"Buying a book could soon be as easy as buying a pack of gum. After several years in development, the Espresso - a $50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library - is nearly consumer-ready and will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. The New York Public Library is scheduled to receive its machine in February." [Emily Baltby, CNNMoney.com]
"On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine, The Espresso Book Machine, which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book. ODB has two machines currently deployed (one at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt)." [Press Release, OnDemandBooks.com]
The Inauguration of the Espresso Printing Machine took place on April 6, 2006, at the World Bank Infosession. You can see a video of the alpha Espresso Book Machine producing a book in seven minutes by clicking here (requires Apple's Quicktime Video Player version 6.5, available for download here).
After the film downloads, move the marker 1/2 way to get to the part where Jason Epstein, a publisher for more than 40 years, talks about how he sees the Espresso Book Machine as the answer to keeping backlists, the publishers' bread and butter, alive. 4/5s down the presentation is where you see students click the "Order" button and seven minutes later a finished book comes out.
It felt a bit like watching a Star Trek episode where replicators are used to produce items on demand. Imagine, for $5 you can have a 500 page book within minutes. The book comes out perfect bound, with a full-color laminated cover. Amazing, isn't it?
Additional Link: The Future of Books (MIT Technology Review)
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