Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Zumaya Publications joins the Espresso challenge

The following press release is from Elisabeth Burton, Executive Director, Zumaya Publications:

Late in April, Zumaya Publications, parent company of the GLBT publishing imprint Zumaya Boundless, completed the paperwork that places all their titles currently being printed at Lightning Source into a pilot program with On-Demand Books, makers of the Espresso Book Machine. Other participating publishers are John Wiley & Sons, Hachette Book Group, McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, Clements Publishing, Cosimo, E-Reads, Bibliolife, Information Age Publishing, Macmillan, University of California Press and W.W. Norton.

Through this program, Zumaya books will be available for printing at all facilities that have an Espresso. There are currently 12 EBMs operational worldwide, and it is my understanding that this pilot program is the first phase of a marketing plan to place more of them in the next few years. The ones already in operation are located at:

World Bank InfoShop, Washington D.C.
New York Public Library, New York, NY
New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans, LA
Internet Archive, San Francisco, CA
University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor, MI
Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
University of Alberta Bookstore, Edmonton, AB, Canada
McMaster University Bookstore, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Newsstand UK, London, England
Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
Angus & Robertson Bookstore, Melbourne, Australia
University of Waterloo Bookstore, ON, Canada
Blackwell’s Bookstore, London, United Kingdom

Just about a decade ago, the first on-demand book printer came into being. The quality of the product, compared to the traditional printing methods, left a good deal to be desired; and the cost to print each copy was much too high for most book publishing uses. However, where only a limited number of copies—or a single one—was wanted, those early machines were both economical and sensible.

It was then that Random House editor Jason Epstein wrote Book Business, in which he stated that on-demand printing was the future of the industry. Epstein was one of the founders of On-Demand Books.

Since those early days, the quality of on-demand printing has grown exponentially, and today a digitally printed book is indistinguishable from its offset-printed counterpart with one exception: it will always have a glossy cover for technical reasons. By utilizing the improvements in digital printing technology, On-Demand was able to complete development of a compact machine that could revolutionize the way books are printed and sold.

The EBM, which costs $95,000 in its current incarnation, prints and binds a trade paperback book while you wait. Literally. In Blackwell’s bookstore, they’ve replaced the metal frame with glass so the buyer can watch as their book goes from digital file to finished product. You can view the process yourself at

The capability to print a book on-site in a bookstore or library means that shipping costs, both financial and environmental, are eliminated. Although no one has, as far as I know, calculated the environmental impact of the machine itself, it has to be borne in mind that the book would still need to be printed, yet that the now-standard print runs wouldn’t be necessary. Given 25-50% of those runs are returned and discarded, logic would suggest the EBM is a much more environmentally sound way of producing print books than any of the alternatives.

The benefits to independent booksellers in particular are clear. One of the biggest obstacles they currently experience trying to compete with superchain and online booksellers is their inability to offer a large range of titles. With an EBM, this would no longer be the case. They will be able to store the files for thousands of books and print off a copy when it’s wanted—and without paying fees to wholesalers and distributors.

In addition, they could, if provided with the proper files, print books for local people who may, for example, only want five or ten copies of a family history for personal use, thus providing an additional revenue stream.

The advantage for authors is that overseas sales will no longer be plagued by expensive shipping costs. This opens the whole world to the exchange of ideas through printed books in the way it has so far only been managed via ebooks.

We’re very excited about being part of this project, for all of these reasons. There’s something particularly exciting about being part of the future of an entire industry.


Patricia Stoltey said...

Sounds like a wonderful opportunity to experiment with some of the newest technology available. Please keep us posted.


Julie Lomoe said...

Hi Alan,
This is a fascinating post. The cost of the machine sounds daunting, though. I agree that the POD technology is changing the publishing business profoundly. But people don't have to go to a coffee shop - they can easily go to a POD publisher and order directly, or order on Amazon.

C. Margery Kempe said...

POD tech is the winner!

Enid Wilson said...

I agree POD and ebooks are the future. Then a lot more worthy writers can become authors.

Sexy romance by Enid Wilson

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I saw this PR from Liz. Interesting, huh? Oh, I couldn't get the link to work. Might want to check that.

Best Regards, Galen

Elle Parker said...

A POD book machine that works while you wait - that just blows my mind...

Elle Parker

KK Brees said...

Just hold your breath for a nano second and the technology evolves. Wow.