by Raelene Gorlinsky
Have you seen the Espresso Book Machine? It has been described as "an ATM for books". Yep, push a few buttons and a print book pops out the slot!
The system accesses a massive inventory of print books: public domain books via Google plus the print backlist of a growing number of participating publishers (including EC very soon).
A customer walks into a store or library and wants a print book and can’t find it on the shelf? If that store has an EBM, and that print book is in the available catalog, the customer can just request the book, go get something to drink at the bookstore’s coffee shop, and come back in five or ten minutes to pick up their book! And the book is a very nice quality with a four-color cover.
So far there are over 80 machines in bookstores, libraries and universities around the world. Powell's, the famous ginormous used bookstore in Portland, Oregon, has one. There are several at universities in Canada. There are two in Abu Dhabi, UAE; one in China, two in Japan, two in Australia. The Library of Alexandria in Egypt has three!
It's fun to watch this thing in operation. I got to see it at the McNally Jackson Bookstore during a recent trip to New York. You can watch it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q946sfGLxm4