LJNDawson.com, Consulting to the Book Publishing Industry
Book Publishing Industry Consultant

Get Your Lightning Source Title While You Wait

On Demand, the company that producesthe Espresso Book Machine, has signed a deal with Lightning Source so that bookstores housing the Espresso will be able to print Lightning Source titles on the spot. (Borders tried this sort of thing a number of years ago, but the wait time was excruciating. The Espresso can print and bind a book in 15 minutes.)

Says Judith Rosen in PW:

If the machines catch on and proliferate like so many Starbucks outlets, the marketplace would become radically decentralized and book distribution would require simply an Internet connection.

This is true - given that of the 7 Espressos currently out there, only 2 are in bookstores. The rest are in libraries, which traditionally have not been in the business of selling books but this would certainly allow them to. (Or would they simply lend on-site-printed books until they fell apart?)

It's interesting to think about - as the machines get smaller and faster, will people choose to buy them for home use? Or neighborhood use? (I know that on my street in Brooklyn, when one person's printer is down, others pitch in and print documents until the malfunctioning printer's up and running again. But Park Slope is notoriously communal - even socialist - that way.)

As to whether or not this is yet another incursion into Lightning Source's business, I don't think so. Increasingly, LS seems to be edging towards digital distribution anyway.
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