Espresso Book Machine On Demand Books

As an unabashed vending machine fanatic and someone who’s been involved with the publishing industry for the better part of my adult life, I’ve long been intrigued by the Espresso Book Machine, owned by On Demand Books. There are currently more than seven million titles available in On Demand Books’ digital network, and on January 30, HarperCollins Christian Publishing joined the Espresso Book Machine program, making its titles available through EBM’s “digital-to-print at retail” sales channel. (HarperCollins’ six-month-old expanded Christian publishing division is comprised of two formerly independent publishers, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan.)

“Christian and inspirational content is an ideal fit for the EBM,” said Dane Neller, CEO of On Demand Books, in a release. “Stores can now make titles available to customers that may not be on display on the shelves.”

On January 17, it was announced that Penguin Group had also joined the Espresso Book Machine network.

The EBM, for those of you not familiar with it, is the only digital-to-print at-retail solution on the market today. With the push of a button, a title can be printed with a full-color cover, bound, and trimmed to any standard size. In a matter of minutes, it emerges from the EBM as a bookstore-quality paperback book, which the customer can pay for and walk out the store with, right then and there. Genius!


  1. In the video, we see “A Tale of Two Cities” being purchased for $12.89, a curious choice for a promotional video since this title is available for free in six different formats from Project Gutenberg (see:
    I recall working on a POD scheme in the 80s using AppleWriter on an Apple IIe and using an Apple Laserwriter back in the mid 80s so I can certainly appreciate what has been accomplished here. However, I have to wonder if it is not too late to make a real difference. I believe that I read somewhere that the EBM costs c. $200k. How many books do you have to sell before you start making money with it? Surely, someone has taken this question up.cost-effectiveness of expresso book machine. I don’t imagine that it would be an easy analysis though.

  2. The ‘POD in a bookstore’ always sounds like a great idea until you look at the underlying economics. Willing to bet that not a single retail bookstore has made back their investment in such a machine, and that goes for rental as well.

  3. Financially it does not matter if its rented or leased. Somebody has to pay for that. I would imagine it is part of the service and “Wow” effect they wish to provide.

    Also you need to thing about reduced warehouse/storage/transport etc. costs when using this machine.

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