Behold, the Espresso Book Machine, which is more impressive and powerful than nine out of 10 Transformers. This beast has the capability to print a book for you right on the spot.
The mechanical marvel has yet to penetrate larger chains, but the Boston Globe found one in a Vermont indie store:
Officially known as the Espresso Book Machine, Lurch, as the employees call it, is a “print on demand” setup the size of a meat freezer that creates books for customers while they wait.
The publishing world is closely following the experiment at Northshire, the first independent bookstore in the United States to install the clattering book machine. If Northshire can make money printing books downloaded from massive online catalogs, it will show how small brick-and-mortar bookshops might be able to match the overwhelming variety of products offered by a giant online retailer like Amazon.com.
It could streamline the traditional book supply chain, with much less need for space in warehouses, inventory on hand, shipping expenses, or management of returns.
And no book ever has to go out of print.
Espresso’s print-on-demand technology could also change the dynamics of large bookstore chains. On Demand Books, the New York company that produces the book machine, has just launched a pilot program with a distributor, making 85,000 book titles from major publishers like Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill available to Espresso machines.
Espresso machines can also access thousands of titles that are in the public domain and available on the Internet.
It may not shoot lasers, rearrange its parts into a helicopter or let Megan Fox ride it, but the potential to change the publishing world is definitely summer blockbuster material.