The instant book is finally here. National Public Radio (NPR) online has an interesting feature about the Blackwell Bookshop at 100 Charing Cross Road in London, which has installed an Espresso book machine.
Floor manager Marcus Gipps says the printer runs at about 100 pages a minute. The machine then sticks and binds the pages together itself, and out comes a book -- a real book, just like all the other books on Blackwell's shelves.
Gipps says the store already has a half-million titles saved digitally on the Espresso, ready to print -- that's five times the number on the shop floor -- and within three months, it should have more than a million available.
You can read the article at http://tinyurl.com/o57n3m
In April, Lightning Source launched an Espresso Book Machine (EBM) pilot program with On Demand Books. An excerpt from their press release:
Participating publishers in the pilot include John Wiley & Sons, Hachette Book Group, McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, Clements Publishing, Cosimo, E-Reads, Bibliolife, Information Age Publishing, Macmillan, University of California Press and W.W. Norton.
The pilot, being offered initially to a small group of publishers that currently work with Lightning Source, will enable these publishers to enhance the availability of their titles at point-of-sale EBM locations. Approximately 85,000 titles from these publishers will be available for purchase at EBM locations in the USA in May 2009.
Upon the completion of a successful pilot, publishers that print and distribute books with Lightning Source will have the option to participate in the EBM channel. Complete channel automation is expected in the first half of this year, and rollout of the program to publishers globally is expected to follow shortly thereafter.
For those not familiar with Lightning Source, here’s a quote from Wikipedia:
Lightning Source is a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., and a sister company to leading U.S. book wholesaler Ingram Book Group. They are the leading printer and distributor of print on demand books. Lightning Source has printed over 60,000,000 books for over 6,500 publishers around the world. The Lightning Source digital library holds over 600,000 books.
Lightning Source gives the publishing community options to print books in any quantity, 1-10,000, and provides its customers access to the most comprehensive bookselling channel in the industry in both the United States and the United Kingdom
Apparently Lightning Source considers the pilot program to be a success. Small publishers working with them are now signing up for the program. I have a copy of the users manual and here are a couple of interesting facts: Manufacture time for a single book is approximately six (6) minutes … The direct consumables required are toner, ink, paper, cover stock and glue. The cost of consumables is approximately $.01 per page.
That’s a penny a page, folks, and a book by the time you take a couple of sips of coffee. It has been a long time coming.
On Demand Books is the work of Jason Epstein, a visionary who was editorial director of Random House for years. He created Anchor Books, which established the trade paperback format, and was co-founder of The New York Review of Books. Some ten years ago he saw a POD machine being developed by an engineer in St. Louis, and he’s been pushing it ever since.
Epstein recently gave the keynote address at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference. His opening statement:
“I don't have to tell anyone here that we are at the end of the Gutenberg era; at the threshold not only of a new way of publishing books but of a cultural revolution of magnitude greater than Gutenberg's, assuming we survive our financial calamity, our 20,000 nuclear weapons, and our melting ice cap, all of them, by the way, unintended consequences of the western civilization that Gutenberg's technology made possible.”
Truth be told, his speech is almost scary. Judging by the comments, some people take exception to a few of his statements. You can read the full text of the speech at http://tinyurl.com/atnsms
Meantime, some of the Espresso machines are up and running at these locations:
Internet Archive, The Presidio, San Francisco, California;
New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans, Lousiana;
University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan;
Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vermont;
Brigham Young University Bookstore (coming spring 2009), Provo, Utah;
The InfoShop, The World Bank (exhibition 2006), Washington, D.C.;
New York Public Library, SIBL (exhibition 2007), New York, New York;
The University of Alberta Bookstore, Edmonton, Alberta;
McMaster Innovation Press / Titles On Demand, McMaster University Bookstore, Hamilton, Ontario;
McGill University Library (coming spring 2009), Montreal, Quebec;
University of Waterloo Bookstore, Waterloo, Ontario;
Angus & Robertson Bookstore, Melbourne, Australia;
NewsStand UK 88 to 84 London Business Park, Roding Road, London;
Blackwell Bookshop, 100 Charing Cross Road, London;
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, El Shatby, Alexandria. Egypt
So … if you’re going to be traveling this fall, find a bookstore and stop in for a latte and a copy of ABSINTHE OF MALICE, okay?