20.06.08 | Anna Richardson
So, Blackwell is getting on-demand printer the Espresso Book Machine--very exciting.
Blackwell c.e.o. Vince Gunn described the "ATM for books", which allows customers to print paperbacks on demand, as "trailblazing and pioneering", and it certainly promises an exciting future--a world where "no book will ever have to be out of print", as Gunn says.
At the moment, the printer can access around one million titles, and its US owner On Demand Books is in discussion with publishers about adding their content.
But as fascinating as questions about the future of this pioneering device are, there is a more immediately pressing matter: its looks.
With the enticing "Espresso" moniker conjuring images of gleaming steel perfection--from the retro-charm of stove-top moka pots to the futuristic DeLonghi BAR32 machine--you might expect a bit of a wow-factor.
But the image that will greet customers come the autumn is something more like this:
"That's the most boring picture ever--it looks like our photocopier!" came the cry from the Bookseller's production desk on press day, and the EBM is certainly no oil painting.
Gunn himself admits that it is "first generation", and in a Bookseller roundtable on the future said that "there are a hundred things wrong with it".
The first machine to make it onto the Blackwell shop floor this autumn is the 1.5 version, so it's indeed early days yet.
And the excitement when that freshly ground, printed, bound and trimmed paperback pops out--with four-colour cover to boot--will surely make up for a lack in its creator's looks department.