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Sunday, January 17, 2010


Can This Machine Save Bookstores?

Will bookstores become extinct?

I don't think so, and here's just one reason why: The Espresso Book Machine.

The ability of the EBM to create books on-demand at the point of sale not only makes it possible to greatly reduce the amount of real estate that bookstores have to lease (shelving one sample book of every current title takes a lot less space than shelving dozens), but it also eliminates shipping costs, and ensures that no bookstore will ever run out of a particular title. In green terms, it means far less books will be returned to publishers [to be destroyed] since books will only be printed on-demand.

Pretty cool stuff.

The EBM was in the news again this week with the announcement of a new agreement with Xerox. As the LA Times Jacket Copy blog highlights in its January 14 post, the EBM is expected to show up at seven new venues this year (mostly university libraries and bookstores). Bookstores have so far been slow to embrace the EBM, both because of the cost (about $125,000 per machine, says Jacket Copy) and concerns about digital files and piracy (the EBM makes it possible to print more than 2 million books in Google's public domain catalog, which has been the focus of much legal wrangling).

(Twitter Me)

-- TJ Sullivan is the author of the novel Boon.


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