For the past two years The American Book Center—with stores in Amsterdam and The Hague in the Netherlands—has had an Espresso Book Machine installed on site. The machine is capable of printing, binding and trimming a paperback book on demand in minutes and is linked to a database of various repositories (including Lightning Source publisher clients, Google public domain titles and Open Source Alliance Internet Archive) providing access to more than three million titles. The machine was invented by engineer Jeff Marsh and eventually licensed to On Demand Books and began appearing in universities and retail outlets worldwide from 2007. EBM books are also made available for global distribution through Ingram Content Group‘s subsidiary, Lightning Source.
EBM machines are becoming more widespread and recognisable at retail bookstores in large cities. Here is a recent piece from The American Book Center’s newsletter:
“Our Espresso Book Machines have been operating for almost two years now. One unexpected pleasure that has come with these EBMs has been the personal stories we discover behind each and every self-published book. We’ve met a sixteen year-old boy who printed his first full-length novel, a man who suprised his wife on her sixtieth birthday with a book collecting all the articles she ever wrote, and a married couple who printed forty years of wedded history as a keepsake, among many others. We feel proud and happy to be a small part of all these memories, and we hope to help create many more.”
“Another unexpected pleasure is to see exactly how wide and varied our customers cast their literary nets! Just take a look at the Recently-Printed-on-Our-Espresso-Book-Machine section on our homepage, and you might find such eye-catchers as The Astral Plane: Its Scenery, Inhabitants, and Phenomena; Stargazers and Gravediggers; and Zombie Apocalypse Preparation: How To Survive in an Undead World and Have Fun Doing It!“
Self-published authors are also benefiting from the wider availability of EBM’s as an operator can upload PDF book files not included in the EBM’s database. The American Book Center provide gift vouchers for use with the EBM and ran a writing competition to launch the arrival of the EBM in 2010 resulting in the publication of a book of winning entries under the company’s AnyBook Press.
Recently self-published on our Espresso Book Machine:
Recently printed on our Espresso Book Machine:
|The Genie Within: Your Subconcious Mind–How It Works and How to Use It
Carpenter, Harry W. €16.60
|Des Hermes Trismegists wahrer alter Naturweg
Hermes (Trismegistus.), I. C. H. €8.00
Christoph Barbarossa €11.20
|Feeling Is the Secret, Revised Edition
|Gay & Happy – het handboek voor de moderne homo (Dutch Language)
Van Lijnden, Steven €15.95
|How Much Land Does a Man Need? and Other Stories
Tolstoy, Leo Nikolayevich €14.30
However, the EBM is not the ideal answer for seasoned self-published authors. Printing fees are high (€12.50 for an initial operator handling fee, plus an additional print fee of €12.50 per copy (up to 200 pages and €0.06 per page thereafter), and €25 for an AnyBook Press ISBN if required). There are discounts available between 10% and 25% for orders over nine units, but realistically, this is merely an opportunity to get a title into the EBM database and available at the retail outlet for fan readers. EBM database access and far more would be achieved for an author working directly with the online DIY tools provided by Lulu or Smashwords. Full guidelines for submitting books to the EBM can be found here.
For me, the real appeal of the EBM is having access immediately to out-of-print books or books not normally stocked by a bookstore. With the EBM there is no waiting for a book to arrive days or weeks later on special order. However, The American Book Center has used the presence of its EBM to help enable and cultivate a thriving writing community (particularly among the English-speaking populous) with a self-publishing program and numerous author events throughout the week that bring writers and readers together under the one roof. Demonstrations of the EBM occur in both ABC stores in Amsterdam (Monday 18.30-19.30) and The Hague (Tuesday 18.00-19.00). Operating hours for both machines – 11.00 and 15.00, Sunday through Friday.