Over the past several years, we have seen campaigns launched both in support of and against e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook. In one camp are those who reject the idea of technology, particularly e-readers, as being the death of libraries and books as we know it. In the other camp are those who see e-readers as a way to embrace technology and provide an easier platform for self-published authors to launch their contest.
And that’s where On Demand, makers of the Espresso Book Machine, comes in. They are planting their kiosk right smack in the middle of the battlefield and offering a technology that will enhance both the digital and print business.
The Espresso Book Machine, for those who don’t know, will take virtually any book and download/print/bind it for you while you wait. And perhaps its biggest feature is that it will allow people to print their own self-published books. So, instead of ordering in bulk, a writer can submit a .pdf file and print out one or a few copies of their own book. It’s actually a pretty amazing invention (so amazing that my favorite book store, Tattered Cover, uses it for their printing company, Tattered Cover Press).
But none of this is news. What IS news is that On Demand has just announced a partnership with Eastman Kodak, which will enable all 105,000 (according to Publishers Weekly) Kodak Picture Kiosks to print books! Plus, ReaderLink is going to install machines in 24,000 new locations.
“We live in a culture where convenience is king, so this partnership is brilliant. It marries print with digital and pops out a cute on-demand baby.” – The Book Wheel
This is very exciting because the expensive and hard-to-find Espresso Book Machine will be a thing of the past. Kodak Kiosks are everywhere. They are typically found in pharmacies, which is a place that many people frequent more often than a book store. So someone who would not typically go out of their way to buy a book might see the kiosk and think, “Oh, yea, I need to read blah-blah book.” Only now they don’t have to make a separate trip to another bookstore or forget about it altogether, they can purchase it right there!
I must admit, I’m a little concerned about what this means for local bookstores. If people can pick up one of 7 million books at the grocery store or pharmacy, what impact will that have on them? But I’m reserving judgment until later on when the numbers come out. My guess is that avid book lovers will continue frequenting their favorite local stores and it won’t impact their sales too much (although it will probably affect big box retailers). For now, I’m just excited about this amazingly available technology and the fact that more and more people may actually read a book. Or that more and more parents might print out a copies of The Berenstain Bears or Little Critters. Because more books is always a good thing.
*Thanks to the Huffington Post for sharing the announcement of this partnership!