The Espresso Book Machine is an interesting piece of technology that produces a finished book in a matter of minutes. Just recently the Brooklyn Public Library headquarters became one of about 70 locations to have one (bookstores too) where people can watch a book being made. I can imagine for a writer this could be a terrific experience.
Since the printer takes up 25 feet of floor space and the latest version is five feet tall and seven feet wide, in a way this state of the art machine is like a peep into the past—for some reason,the ENIAC computer springs to mind. On top of that we have the increasing popularity of eBooks.
The Espresso was invented by a Jeff Marsh, an inventor from St. Louis, but the license is held by OnDemand Books, together with Xerox. Additionally, Jason Epstein, editorial director of Random House’s trade book division is in charge of the intellectual visionary of the enterprise.
The goal is to make every book available on demand. Millions of public domain titles have been digitized by Google and are already in the database. There is also a growing number of out of print titles along with much of the back list from Harper Collins. This actually raises more questions than answers regarding expired copyright books that most of us like to download free of charge.
As reported, the the Return on Investment (ROI) problem for booksellers is the cost of the Espresso Book Printer, which could be as much as $150,000. There are five-year lease options available for well over $5,000 plus (there’s always the plus) the expected selection of add-ons for personnel and the necessary basic supplies.
If you’d like to read a lot more about it including the agreement with OnDemand to operate the machines directly click on TheAtlantic.com.