Wow: The Espresso Book Machine
From the press release:
Blackwell, the UK’s leading academic bookseller, has unveiled the launch of the 2.0 Espresso Book Machine (EBM) at its flagship store, 100 Charing Cross London. It is the first bookshop installation of its kind within the UK, allowing any book to be selected from an inexhaustible network of titles and prints on demand in just 3 minutes from a digital file onsite, online at www.blackwell.co.uk, or uploaded in person from CDs or flash drives.
This bad boy whips up a book in three minutes. Go on to read more about the implications of such a device.
My take: This is definitely a much more ecologically sustainable process than the standard model of book production, which is exciting. It also completely removes the barrier of entry to producing a book, which, I’d argue, is a very ‘good’ thing; the more art the better. It’s happening all around us; the availability of cheap means of production means that anyone with a computer and a camera can make a movie, anyone with a computer near this behemoth or Lulu.com can make a book, anyone with a computer and Garageband/Audible can make music, etc. Distribution will be the sticking point in media for awhile, and it’s going to get messy. I look forward to help making the mess.
What do you think?
EDIT: Also, a thin treatise on paperback vs. hardback after the jump…
So, in as few words as possible: I’d like to see the disappearance of the hardback book. The only argument I can stand behind for them is that of ‘quality’, i.e. it won’t yellow and fall apart in fifty years. But, c’mon, printing presses are sophisticated (obviously). A high-quality paperback book should last a very long time. They’re more portable, lighter, smaller, less destructive in production, and cheaper. Why not?