Monday, April 18, 2011

The Espresso Book Machine Is Here

by Lupe Fernandez

Sorry, the Espresso Book Machine doesn’t make cappuccino mocha lattes with skim milk. The EBM, manufactured by On Demand Books, prints books. The Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada uses an in-house database to access 3 million titles from Google Books and Lightning Source. The EBM downloads a title, transmits the pages to print on either cream or white paper, and then binds and trims the resulting book.

The Flintridge Bookstore has had the EBM for 8 weeks. Grant Paules, the in-house technical expert, has been taking time to get the EBM into a “comfortable state” of readiness. At a demonstration on Sunday, April 10th, Grant downloaded Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine by William Carew Hazlitt, via the Mac Mini, transmitted the file to the Kyrocera printer.

The 166 cream colored pages - nicer and thicker, though paper choice depends on the type of book spine – shot through out of the printer via air pneumatics into the EBM where the pages and color book cover were bound with hot glue heated to 349 degrees Fahrenheit. 

After gluing, the book was trimmed to its dimensions of 9.2” x 6.14”. The finished product was deposited into a plastic bin. The time from download to completion was 8 minutes, including several minutes for Grant to allow the demonstration attendees a proper view. The pages were warm to the touch. The noise was similar to a low humming copy machine.

Currently, the EBM prints only black and white, however, Grant said the Flintridge Bookstore may acquire a color printer within the year, depending on demand. 

The titles from Google Books are out of print or in public domain and all titles have to be on the bookstore’s database. The bookstore pays royalties for the book and no titles are obtained off Amazon, yet. Since Google originally scanned their books for digital archiving and not printing, many of the pages retain fingerprints, handwriting, smudge and other marks.

The Flintridge Bookstore has several price options for self-publishing authors. Among the services are proof copies, formatting, obtaining ISBN, store placement (in the Flintridge Bookstore), and cover design.

“We’ll tailor the package to the customers’ needs,” said Grant. There is no minimum for the number of books printed.

Eventually self-published books will be attached to the bookstore’s website, so customers can buy self-published books from the Flintridge bookstore on demand.

Right now there are 12 to 15 machines in the United States. Only two EBMs exist in California. One machine is in Los Angeles and the other at UC San Diego.

The Pen And Ink Blog would like to thank Grant Paules for demonstrating the Espresso Book Machine and answering numerous questions.

If you have questions about the printing books or self-publishing on the Espresso Book Machine, contact Grant Paules at


  1. Very interesting. Thanks for this. I didn't make it to the event -- so I'm glad you did.

    I really do prefer my cappuccino with skim milk though.

  2. The EBM can trim and glue your cappuccino.
    Write Book for Food

  3. This is really interesting! I wonder if there will be a lot more of these, along with more indie bookstores popping up now that the big chains are flailing.

  4. Kathy,
    As Mr. Paules, EBM tech extraordinaire, said: "...if there's a demand."
    Flailing Bookie

  5. Well, I'm excited. I love the idea of this machine, rather than having to stock a lot of books on a shelf in a book store. The book store could have an expresso machine for books, and one for drinks you could enjoy while you wait for your book to be made. Maybe a new generation of coffee shop / instant book stores. Expresso, sip and read, cool.

  6. I like the idea of being able to get out of print books.

  7. Susan and Susan,
    I'll take an out-of-print mocha latte with 10% fiction.
    Customer 58

  8. This is waay cool! thanks for sharing!

  9. Nutschell,
    You're welcome. I direct your attention the Shocking Footage of The Espresso Book Machine.
    Mr. Peepers

  10. Oops, I was reading backwards and only read this article after watching the machine in action. Now all my questions are answered. How interesting!


  11. Amy,
    The EBM knows all, sees all. Future models will read the book for you.


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