The World of Book Publishing Is About to Change

by: Cabot

By Elyse Andrews

This week brought news of a major innovation in the book-publishing world. And Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) had nothing to do with it.

Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, unveiled the new $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, a publishing device that can print a paperback book at the push of a button.

The machine is pretty incredible: It can print a professionally bound book in four minutes for about $8!

Book lovers can request a tome that’s not in the store’s inventory and the Espresso can print it while they wait. Customers can also order books online and pick them up in the store or even have them delivered.

While the machine can be found in a few other bookstores, this is the first one in the Bay State and this particular machine includes Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) already digitized texts, greatly expanding the inventory. OnDemand Books, the machine’s creator, has about 1.6 million titles in its catalogue and with Google’s contribution, the total number of titles to choose from comes to about 3.6 million.

(Some of the other bookstores that will house the Espresso are: Boxcar and Caboose Bookshop & Café in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont; Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington; Village Books in Bellingham, Washington; and Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan.)

The machine has been dubbed the Paige M. Gutenborg at its Cambridge location and in a nod to history, the first book printed on it was the Bay Psalms Book, the first book ever printed in the U.S. (in Cambridge specifically) in 1640.

I live only a few miles from the Harvard Book Store and I can’t wait to check out the machine. As a real book-lover, I’ve been trying to decide whether to get something printed, especially since many previously hard to find titles will be available.

But what I’m most looking forward to is seeing this new technology in action. In my opinion, anything that brings books to people and encourages reading can’t be a bad thing.

What do you think of this new machine? Will it put book publishers out of business? Or will it encourage people to read more? Weigh in by commenting here.