Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The instant book machine

I'm intrigued by this video, showing the workings of a newish gizmo called the Espresso Book Machine. It's not exactly mass production, but in book shops you can use it to order up out-of-print or hard-to-find books, if you can find what you want in the retailer's database. I am not sure how this will work in terms of author's copyright. This is becoming a very complicated world.
However, self-publishers are intrigued by this idea (print your family history,with pictures, for instance), though if you want a thousand copies of something, getting it bulk-printed is still far cheaper. It is of course a great way to make instant books look good, no matter how tedious or unreadable the content may be.(Yay! The world still needs editors, designers and proof readers.)
This video shows the machine in action with book retailer Blackwell's UK, and Angus & Robertson are also doing it in Australia, with eventual plans to put 50 of these machines in shops across Oz and New Zealand.
It's funny, though, that while it's undoubtedly clever, there's something about this machine's whirring noises and moving parts that make it seem kind of steam age - a throw-back rather than a step forward, and more akin to Gutenberg than Digital Age. It takes 15 minutes to print an average book, and costs the same as buying one ready-made.

Check it out

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