An ATM for books

Could be the biggest change for the literary world since the printing press

The Espresso Book Machine is far from elegant—it looks like an ungainly photocopier—but it could herald the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented his printing press more than 500 years ago. Unveiled April 24 at a central London branch of the Blackwell bookstore chain, the machine prints and binds books in five minutes. Blackwell believes the introduction signals an end to the frustration of being told a title is out of print or not in stock. The Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework, a total the company hopes to increase to more than a million by the end of the summer. That’s the equivalent of 38 km of shelf space or more than 50 bookshops rolled into a single machine.

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