Espresso Book Machine: Print On Demand in the Brick and Mortar Book Store

I don't know how many of you know about this wonderful yet pricy device made by Xerox, but check the video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDe_Jy4HnMY&feature=player_embedded

You can find a pdf brochure here.

Amazing, huh?  It has a hefty price tag, though.  $150,000 as a base price, but college libraries like The University of Michigan have been able to get it installed for a $50,000 discount.  There are a few independent book stores getting on board with these devices as well.  The books cost about $10.38 and retail for around $16.00.

I see pros and cons concerning this device:

Pros:

  • Book stores can print POD books in their store while customers wait.  It only takes a few minutes to print a paperback book, and the cost of the book is relatively the same as a traditionally published book.
  • Self-published authors like myself can keep a file on the machine of my books which can be sold in the store without worrying about the book not being returnable.  Book stores are more apt to keep and sell my book if it is simply a file in the computer.
  • Out of print books can be printed by this machine.
  • No warehousing.
  • Local authors can have a way to sell their books in the local book store, or people who want to simply publish a book for family can have it done locally at a reasonable price.
  • It gives a brick and mortar book store another sales option other than selling coffee or millions of other gimmicks (even though the coffee is really good).

Cons:

  • This machine is expensive.  I don't know too many shoestring budget book stores who are willing to take out a business loan to get this machine.  It's almost like buying a house.  One bookstore that uses the machine stated that it only garners 4% of the revenue for the store.  Is that enough to offset the hefty price tag?
  • Upkeep on this machine is a little pricy.  It uses a laser printer and the cartridges are usually very expensive.  There is also the matter of the paper being used.  What quality is necessary for publishing house books?
  • Space can be an issue.  If the book store is a small one, this machine takes up a pretty large area, and what are its power needs?

As always, I covet your thoughts and comments.  Please post here with any ideas.  Any of you book store owner/operators who read my blog have anything to say about this?  Do any of you use this machine?  I think my readers would like to know more about the practical side of using it.