Back in 2007, Time Magazine named the Espresso Book Machine one of its inventions of the year. The Espresso, now on version 2.0, costs around $150,000 and is an on-demand printing press that features some nifty robotics. It can output a professional-looking paperback book in about four minutes (see the video below).
On Demand Books, founded in 1993, has been slowly making some headway with its product, even if the current machine costs a good deal more than Time said it would in its 2007 article. The blog Publishing Perspectives has an interesting piece on how the University of Texas Co-op--the most profitable independent college bookstore in the United States--has purchased an Espresso Book Machine and is aiming is to "revolutionize how the store does business and interacts with the local community." About 15 other university bookstores have bought the compact printing press, which looks like an elaborate copy machine.
Where the machine comes in most handy is for "narrow interest" titles or important out-of-print and low-demand backlist titles that it doesn't make economic sense for a small press to print. PDFs of those books are stored on a server and can be printed out on request for a much more affordable price. Many of these books are textbooks that would normally retail for well over $50. … Read more