Blackwell introduces book printing on demandIn-store machine prints books in five minutes

24 April 2009

The Blackwell Espresso Book Machine

The Blackwell Espresso Book Machine (EBM) in action

The bookseller Blackwell has unveiled an in-store machine that allows customers to print books in around five minutes.

The Espresso Book Machine, otherwise known as the EBM, will be available to be used by customers from April 27 in Blackwell's flagship store at 100 Charing Cross Road, London.

Print books as you wait

Customers will be able to choose any book from the online catalogue, and then have them printed, bound and trimmed as they wait.

The service will be launched with more than 400,000 titles available to print, and Blackwell states that there will be more than one million titles available by the summer.

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Customers will also be able to print their own books from CDs and flash drives, and large text options will be available for people with impaired vision. Blackwell claims that the finished product will be identical to books found in a bookshop, and that the EBM can print at a rate of 105 pages per minute.

Out-of-print books

The service, although currently limited to one store, is likely to please consumers looking for out-of-print books. While rare books can sometimes be tracked down on the internet, the EBM will provide a quicker service and a brand new version of the text required.

If Espresso Book Machines catch on, then it will be easier to match supply with demand, reduce transportation costs and eliminate the pulping of unwanted returns.

Books printed on the EBM must be between 40 and 830 pages, and a variety of sizes will be available. The cost of books printed on the EBM will be the same as books currently stored in store.

Andrew Hutchings, CEO of Blackwell, said: 'The EBM is set to change the publishing and book retailing industry by offering more choice to consumers, eliminating unwanted returns and helping to reduce a book's carbon footprint. Blackwell is delighted to be the first bookstore in the UK to be pioneering and driving this exciting new technology forward.'

More details in the Which? first look review of the Blackwell EBM.

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