Espresso Book Machine: is this its best shot?

I’m a bit disappointed. I wanted to test out the Espresso Book Machine, the new printing gizmo that’s hyped up to be as revolutionary as the Gutenberg press. But I can’t, because it’s broken.

The UK’s first Espresso Book Machine is located on the ground floor of Blackwell’s bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London. (There’s a video of a demonstration model above.)

It prints ‘books on demand’ and its looks have been likened to a large photocopier, which is true. This truly is an unlovely piece of kit.

It’s meant to have thousands of titles ready for you to print in less than five minutes – around the time it takes to make a cup of coffee. You’re also invited to ‘become an author, print your own book’, which in theory could be handy if you wanted to go DIY on a small promotional print run.

But currently the sign on top says simply: ‘The Espresso machine is currently offline for essential maintenance and will be online again soon. Apologies for any inconvenience.’

A member of staff said it was working fine yesterday, but they don’t know when it’ll be back up and running – “probably this weekend”.

Let’s see what happens. I’ll report back soon.

Claire Fogg

(Publisher, Yearbooks, A&C Black)



Filed under Digital publishing

3 responses to “Espresso Book Machine: is this its best shot?

  1. have you had a chance to try again? I’m very intrigued by this idea!

  2. I looked again yesterday but it was still out of action – “computer says no” – so I am none the wiser just yet. There were a few sample books on display, which looked ok but the cover trim wasn’t aligned quite right. I’d like it more if it was a) working, or b) made espresso!


  3. The Espresso Book Machine is still languishing on the ground floor, seemingly all alone and unloved, but the reason it’s offline is because of a change of server (this is a problem with which I have some sympathy, for reasons I won’t go into here) so it won’t be working until the end of this week.

    To give you an idea, though: the machine does produce real, proper, bound paperback books with shiny covers, judging from the samples. You can print your own book from PDFs, which is a £15 initial charge, then 2p a page. The pages must be black and white, but the cover can be as colourful as you like, it just needs to be provided as an A3 PDF. If you want to buy a book from the catalogue, it costs about £9 for 300 pages.