I know it’s been around for a couple of years now, but this is new to me.  Before a few days ago, I never heard of the Espresso Book Machine (EBM).  For those of you who may have been living in that cave alongside me, The EBM is Print on Demand taken to the most logical level of convenience.

The scenario goes something like this.  Little Jimmy needs a copy of Aldous Huxley’s  A Brave New World for a project at school.  Unfortunately, every school in the area is also studying Huxley’s work, and the local brick-and-mortar store has sold out.

But wait!! Little Jimmy doesn’t have to leave empty-handed if there is an EBM in the area.  Simply search on the EBM for the title (or type in the ISBN if you have it), and watch the magic of modern technology as the EBM downloads a pre-formatted digital copy of the book, prints, and binds it for you right before your eyes.  From all reports, the quality is excellent, not like the old POD books that have given the industry such a bad name for so long. The EBM uses high quality paper, full color covers, and trims the books to proper size.  When complete, it spits out a brand new, high quality book that you can immediately open to get that “new book” smell. And it does it at a price that is competitive with those found in the brick-and-mortars!

The tech is new, and there are currently very few of these bastions of literary magic in existence.  But they are beginning to catch on, and it is an obvious next step in the POD experience that links digital format and state of the art print technology with the “I need it now” demand of today’s consumer.

Also, if they take it to what I think should be the next logical step, it will provide yet another outlet for the beginning or mid-list author to get his or her books to the public.  The way I see it, this is another chance for the current “traditional” publishing houses to embrace modern technology and business models and salvage their floundering businesses.  If they don’t, it could be yet another nail in the coffin for them.

Unfortunately if past history is any indicator, I’m guessing it will be the latter.