The Biggest Thing in Publishing Since Gutenberg?

As I was driving into work, listening to NPR this morning, a story caught my ear.  Basically, they said ‘books’ and I was suddenly enrapt.

The story was set in Blackwell’s Bookstore on Charing Cross Road in London, where they have a new EBM (Espresso Book Machine) from On Demand Books, which can print and bind the book of your choice, including your own manuscript!  It is pretty fast, at about 100 pages per minute for the printing.  Right now there are 1/2 a million books in the database, but they anticipate having a million within the next 3 months.  The contention is that this is going to help paper books compete with the Kindle, as well as helping smaller bookstores compete with big box stores and Amazon.

On On Demand Books’ website I found a video of the EBS at work.  It isn’t the most exciting video, but it is pretty interesting to see how the thing works.

What do you think?  Is this the wave of the future?

For a list of all EBS locations, click here.

11 comments to The Biggest Thing in Publishing Since Gutenberg?

  • Wow that is a pretty nifty device!! I wonder how the cost compares to one already bound. But I know in a small town like I live in where you have to order online to get most of the books, this would be awesome!!

    Wendy’s last blog post..Booking Through Thursday

  • Wow. I think this would be great in the bookstore – no more “We can order that for you and it will take a week because it’s Print-on-Demand” but heaven forbid it would ever break…oy, that’s more complicated that a plain copier.

    Melissa’s last blog post..One Lovely Blog Award

  • That is incredible. Thanks for the great story.

    Jess’s last blog post..Review — What Would Jane Austen Do?

  • Ti

    I would imagine a machine like that to be quite costly to maintain which in turn would make the books costly as well. The idea of it sort of ruins the act for me. I still would much rather peruse a bookshelf and find a treasure that way. However, this may not be bad for textbooks, etc.

    Ti’s last blog post..It’s Time For Summer!

  • I have to admit I didn’t watch the video b/c I’m short on time. I think it’s a great idea, especially in the case of print-on-demand orders as a previous commenter mentioned.

    But I think Ti is right that these machines are going to be very expensive, and the cost will most likely be prohibitive to many bookstores, including large chains. I will be very surprised if we start to see these used widely anytime soon.

    Just think of all the self-publishing craziness that could come along with it. Oy vey.

    Rebecca @ The Book Lady’s Blog’s last blog post..Losing my [book club] virginity…

  • Wow, that is really cool! I can only imagine the joy of having that machine in libraries, being able to constantly reprint the books that go missing all the time!

    Nari – The Novel World’s last blog post..Fatland – Review

  • You have to hand it to these people for creativity for sure! But my concerns were very well expressed by Ti…I can’t see Borders buying into this, but probably more an indie shop. And the machine has to be pretty expensive. Any idea of what a book would cost?

    Sandy’s last blog post..Every Man Dies Alone – Hans Fallada

  • I can’t watch the video because I’m still a loser with dial-up!

    Staci’s last blog post..The Geometry of Sisters- My Thoughts

  • It absolutely is the wave of the future. The EBM 2.0 looks a lot nicer by the way and sells for a cool 95K.

    If I ran an indie bookshop or a used bookstore, I’d be banging on the banker’s door.

    We had quite a lively discussion about this over on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Come chime in if you feel so inclined.

    Janet’s last blog post..Crafty author

  • I think that these are definitely going to become more and more prevalent, and that’s exciting! I stole the idea from someone else, but one long-term dream of mine would be to open an indie bookstore with one of these, and a café upstairs. You could order your books and either stick around to watch them be printed, or head to the café and have them brought right to you with your tea!

    Wouldn’t that be lovely?

    Christine’s last blog post..Btt: Unread