Book Vending Machines

Originally posted bychris carroll on May 3, 2009 at 11:17 pm
A recent NPR story described yet another revolution in the publishing industry that could change the way we purchase and read books.The Espresso Book Machine is “essentially an ATM for books that automatically prints, binds, and trims, on demand at point of sale, perfect-bound, library-quality paperback books.” About a hundred pages can be printed per minute (meaning it will take about a quarter of an hour to churn out that copy of War and Peace I’ve been meaning to scan on my next coffee break). The manufacturer claims books will cost about a penny a page and,“Ultimately, the EBM will make it possible to distribute virtually every book ever published, in any language, anywhere on earth, as easily, quickly, and cheaply as e-mail.” Other revolutionary claims for the “EBM” see it replacing the traditionally centralized supply chain for book distribution with its “direct-to-consumer retail model.” Over two million public domain and in-copyright titles are currently available at the fifteen or so current vending machine locations in bookshops, libraries, and universities around the world. The manufacturer sees the devices eventually costing about as much as a traditional copy machine.This statement from the company’s founder discusses his view of “the end of the Gutenberg era” and the revolutionary new publishing infrastructure offered by devices like E-Books and the EBM.This spec sheet gives more interesting details of the machine itself, with the impressive claim that the EBM “makes it possible to distribute virtually every book ever published, in any language, anywhere on earth, as easily, quickly, and cheaply as e-mail.”This CNN video shows the machine at work at a London bookshop, with the store manager describing how the revolutionary device all the sudden makes his shop “ten times bigger.”

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