[LINK] While-you-wait book printing

Ivan Trundle ivan at itrundle.com
Fri Apr 24 21:08:15 AEST 2009

Since we discussed this some weeks ago... it's arrived in the UK.

(From the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/24/espresso-book-machine-blackwell)

It's not elegant: it looks like a large photocopier. But the Espresso  
Book Machine could herald the biggest change for the literary world  
since Gutenberg invented his printing press more than 500 years ago.

Unveiled today at Blackwell's Charing Cross Road branch, in central  
London, the machine prints and binds books in five minutes.

Blackwell believes the introduction signals the end to the frustration  
of being told a title is out of print or not in stock. The Espresso  
offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of  
Lewis Carroll's original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs  
Beeton's Book of Needlework.

The company hopes to increase the catalogue to more than a million  
titles by the end of the summer, the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf  
space or more than 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these  
books are out of copyright, but Blackwell is working with UK  
publishers to increase access to in-copyright writing. So far the  
response has been overwhelmingly positive, the firm says.

"This could change bookselling fundamentally," said Blackwell's chief  
executive, Andrew Hutchings. "It's giving the chance for smaller  
locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly  
compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon ... I like to think of  
it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could  
walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles,  
that's pretty compelling."

The Espresso can cater to a wide range of needs from serving academics  
keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe  
novelists needing a copy of their self-published novels, says  
Blackwell, which will be monitoring its use to decide pricing and  
demand. The plan is to roll out the innovation across the 60-store  
network, with the flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early  
recipient as well as campus-based shops.

The Espresso is the brainchild of the American publisher Jason Epstein  
and was a Time magazine invention of the year. It proved a star  
attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it printed more  
than 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding,  
guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article.

Described as an "ATM for books" by its US proprietor On Demand Books,  
the Espresso machine has been established in the US, Canada and  
Australia, and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt.

The Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK  
bookstore. It cost Blackwell about £120,000, but Phill Jamieson, head  
of marketing, said: "It has the potential to be the biggest change  
since Gutenberg."

Ivan Trundle
http://itrundle.com ivan at itrundle.com
ph: +61 (0)418 244 259 fx: +61 (0)2 6286 8742 skype: callto://ivanovitchk

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