Could You Run a Bookstores With Just an Espresso Book Machine?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka


By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story looks at how the University of Texas Co-op is implementing a new Espresso Book Machine to launch a publishing house and streamline textbook sales.

Of course, the Co-op is not the only bookstore in the country to have such a machine. There are 36 locations where machines have been installed (according to the website of OnDemandBooks — which licenses the machines). Many of them are at university bookstores, from Harvard to Alberta, and several are overseas — in the UK, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (forthcoming) and China. Independent bookstores have been experimenting with the machines as well, including Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA, Village Books in Bellingham, WA, Blackwell Bookshop in London and Northshire Books in Manchester Center, Vermont.

Granted, $150,000 is a large sum of money to invest in a machine, but it is not much more then a small-to-medium sized, new independent bookstore might make in its initial inventory buy-in. With the many possible uses of the Espresso Book Machine, do you then think — assuming the cost will come down even further — it will be long before we see a bookstore that exists solely as an Espresso Book Machine and assorted promotional material? Could such a store exist? Would it be successful? And what would be the inherent compromises (reliability, for one)? Perhaps of most importance, would you shop there?

Let us know what you think in the comments?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.