x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A new chapter begins for self-publishing

The Life: The Espresso Book Machine is coming online in this region for bookstores, libraries and businesses wanting to print titles on demand--for $190,000.

The Espresso Book Machine. On Demand Books LLC via Bloomberg News
The Espresso Book Machine. On Demand Books LLC via Bloomberg News

Electronic readers offer one level of convenience, but bookworms who want to print their own titles at home can now do so using the Espresso Book Machine - available for just US$190,000 (Dh697,908).

Granted, this machine was conceived by Xerox for bookshops, libraries and universities that can access millions of copyrighted, public domain and out-of-print titles through software to print and bind a book in minutes.

But the equipment is now available through Xerox and its resellers in the Middle East, with two models being used "pre-launch" in the UAE.

"Traditionally, the economics of book production required that large quantities of a title be printed, warehoused and then distributed into the retail channel or sold in larger quantities to users like educational institutions or libraries," says JP Teti, the manager of production technology at Xerox for the Middle East and Africa.

"The challenges associated with this model are primarily obsolescence of printed material over time, large initial investments and carrying costs of inventory over time."

As a result, Mr Teti notes, only titles that were projected for blockbuster status actually made it to bookstores in many cases. "This left a lot of potentially valuable content unavailable for mass distribution."

Today, the Espresso is being used by OnDemandBooks.com to target aspiring writers who want to self-publish.

The oversized photocopier can also be found in bookstores in US states such as Vermont, Utah and Washington. The Harvard Book Store, in Massachusetts, is selling more than 120 titles, including the academic work Gilles Deleuze and the Fabulation of Philosophy, printed on its machine. Lighter titles such as Sugar Rush: A Cupcake Club Romance are also available.

In this region, the Espresso has been displayed at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new, high-tech library in Alexandria, Egypt. A library guide there recently said that visitors would one day be able to print off their own books.

A library representative could not be reached for comment.

nparmar@thenational.ae