Thursday, June 04, 2009


8c5d64826f3aa72ccfe23f83a0665770b5e2f947_m The Generalist has been following the growth of e-books, e-paper and the environmental footprint of the global publishing industry, print-on-demand and related developments.

Image from excellent blog Open Reflection, accompanying article  about a  Round Table discussion on ‘Digitisation and the Trade Book’, organized by the department of Book and Digital Media Studies at Leiden University.

See Previous Posts:



Here's some more news from that front:


'The Espresso Book Machine® (the “EBM”), which was named to Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2007” list, provides a revolutionary direct-to-consumer distribution and print model for books. The EBM is essentially an ATM for books that automatically prints, binds, and trims, on demand at point of sale, perfect-bound, library-quality paperback books. These books, which have full color covers, are indistinguishable from other books sold in bookstores. A 300-page book can be produced in four minutes (serially, in three minutes) for a cost of consumables of a penny per page (the EBM can produce a book of up to 830 pages). “EspressNet,” the EBM’s proprietary and copyrighted software system, assures the security of publishers’ titles, automatically tracks all jobs, and remits all royalty payments. The EBM produces a books using letter sized (8.5" x 11") or A4 paper, tabloid (11" x 17") or A3 coverstock, toner, ink and glue. Ultimately, the EBM will make it possible to distribute virtually every book ever published, in any language, anywhere on earth, as easily, quickly, and cheaply as e-mail.'  '

  The site includes a pdf of a speech by EBMs developer Jacob Epstein. Here is an extract.

'Ten years ago in a series of lectures that I delivered at the New York Public Library in which I sketched out the digital future as I saw it then and as it has since emerged I said that a book making machine, an ATM for books that receives a digital file and automatically prints, trims and binds single copies on demand at remote locations anywhere on earth where connectivity exists was an essential component of the decentralized digital future. In 2007, the last year for which figures are available 3.2 billion books according to the Book Industry Study Group were sold in the United States alone, not including the rapidly growing self-publishing category made possible by print on demand technology. In the digital future the world wide production of titles in all languages can hardly be imagined, creating myriad opportunities for decentralized print on demand and improved mobile, multipurpose devices with longer battery life and more legible screens. To speculate further at this stage is useless, except to posit billions of texts for billions of readers: the Gutenberg effect to the power of x. '

The first such machine in the UK was installed at Blackwell's Bookshop in Charing Cross Road, London in April. See: 'Revolutionary Expresso Book Machine launches in London' by Alison Flood [The Guardian. 24.4.09]


'The decline and fall of books: Traditional bookshops are closing; vending machines are churning out novels; and e-books are the new paperbacks; so is this the final chapter for the book industry.

Interesting piece by Nicholas Clee , the joint editor of the book industry newsletter BookBrunch in The Times (May 7, 2009)? In short, bookshops and publishers declining, digital readers & POD still in development.

He concludes: 'Will the bookshop of the future consist of a few hundred bestsellers and a print-on-demand machine? At Blackwell's, such a prospect required an imaginative leap. The EBM would print only some out-of-copyright works and those only if purchasers knew exactly what they wanted. The customers' terminal in the store was not functioning: you had to ask the bookseller to search for a title. The copyrighted works that various publishers are making available had not yet come through, and there was no search function on Blackwell's website. A Gutenberg-style revolution is not, on this evidence, expected in the next few months. But if you are a lover of well-stocked bookshops, then you should enjoy them while you can. '

One of the most interesting Print-on-Demand companies is Blurb  Good interview with Eileen Gittings, the company's founder on POD, Self Publishing and Independent Publishing, an excellent blog site by Mick Rooney. For tips on how to make a Blurb book, see The Art of Engineering. Watch Eileen Gittings speak on Vator TV on YouTube.

According to, this week Google, who already maintain a catalogue of 500,000 public domain titles announced plans to enter the electronic book sales market later this year. Amazon will be shipping a new Kindle DX reading device this month.

Borders has launched book downloads on its site for the first time in a bid to become the leading UK online bookseller, according to newmediaage.


Boston Business Journal reports this week that E Ink, the Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of display technologies for Amazon's Kindle e-reader, said it has agreed to a $215 million buyout by Taiwan’s Prime View International.

UK consumer guide to E-book readers published last week in Daily Mail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think when Apple jump on board with their rumoured 10inch e-pad things will really start to hot up in the digital book space. It is expected that it will come with 3G mobile capability and so in some way could work much like an oversized iphone.