Bookshop revolution with while-u-wait printing contraption

24 April 2009

Keen readers will soon be able to buy books printed while they wait with a new service from Blackwells in London’s Charing Cross Road.

The EBM (Espresso Book Machine) will be able to bang out a tome from a catalogue of 400,000 titles in just a few minutes, giving the customer a book that Blackwells say will be identical to one that would be found on the shelf.

Readers will also be able to print out books from CDs and flash drives, meaning they’ll be able to get hard copies of out-of-print works that have been archived online.

If it proves a success and is rolled out around the country, the EBM will help reduce the pulping of unsold books as well as cutting down on pollution caused by transporting books to and from warehouses.

Despite its name, the Espresso WON’T also serve coffee to customers, so for that reason alone, we’re giving it a big Bitterwallet THUMBS DOWN!

13 comments

  • thekanester
    > as well as cutting down on pollution caused by transporting books to and from warehouses. So, the distribution of books to 200 large bookshops will be cheaper than the distribution of raw materials to 1000 mini book-printing shops? You clearly haven't thought that through, have you...
  • thekanester
    ...and when I said cheaper, I in fact meant "not cheaper"...but the point still stands. A centralised large-scale production facility is ALWAYS cheaper than smaller, distributed manufacturing plants. Economies of scale and all that.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    Yeah but hard copies of books don't scale. Book printers have to guess the market and make huge runs of printing to fulfill their estimate. That means you might print 100k copies but only sell 40k. The other 60k are shuffled around and sit on shelves for ages. If you look at the book publishing industry there is a very rapidly falling curve of huge bestsellers on the left and then a really really really long tail. It has to be more efficient to only print the best sellers in big runs and do all the middle and long tail print on demand. So the point stands :)
  • thekanester
    Nowhere in either of my posts did I say that it wouldn't reduce the pulping of unsold books. I only commented on the outlandish distribution-savings claims. It seems to be the trend of late to throw in a couple of disposable comments about how 'green' your new widget is in the hope that it'll be picked up by more news sites. So I think you'll find that my point still stands. And your comment wasn't really needed.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    So printing, transporting, and storing books only to pulp them in the end is more green than transporting paper and ink to multiple printing stations? The distribution has to be more efficient too. I don't know the number on the long tail but I bet it's at least 50% inefficient (i.e. half the volume of a title shipped will never be sold). Wouldn't it make more sense to send supplies to print 10 copies of 10 titles (let's call that 100 units needed) compared to rather than sending 20 copies of 10 titles (200 units)? We can just discuss the point without getting nasty :)
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    p.s. I agree the pollution from transport trucks is the least of the concern compared to the waste going in to all the other aspects of production and distribution here.
  • Mr H.
    thekanester go home...
  • Amanda H.
    Another wind up? Like the kitkat dispenser, or the pizza machine? pfft
  • thekanester
    >So printing, transporting, and storing books only to pulp them in the end is more green than transporting >paper and ink to multiple printing stations? To reiterate a second time; that's not what I said at all. My ONLY claim was that distributing x books to y outlets is cheaper than distributing x books to z outlets, where y The distribution has to be more efficient too. I don’t know the number on the long tail but I bet it’s at >least 50% inefficient (i.e. half the volume of a title shipped will never be sold). Wouldn’t it make more >sense to send supplies to print 10 copies of 10 titles (let’s call that 100 units needed) compared to >rather than sending 20 copies of 10 titles (200 units)? Clearly. But once again - never said that wasn't so. With respect.
  • thekanester
    @ Mr Willy Head No respect for you, however, you little piss ant. Either make a valid contribution to the discussion or go back to sucking on yo momma's teat.
  • C
    @thekanester Wow, you're an arrogant tw@ aren't you. Have a nice wank and calm down a bit.
  • eyeofgod
    Seems cheaper to me - you send the raw materials to 1000 small bookshops and only the books people want get produced/sold. Send x amount of books to 200 large bookstores and you end up having to collect half of those to pulp. You can't discount ALL the distribution involved.
  • Elvis
    why do they have to pulp unsold books? Schools in Africa would be gratefull to have them I can tell you. Even a million titles sold at £1 each would raise £1million to pay for a CT Scanner for my Charity in Africa...

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