Espresso Book Machine in the News

By | January 20, 2010

The Espresso Book Machine which we have written about on Digital Nirvana made news this week when Xerox announced a joint sales and marketing agreement with On Demand Books:

Yesterday, Xerox announced a joint sales and marketing agreement with On Demand Books wherein the Xerox 4112 Copier/Printer will be integrated with the Espresso Book Machine – a fully integrated solution that prints, binds and trims books with full color covers on demand in retail locations and libraries. The Espresso Book Machine can produce paperbacks in variable combinations of trim sizes between 4.5″ x 5.0″ and 8.25″ x 10.5″ for a production cost less than one cent per page and can produce a 300 page book in about 4 minutes.

If you watch this video released last September by Google you will notice the EBM has the Xerox 4112 print engine.

While the Espresso Book Machine has the potential to be a game changer, one Australian bookstore has taken the machine off its store floor to make room for traditional book merchandise. Print21 reports the EBM at Angus & Robertson in Melbourne, Australia failed to engage customers:

Patrick Gaskin, business development director at RedGroup Retail said that the decision to take the machine out of the store was due to logistics. “Space is at a premium in that store so the EBM was removed to make room for Christmas trade,” he said.

Staff from the Bourke Street store said that the machine had been moved to a warehouse. Currently, there is no option for anyone wanting to purchase or print any of the 100-plus books previously offered by Angus & Robertson.

Print21 cites low print and finishing quality of a sample they had printed at the Angus & Robertson:

The quality of the books printed, however, was disappointing. After paying $30 for one title, Print21 received a book with a chipped spine, off-centre titles and text that was almost too faint to read. A problem with the EBM also meant that the book had to be printed twice.

The EBM was originally configured with a lower end machine from Kyocera when it first came on the market.

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5 thoughts on “Espresso Book Machine in the News

  1. Steve Brown

    As the president of a large digital printer, and having an intimate understanding of what it takes to make a book, ensure its printed well, and that it has binding integrity – I am confident that it is a fallacy to think a self-run machine could meet the needs of our discerning public. When you can go online and order a book and have it delivered to your home within a few days (even if it is printed on demand), why would anyone want to hassle with this process unless it was an emergency (last minute book report for students – or something like that).

    Bookstores will not want to hassle with equipment downtime, returns associated with bad quality, raw materials management, and other manufacturing details.

    This is going to be a failed experiment.

  2. Noel Ward

    Don’t count on this not working. Instant gratification matters.

    As for quality, you make an excellent point, but production class printing and binding are no guarantees of quality. I’ve received on-demand printed books from Amazon (done by one of their digital print partners) that had the covers fall off.

    In-store will not replace regular book manufacturing, but it will change the way the game is played. It’s early days and I’m guessing this will work.

  3. Bob Raus

    I like the idea overall, but the engineer in me tells me the system I saw on YouTube is too complicated to be reliable over time. This doesn’t mean it will fail, but that it needs another generation (or two) to mature. It remains to be seen if the market will be intrigued enough to let it get that far. I hope so!

  4. Michael J

    On the question of quality, it’;s important to remember the conversations around cold type, then computer type, the desktop color separations. Like most disruptive innovations the first couple of versions can not compete with the quality of the established technology.

    It’s important to remember that “good enough” is decided by the person who is buying it, not by the person producing it.

    I agree with Bob’s point. Right now it looks much too clunky and from what I know too expensive. On the other hand I will never forget the 22 lb Kaypro computer that was “portable”

    My take is that an ATM for books is too strong an experience not to have traction. It’s till an open question whether Xerox +espresso will be able to dominate a new market becuase they are first in the game.

    The output technology is probably not very hard to duplicate. While Espresso has locked up traditional publishers with business deals, there is a huge amount of open source content on the web that is struggling to enter the real world in printed form. There are many data points, but folks might take a look first at PediaPress in Germany that sells printed book versions of wikipedia.

  5. Stefano M

    I’ve seen the espresso with a Konica Minolta engine (6501, I think). I agree that Kyocera would have been a poor choice but the Konica Minolta would be the best option for quality, stock, and reliability; especially since I’m sure the espresso’s capabilities will have to be honed before it is mass marketed. Perhaps cost was the determining factor as the 4112’s cpp is slightly lower.

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