Friday 26 February 2010

Any Pastries with That?

I've only just found out about this - it's an Espresso Book Machine (there's more about it here), and it might soon be replacing a bookshop near you (assuming there are any left). It's a beguiling idea, with the potential to deliver any book you fancy into your hands, printed and bound, in a matter of minutes and at very little cost. It might even mean that authors see a bit more money, but you wouldn't want to count on that. On the other hand, it's surely a move too far along the road already set out by the internet - the availability from somewhere in the wired world, via a few keystrokes, of virtually any book you're likely to want (usually at way below bookshop price). The adventurous realm of epic book searches and serendipitous finds on the shelves of real bookshops is dwindling all the time, as even charity shops become increasingly market-savvy - again largely thanks to the internet. No doubt bookshops will always survive in some form (if only selling second-hand POD book from Espresso machines), but there will surely be even fewer of them. Will most of our future book buying be via a glorified photocopier, with booksellers reduced to the role of baristas? It's not a very cheering thought.


  1. I have been collecting rare and vintage books for the last five years with every intention of opening a secondhand bookshop, either this year or next. I have well over 12,000 books in storage at the moment, with more being added every time I visit a charity shop or a garage sale. I want to make it just the type of shop you seem to enjoy: old-fashioned, not too organized, with interesting out of print volumes tucked away in the corners.

    These machines don't bother me too much. I even have a Kindle. I mostly read magazines and newspapers on it, but I do buy an occasional book. I have high hopes for the Harry Potter generation. I think they will buy in all formats: instant printouts and kindle versions for some titles and texts, and good old-fashioned books for creating a library. And there will always be the bibliomaniacs like me, who can't pass a bookshop without buying something, even though I have stacks of unread books next to the chair...

  2. Looks like it was manufactured in the under the third railway arch at the back of Kings Cross premises of Messrs Heath Robinson & co.
    Ask it to knock out a complete Waverley novels set and a hand waving a white flag appears.
    Already tried a couple of printed on demand books, took three weeks and came from Italy.
    The German Government has started digitizing every piece of paper it and the Lander have, all official documentation and the contents of museums, libraries and repositories. The intention is to store the data in a form which can be read by EBook readers.
    A sort of new millenium book Kindleing.

  3. Look on the bright side: baristas are generally better looking than booksellers - and probably more entertaining, as most are out of work actors.

  4. it is a great article for book reader.machines are great but read directly from a book is more comfortable and pleasure to read.

  5. Great delivery. Great arguments. Keep up the good work.

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