by Joe Waynick
Just when you thought it was safe to scout, the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) throws the bookselling industry for a loop.
No, I’m not talking about strong-tasting coffee. I’m talking about a print on demand (POD) printing press that instantly produces books one at a time.
These machines can be placed in traditional new and used bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, office supply stores, on campuses; just about anywhere books can be sold. And they’ll pump out brand new perfect bound books in just minutes. That's a big help to those who sell books online.
You walk into your favorite retailer where you buy books, saunter up to the book ordering department, and say, “I’ll take one copy of ‘A Catcher in the Rye’ please.”
A smiling sales clerk enters your order into a computer screen, presses the enter key, and somewhere in the back room, only a few feet away, the production process begins.
The Espresso Book Machine retrieves the text of your book from a master database it accesses through the Internet and begins to print the interior of the book. In addition, it retrieves the book’s artwork and simultaneously prints the cover on thick cover stock on a separate color printer.
Once the printing is done, the book is trimmed and bound with hot glue; producing a perfect bound paperback indistinguishable from any other book in the store.
What was just described is one possible future of Internet bookselling. A book production process so efficient that it can produce a printed book in less time than it takes to whip up a Caffe Americano. With this machine there are no shipping costs and no waiting for USPS to deliver your purchase.
Celebrate! That’s what you do. Print on demand technology like this literally makes book buying even more of an impulse buy for consumers. Virtually any book you want is instantly available for the asking in printed form.
The beauty of the Espresso Book Machine is that these books will frequently end up in all the same places book scouts hunt for used inventory to sell. Overall, inventory that’s available for resale will actually increase and you’ll make good money when you sell print on demand books.
The EBM is not widely used and it’s not certain if it ever will be. Surely, similar machines will be available in different markets. Those of us who sell used books online will discover that POD books are not only not a threat to our businesses, but that POD will increase the supply of resalable used books.
And you can take that to the bank! Good hunting.
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