Do you know what this is?
It’s called the Espresso Book Machine. Essentially, it’s a vending machine for books. A vending machine that can theoretically hold about a million titles. You just scroll through the digital catalog, choose your book and poof! … plop in your credit card and your book will start printing.
I imagine it takes 15 minutes or so to get Pride and Prejudice, or The Alchemist or The Bible (or every readers must-have title, Homeboyz.) But for those who still want to read in print, this is one way that will be more and more evident in the future.
Kinda cool, huh? A kiosk for literature.
Advantages are plentiful with this type of system. You only print a book when someone actually orders the book thus saving paper, warehousing and the such. Of course, it’s also yet another assault on bookstores. (And I love bookstores. I really do wish they’d stop being assaulted.)
Yet, I must concede that even one of those super-store 100,000 title mega-story bookstores with a cafe can’t carry as many titles as one of these Espresso book machines. And if these things start popping up at Starbucks – in an inverted way from how we saw Starbucks start to pop up in bookstores – well, even more change might be afoot.
Ultimately, I think that what this contraption represents to me is an insight into how printed books and eReading is going to blend in the coming years. I don’t see it as an either or scenario with either digital publishing or print publishing winning entirely while the other loses entirely.
Co-existence seems more likely.