Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kindle and Espresso

I was reading an article in Knowledge@Wharton about the technological evolution taking place in publishing. Not surprisingly, it talks about the Kindle.
… while the online-only retailer doesn't release sales figures for the reader itself, its cultural impact was clear by late July, when USA Today announced it would include Kindle editions in its popular weekly list of best-selling books.
What I liked about the article was that someone - finally - mentioned something else that’s shaping this revolution in publishing. The Espresso.
Where Kindle offers consumers a chance to buy some 350,000 books at the touch of a finger -- and then read them electronically -- the Espresso allows them to print a professional-looking paperback book in about the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.
Clearly, the Kindle and The Espresso have very little in common.
The smallest Kindle weighs 10.2 ounces. The Espresso weighs in at about 800 pounds. The cheapest Kindle costs $299. The cheapest Espresso, produced by On Demand Books of New York, goes for at least $75,000. The Kindle is all about virtual books and online transactions. The Espresso is about physical objects that consumers buy in person.
Clearly, readers can’t carry The Espresso around or have one in their home to print out a book whenever they need something to read. But book stores can. No more having to ship books to the store. No more over-ordering and then returning books.

These two advancements, The Espresso and eReaders, offer what consumers want. For those who love the Kindle and other eReaders, they can get ebooks. For those who want the feel and smell of a book, there’s The Espresso which gives you a book literally hot off the presses.

There’s a lot more to the article, so click over and read it in its entirety. But it seems to me that these two technological advances are good for readers and writers. I’m actually looking forward to seeing one of The Espresso machines in action. Are you?
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  1. Cool. This is the first I've heard of the Espresso but it sounds like a revolutionary tool! I don't have a looks like our library doesn't support the format and I'd want to at least occasionally be able to download books from the library. I'm waiting until next summer when I get the iPhone. Nathan Bransford said he likes the reader on it better and I think (?) it supports .pdf format, which is what the library downloads to.

  2. Thanks for keeping us updated on this, Helen.

    I think these technologies are definitely the logical next step.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. I love the Espresso idea. It would be very helpful for the environment if we only published the number of copies that are needed, no more, no less. No waste.

  4. People in publishing seem worried about e-readers, but I think there will always be a market for books. I downloaded a free version of Uglies by Scott Westerfield to my Kindle. My husband read it and loved it. He bought Pretties at Target, but they didn't have Specials (they're the next books in the series). I suggested he just download it to my Kindle and his reply was, "no, I want the book." He didn't enjoy the e-reading experience.

  5. I haven't downloaded a book to my iPhone yet. 'Course I'm just now figuring out how to access the Internet on it! I may try that. I'm still wavering.

  6. This is so cool. When POD books were first being discussed in the business nearly 20 years ago, the talk was that B&N was going to have kiosks in shopping malls where people could order a book and wait to have it printed and bound. It appears that the Expresso is a realization of that. It will be interesting to see where this goes. On a lot of levels it makes good sense.

  7. I've been hearing about the Expresso for months, and I think it's a fantastic idea! Now every single book has the potential to in a bookstore. That's pretty amazing if you think about it.

    L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

  8. I'm very excited about the Espresso, not in the least because my first book is being published using POD. (NOT via vanity press or any kind of self publishing, just a small publisher who chose to go that route.)

    The publisher (Oaktara Fiction) also doesn't do returns, which will make it harder to get my book into actual bookstores. But if the Espresso comes into widespread use, that could definitely be part of the solution.

  9. If I try to imagine the ultimate use of an Expresso, I envision either a store with one copy of the usual books so that customers could scan through the sample, plus a computerized listing of more books that could be printed - or a version of a Amazon store online where you could choose a book, then go to the physical (small) store & pick up your printed book (no waiting on shipping).

  10. In-store printing could revolutionize the publishing industry. It's just a matter of cost, making the technology affordable.

  11. Variety is the spice of life. One good thing about the Espresso Machine is you can get your book into a store which otherwise may not carry it.

    Morgan Mandel

  12. The Espresso is a fantastic idea.

    But... it's a transition idea. It's a great idea to get people who want to read the way they want to read, to read what they can read. The what they CAN read, is what's available on the Espresso.

    If you spot one in the next view years, gathering dust, you should make an offer on it. It'll be a rarity.A collector's item.

    The Kindle (ahem, which at a 40% share is the major minority reader...) will get better and better. I, as a reader rather than an author, applaud that.

    Writers should applaud it too. The NYBS list is dominated by cookie-cutter books. I bet the writers out there would welcome the chance to compete on the basis of merit, rather than advertising budgets.

    Whatever reduces the control of entrenched publishers, will be interesting. Self-publishing, in a world that has no paper, may become the norm.

  13. We may eventually become paperless readers, but we'll have to wait until all the die-hard paper readers have passed. We're becoming fewer, but there are still small kids who grow up loving print books.

  14. This is not an either/or proposition. Everybody's taste is different. Have DVD's destroyed the movie theaters? No. But the Expresso and future generation book-printing machines need to have access to a large percentage of the books being published. You need an Amazon-like library accessible by these machines.

  15. What an interesting discussion. I think I'm one of the paper-only ones who may actually be shifting over to the other side. Hmmm.

  16. Actually, Dan, I heard an independent producer speak recently who said the movies and movie theaters are in dire straits. We may see a transition from full movies to Webisodes in the near future.

  17. I wonder if there will ever be an espresso here in Cyprus, they are catching up with the techno side of life. It would be wonderful.
    Interesting post, thanks.

  18. That was a great article. Too often the topic of ebooks starts an instant debate, pro or con. But it's not an either/or proposition. You are so right, Helen - ereader owners can have their ebooks, and book lovers can have their books. No one need lose out. There need not even be a debate.


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