We originally heard about the Espresso Book Machine from a CNN article published in 2006 that looked at innovations coming our way in 2007. Since we first posted this news item to the CCF website in 2006, the machine has gotten smaller and faster.
A January 14, 2010 press release by the Xerox Corporation announced that Xerox' technology is to fuel the Espresso Book Machine. Even more promising for what has been termed "the ATM for books," is the fact that Xerox' worldwide agreement with On Demand Books includes global marketing and sales support.
The Espresso Book Machine could very well be the answer to keeping backlists, the publishers' bread and butter, alive.
"Buying a book could soon be as easy as buying a pack of gum. After several years in development, the Espresso - a $50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library - is nearly consumer-ready and will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. The New York Public Library is scheduled to receive its machine in February." [Emily Baltby, CNNMoney.com]
"On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine, The Espresso Book Machine, which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book. ODB has two machines currently deployed (one at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt)." [Press Release, OnDemandBooks.com]
The Inauguration of the Espresso Printing Machine took place on April 6, 2006, at the World Bank Infosession. You can see a video of the alpha Espresso Book Machine by Perfect Systems, LLC, producing a book in seven minutes by clicking here (requires Apple's Quicktime Video Player version 6.5, available for download here). Back in 2006 when we posted this news article to our website, the video said it took 8 minutes to produce a perfect bound book. It mentions that where glue on the binding is not the preferred mode they also "have a patented ultrasonic binding process" and they also have "knotch binding" available for more durable books.
That was in 2006, here now you have a YouTube video showing On Demand Books Version 2.0 of the Espresso Book Machine in action. There's an actual timed section of the video where you see a book being produced within 1 minute 08 seconds. It's showing what looks like an 8.5"x11" perfect bound book being produced and tells you it can also produce 4.5"x4.5" titles. The narrator tells us that what is completed is a "library quality paperback book."
It felt a bit like watching a Star Trek episode where replicators are used to produce items on demand. Imagine, for $5 you can have a 500 page book within minutes. The book comes out perfect bound, with a full-color laminated cover. Amazing, isn't it?