Checked out the Espresso book machine today at McNally Jackson books. It’s an on-demand printer that can print and bind a single copy of a book. They had some samples out and it was quite impressive – I couldn’t tell the difference in quality from what came out of the machine and what was on the shelves.
They boast being able to print over 4 million copies, but just about all of those are public domain. Where it gets interesting their program for authors to self publish (and publishers participate too, where royalties are split upon each printing).
Now the distribution cost is nearly zero and someone can buy and hold a physical copy of your book. But you still run into the problems of shopping online, where unless your stuff is on the front page or featured, chances that someone will find it in the catalog without knowing what to look for are slim (aside from other sources and your own marketing).
I was surprised that there wasn’t a featured Espresso book table, filled not with stacks of books to buy, but featured books you can get printed on demand at the machine.
I first read about the Espresso Book Machine (there’s a few around the country, check out On Demand Books) in Monocle. How does a small bookstore compete with the unlimited inventory of Amazon and instant gratification of eBooks? The book machine brings the advantages of both to a brick and mortar store.
This lead me to wonder if we’ll see on-demand DVD printing? CreateSpace does it now, but online. Will we see a machine that will make a retail quality DVD (not the purple DVD-R disc) on demand from a massive library? Can there be a network of these machines in stores around the country, and all we have to do for distribution is upload the DVD image and artwork to a central server? What if you found them in movie theaters? Make yourself a copy of the film right after watching it.
At the right price this could be a new model and life for DVDs.