Espresso Book Machine Arrives in UK Bookstores


Some of you may remember reading on this site almost a year ago about the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). The machine is a printing press that will produce physical books in-store by means of print-on-demand technology. In effect, it is an on-demand book machine linked to an electronic database of published books. Here is the article we first commented on this in-store technology.

The Espresso Book Machine was the invention of the On Demand Books company. Originally it was aimed at the library and bookstore market and the machine works independently of a publisher and is compact enough to fit in most reasonably sized retail bookstores. The machine works by utilising a book’s electronic PDF file from a database. The first ever Espresso Book Machine was installed and demonstrated on June 21 2007 at the New York Public Library and a handful of bookstores in the US now have the machine. Newsstand claims to have already printed some 500+ titles in perfect bound paperback since it made use of the first machine last October.

Newsstand is confident that it will be able to create a demand for ‘on the spot’ printed books and is planning to charge £10 for a standard paperback version and £14 for a large print book. With more publishers signing up with Newsstand, the database should increase but prices may vary. Blackwell Books, also based in the UK, had hoped to be the first company to install these machines last summer, but following delays their first installed machine will not appear until spring of this year at its bookstore in Charing Cross, London.



  1. Self-Publishing Review said:

    This will change everything. Everything. Almost makes me weepy – widespread use of the EBM will be the thing to break open the self-publishing industry. Perhaps the thing to finally legitimize self-publishing.

    Love your site. Please contact SPR if you’re interested in expanding your writing about self-publishing to another site:

  2. Mick Rooney said:

    There has been much talk in POD publishing circles about the use of the Espresso machines and the affect it will have on self publishing.

    I think we need to look at the motivations and reasons for the use of the machines in-store at the moment. So far, any retail outlet operating these machines have been concentrating on a very specific range of books, ‘out of copyright’ and select publishers back catalogue. Far from an ‘open’ floodgate policy.

    What I mean is – I’ve yet to hear of one of these nine machines with ‘open’ access to anything in print. So it seems before these machines can ‘take off’ so to speak, there would need to be some agreement or liciencing with publishers as to what electronic book files could be accessed. I think it’s all still a bit fuzzy, and will remain so until the machines reach far wider use.

    Regarding self publishing, I can only see a real affect happening when we have machines in many high street book stores and some large book distributor/wholesaler like say, Ingram/LSI, or dare I say it, an online retailer like Amazon/Booksurge muscling in on things. The key is always going to be how open publishers are to having their books so easily available. This may seem like a ‘no brainer’ for publishers particularly in the recession we are in at the moment, but it all comes down to how many publishers are equipted to provide electronic data for these machines and indeed how willing. Many are still very traditionally based, a suprising number have yet to embrace ebooks, ‘print on demand’ fulfillment, let alone an in-store book machine.

    Ultimately, yes, in theory, this should be a good thing for self publishing, but it will always come down to who administrates and ‘polices’ the system which will dictate if self published authors can access the database of the machines directly without neccessarily having to use a POD publisher or an author solutions service.