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The Espresso Book Machine … not a coffee

It is a machine to make books one and at the time, which will produce a major change in the publishing activity.

“Printed books at the point of sale in minutes, to take them away immediately or be sent”

 The best espresso machines for under $200 was presented as the great attraction of the recent Salon du Livre Paris, installed so that the public can get familiar with it , in the stands two prestigious publishers, Presses Universitaires de France, and group La Martiniere (including among others Seuil, Métailié, L’Olivie).

These machines print and bind at the time almost any existing book in the world, are already operating in bookstores in London and New York, and more and morelibraries campus in US universities.

It is a still a bit larger than the old apparatus photocopiers, internet connected to a centralized storage and data search. A client requests a book, the machine locates prints on paper inside the cover and in another, binds, and ten minutes later by the outlet port expels the finished book. A book of good quality (I’ve seen) 220 pages, ittakes 7 minutes. “New York booksellers invite the customer to wait this time sipping coffee” reports Le Monde .

This system of printing a copy of any book that a client requests, called “Print on demand” (print on demand), was developed by the company Ricoh of Japan ten years ago, and has been progressing as decreased volume and the cost of the machine. For some years the Print on demand is an option offered by the online bookstoreAmazon.com , to any order from a book that does not have in stock.

Publishers, agents and authors have recently signed thousands of authorizations and extensions of contracts to include print on demand, which like all new technological development did not exist until now in options transfer of copyright to the publisher. The bookstore and the author charge for each book values usual in the world of paper books.

How wonderful, no more tired books!

The first thing I thought before this technological breakthrough is that finally the historical catalog of a publisher is all available, that finally the “back list” full of an author (all his work published previously) may get, which since several years is increasingly difficult, in any country in the world. We can not ask libraries with all books, only in Castilian published over one hundred thousand new ones every year.

So grew the specialized bookstores, that work on a single subject can have a good assortment, and acquired value, with the advent of the Internet, libraries used books, as abbooks.com , of which I am a regular customer, a network computer of French origin, through which you can buy used existing in more than one thousand libraries around the world, to which the page abbooks redirects orders, which will be shipped and charged by each library, wherever you are books. With the virtual disappearance of the books that have more than a couple of years of publication of traditional bookstores, abbooks grew so much that Amazon and bought.

What we asked readers to traditional booksellers, was that the title that we had they succeeded quickly. Today it is a requirement that few can meet, and I fear that those who give this service are doing so at a loss.

The new machine has an Italian name not casually: Espresso Book Machine, in obvious allusion to quick coffee that you take in ten minutes Ten minutes! Me too reminds me of Nespresso , the machine with capsules in a few years completely changed the coffee business. Nestle, its owner, multiplied several times its market value, because it got coffee producers to charge much less, and consumers pay more.

Look at the picture of this library, which announced the service in a special marquee.It is a library with walls covered with books on the shelves. The first thing that occurred to me was to see: the dry cleaners stain removers ¿sell?

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Service efficiency of the Espresso Book Machine is truly shocking, the book price does not vary and the quality is good. I have seen some and found them well printed, the cover exactly the same, and only note that a printed copy is especially because “the machine” still can not cover flap. Something that certainly resolved.

Looking over the picture, I thought what will make sense to continue to keep those books, they have to buy, pay and wait for someone from buying them ? Maybe when they go already selling not reset and gain space for coffee who expect printing their books. And if all goes well, the space now occupied by the bookshelves will allow, when removed, put a second and even a third machine. When it looks like any copy shop will it still be a bookstore? Why not, it may be as manuscripts , which years ago no longer exist but still call the same.

 I propose that technological gadgets, says the philosopher Roberto Casati in El Pais, are accompanied by a drug similar to where we explain the dangers we run to use prospect.

French publishers , according to Le Monde say it is the revenge of the paper book on the ebook , Americans talk about sustainable business , which allows not destroy the forests , all desires very politically correct, but they hide the truth . In France the e-book isbarely 3% of total book sales, similar to Spain and Germany. In the United States, where he arrived promptly at 25%, almost three years ago stalled. Now it seems tostart a new trend, because there are market studies are finding that the so – called “digital natives , ” young people who were born in front of the screen, are preferring to read books on paper .

The Casati philosopher mentions a study conducted in major US universities shows that more than 90% of students prefer to study with books on paper. The libraries campus , as they are called in the United States to those operating within a university, must have been the first to notice, and so are installing the Espresso Book Machine.

I never found the e-book was a danger to the paper book, but this machine, and its side effects , makes me doubt the future of the publishing industry.

Remove “the uncertainty of sale”

Behind the praise of the French, the training of many new managers in the world of publishing is perceived. The management up to a reinsurance company and investment, which owns the traditional Presses Universitaires de France , said the immediate printing on demand, economies of scale will disappear . And the general director of the publishing added with printing on demand a title is much more easily profitable because a book made equivalent to a book sold. Uncertainty about the sale disappears .

A few years ago I read a study that found that two – thirds of people entering a bookstore have decided what to buy . So they say that the book is a business supply, not demand: the books have to be there. Designers are desperate to make attractive covers, publishers do best cover texts, publishers printed and distributed several thousand copies of each title, especially for some of those undecided readers decide to buy it .

If the libraries are venues replace it by Espresso Book Machine how can we do so that the undecided readers to decide what to buy to read or give away? The big question is: is it possible to transform a business deal on one demand?

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Bookshop El Ateneo, the largest in Buenos Aires

A new conception of the publishing industry

The work of the editor will remain, as always, quite similar: how to choose and ensure quality, unique way to build value in a publishing house . But it will be very different for the publishing company. It will be published but not published as yet.Only a few copies are printed for the author, I any more for critics who prefer to read on paper, and completely change the publishing business.

We must continue investing in issue: Vesting, translation, proofreading, design, but what today represents the largest cost of a publishing house, which is the industry (paper, printing and binding), storage, marketing and logistics distribution may be minimized or even disappear. A publisher would be reduced to the essential: a catalog of authors and works, and a good computer system. A large publisher will not use more than a dozen professionals. As experts say: a step closer to society without work And this possibility is an exercise worth thinking!

Technological progress is not something that can be stopped, nor can think if it’s good or bad, because it is an overwhelming reality that can not escape. I see it in my daily practice, lover and defender of bookstores as I am aware of their role and necessity, I can not help but buy a book from Amazon, because I can not find another way to get it.

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