For those of us who will just always prefer the dead tree version of books to their digital counterparts, the future has arrived. From local Santa Cruz newspaper, Good Times:
Coming soon to a bookstore near you: the future of bookselling. That's what Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz, calls the Espresso Book Machine. It's a piece of technology about the size of an old-fashioned Xerox copy machine that's capable of creating a professionally printed, perfectly-bound, and trimmed paperback book in minutes—books to go, while you wait...
Bearing the weighty technical name Espresso Book Machine® (EBM)—A Xerox Solution, the device is produced by parent company On Demand Books, and positioned to send the beleaguered book industry reeling into the future—ready or not. Can't find the book you want on the shelves? No need to make a special order (or order it online), and wait days, or weeks, for it to arrive. The EBM will print one up for you on the spot—so long as the desired title is available through EspressNet®, the EBM's digital catalog of content. With major-player publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins (among others) making their in-print backlists available, and public domain titles provided through the Google Books program, there are currently some eight million titles available in any language via the EBM. As more publishers and book providers sign on, those numbers will only increase.
And there's a little something there for authors looking to self-publish, too:
In addition to ushering in a brave new world of instant book access for readers, the EBM is poised to be a boon for authors, as well. The same technology that makes it possible to format and print a book on the spot will also allow an author to upload his or her manuscript and turn it into book form in a matter of minutes. Hard copy—an actual book!—that most elusive Holy Grail of so many unpublished authors is now within everyone's grasp.
Here's how it works: the author submits two PDF files, one for the text of the book, and one for the color cover....Once the formatting is complete, an author can start printing out as many or as few copies of his or her work as desired, at the push of a button.
...Once it's in the system, the author retains all rights to the work, decides on the retail price, and receives the full retail amount per sale, minus a small consignment fee per copy.
Can this machine save the bookselling industry? Who knows. But you've got to admit that it is pretty darn cool.
Image of Espresso Book Machine® from Good Times.