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Insta-book maker signs agreement with Xerox

January 14, 2010 |  2:41 pm


Today, On Demand Books, the company that makes the Espresso instant book machine, announced an agreement with Xerox to use one of its printers. With the Xerox 4112, the Espresso Book Machine can produce a 300-page book in less than four minutes, and print more than 40,000 paperback books in a year. 

Previously, the Espresso had used other printers; you'd buy the Espresso -- these days, its most current model is the Espresso 2.0 -- and the printer separately. Now you can purchase the complete printer-bookmaking package, from Xerox.

The insta-book machines are coming, it has been announced, to seven new venues this year. Most places where they'll be found are university libraries and bookstores. That's because the retail cost isn't well-suited for a small shop -- the whole kit and caboodle retails for around $125,000.

Uses may include printing from the more than 2 million public domain books that are available through an agreement with Google and printing other research materials. But you might not be able to get the latest bestseller printed just for you -- on the whole, publishers have been slow to embrace the Espresso due to concerns about digital files and piracy.

Nevertheless, the utility of the Espresso or other machines like it is undeniable. Printing books as needed gets rid of two challenges facing publishing: shipping and returns. The agreement with Xerox makes the process a little more streamlined for those who want to have an Espresso of their very own, like Boston's independent Harvard Book Store, which has named its machine Paige M. Gutenborg.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Xerox's 4112 and the Espresso machine. Credit: On Demand Books