Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Expresso Book Machine... Scary? Wonderful?

I'd never heard of the Expresso Book Machine until today, but as a writer and reader of Sci-Fi, I always knew this day would arrive. The $50k device can churn out a paperback book, complete with color cover, from a digital file in 5 minutes, and was just named Time Magazine's "Invention of the Year", over the iPhone.

And they say that print is dead.

Between this and Amazon's all-electronic Kindle book reader, if I were a traditional book retail outlet like Border's or Barnes and Nobles, I'd be dropping a load in my pants right about now. I can easily imagine all those cathedral-like book outlets replaced with mall kiosks. Hardcovers would have to be sold via existing channels for years to come, but you know that a bigger and better version of this thing would come along eventually.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. The futurist in me geeks out at the idea of my book available literally everyplace, printed on-demand. The book lover in me, however, insists (perhaps illogically) that the experience of book shopping - the hushed, almost reverent quiet in the store, the smell of the paper and the glue, the rows and rows of shelved titles, some spine-out, some displaying their covers - is just as important to the satisfaction of the reading process as the content.

Well, maybe not as important...

What do you think? Is a "ATM for books" a good thing in the long run?

Either way, I think the Expresso is here to stay.


Rachel Barth said...

It's a GOOD THING for everybody whose books aren't NYT Bestsellers. Anybody who's fallen down below the midlist. Anybody who's out of print. . . I could go on. A good thing!

On a related note, I have finished your book, Blood Magic. Did you really want comments? I will check back here to see your reply. Be warned -- I actually have comments, so tell me to shut up if you are feeling sad or fragile.

Matt Cook said...

I agree with you, Rachel... I can think of dozens of titles that I'd buy tomorrow if I could just print them on demand. The question is: are there enough people like me (and you, it sounds like) that would really make use of this ability? Time will tell...

As for comments, yes I'd love to hear them. You can email me at: if you like.