The Espresso Book Machine, coming soon to a library near you? In 5-7 minutes, the Espresso will deliver a printed-and-bound copy of any book you like (as long as it’s out of copyright and available in digital form through a collection the machine can access).
The Espresso’s manufacturer, On Demand Books*, has big dreams for it, imagining a global network of machines in libraries and bookstores. “What Gutenbergâ€™s press did for Europe in the 15th century, digitization and the Espresso Book Machine will do for the world tomorrow.”
*On Demand Books was co-founded by Jason Epstein, formerly editorial director of Random House, and a founder of the New York Review of Books. (I worked for his ex-wife, Barbara Epstein, at the NYRB long ago, but that’s a story for another time.) The On Demand site links to a letter he wrote to the WSJ in May. In it, he predicts a print-rich POD future in which “a multilingual, deep backlist will reside on Web sites of related interest, as well as with aggregators–and be transmitted on demand as swiftly as email…”