Blackwell’s Espresso Book Machine – a jolt to the industry?

Last week Blackwell announced its Espresso Book Machine – basically a mini printing press that can print and bind a book in five minutes. The plan is to use this amazing device to offer people access to all of the out of print and hard to find titles that they desire – therefore making it easy to track down that, previously elusive, manuscript down.

Like the chief executive of Blackwells said, it could fundamentally change bookselling as we know it. But will it definitely be for the better? I adore the idea of always knowing that I could walk into a shop on any given day and within a few minutes have my hands on a hot new copy of whatever it is I’m looking for. But if the concept really takes off, what if publishers drastically cut print runs?

It makes sense from an environmental point of view, so I guess I can’t really complain about any possibility of reducing wastage. But it seems like it could have pretty scary consequences – for example, by discouraging publishers for the need to advertise or establish particular books seeing as they would have nothing to lose if they had no danger of excess printing costs.

The device is already being used in a number of locations around the world, but I’ll be very interested to see how it fares in the UK. And if I lived a little bit closer you can be sure I’d be having a go! And maybe even printing off a manuscript or two that I know would never see the light of day otherwise.