right into your hands.

This scenario no longer exists in the distant future.

The Espresso Book Machine (EBM), named for its speed and not its relationship to coffee, is like a vending machine for books. This machine, produced by On Demand Books, has the potential to revolutionize the future of book publishing as we know it.

“What Gutenberg did for Europe in the 15th century, digitization and the Espresso Book Machine can do for the world…today!” claims On Demand Books.

So what exactly is the EBM?
According to the EBM brochure, “The EBM 2.0 is a fully integrated patented book-making machine that can automatically print, bind, and trim on demand at point of sale perfect-bound library-quality paperback books with full-color covers in minutes for a production cost of a penny a page.”

Sounds pretty fancy, but what does this machine mean for today’s readers and writers?

Perhaps, if you’re like me, you’re terrified to think that digitization and the Espresso Book Machine will soon lead to the demolition of bookstores. But on the upside, this machine, according to its brochure, “makes it possible to distribute virtually every book ever published, in any language, anywhere on earth, as easily, quickly, and cheaply as e-mail.”

For readers, this means you can have any book of your choice at your fingertips in only a few minutes for only a few cents per page.

Writers, this means your work can be sent anywhere in the world in seconds and printed and bound a few moments later, potentially expanding your audience exponentially.

Future of book publishing
The EBM already exists in multiple locations within 13 US states as well as in six other countries. On Demand Books hopes to have 80 machines in operation worldwide by the end of 2011.

Are you excited that book buying will be this much easier and cheaper and that your books can be easily and quickly distributed worldwide without risk of ever going out of print? Or are you terrified that our creative havens of bookstores and libraries might no longer exist in the future?
I am caught somewhere in between.
Check out the EBM in action.

Anne Greenawalt ( is a fiction writer dabbling in the art of literary journalism.


Paul and Karen said...

This is what I wanted to do on my computer less than ten years ago. I think it's great, no wasted paper.

I still love my local libraries and bookstores but this is liberating. I don't need a stock of books to sell to friends, they can buy when they choose in minutes. We have more choices as authors and consumers.


Bookbinding Children Book said...

but the quality of books ??

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