Many of you were taken by the Espresso Book Machine by Xerox and the news of the first European Print-On-Demand bookstore opening in Paris. You had many questions in regards to the resulting book’s cost, the quality of printing etc, so I thought I’d come up with a little more information on the technology.

the Espresso Book Machine

Brandon Badger, Product Manager on Google Books, and Dane Neller, CEO of On Demand Books, discuss the Espresso Book Machine in the video below:

POD book | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksYou will notice that it’s really a fancy laser printer with great collating and trimming features.

However, I couldn’t help but notice that the pages are A4-sized and printed in a portrait orientation (see 1’53” or image on the right). That means the machine is ideal for textbooks and reports, but fans of literature may find the end result unflattering.

At least, it’s not expensive: Xerox says that cost is under a penny per (A4) page, so that shouldn’t be too bad!

Services for Indies

Xerox is also offering services aimed specifically at Indies. Basically, you either use their own self-publishing toolset called SelfEspress and order online or take your completed PDF to any EBM location, and they do the rest. In a move that looks aimed at CreateSpace, Xerox also allows you to create your book on SelfEspress and they publish the ebook version on Amazon, B&N etc.

Here’s what the EBM website has to say on the subject:

SelfEspress℠ is the online self-publishing toolset for the Espresso Book Machine (EBM). The SelfEspress platform provides powerful writing & cover creation tools that allow you to collaborate with people as you write, and turn your finished work into a professional looking paperback or ebook with just a few clicks of the mouse.

You can use SelfEspress to create any type of book, from a personal family history to an epic novel, which you can choose to print only for yourself or make available for sale to others. By streamlining the file creation process and linking directly with EBM locations, SelfEspress makes it easier than ever to create and order your very own book from your local EBM. SelfEspress offerings include:

  • The Writing Tool helps you organize the contents of your book and generates a fully formatted interior file based on your choice of professional book design template
  • The Cover Tool allows you to add text and images, choose typefaces and colors and creates a cover file that corresponds perfectly with your book’s trim size and length
  • Throughout the publication setup process, the site collects any necessary metadata, and even assigns an ISBN if you choose to sell your book
  • At any point you can collaborate with friends, family members, editors, or anyone else you’d like to work with, allowing designated collaborators to view the project, provide feedback, or even make changes or additions
  • Ordering books from an EBM has never been easier, and there are no minimums so you can purchase as many copies as you want, when you want. Place an order with the EBM location of your choice and have it shipped directly to you or pick it up in person
  • SelfEspress also generates ebooks, so you can easily create a print and electronic version of your work in one go
  • Projects can be Private so the book can only be ordered by you, while you also have the option to offer your work for sale in the SelfEspress Marketplace, via EBMs worldwide, and even online through distribution partners like Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Learn more at


I love how this subject has caught your imagination. My author friend, Audrey Driscoll, shared a site that lists worldwide locations of Espresso Book Machines and offers a number of further information on the subject.

And author Sarah Zama has this to say on the subject of quality:

“I work in a bookshop, but the company is a publisher too. We do produce digital books in-house and use Xerox for this – a machine very much like the one in the video. Only we refile our books by hand.

There are indeed a few steps you need to do by hand to produce a book that looks and feels like a ‘real’ book (for example, to treat the cover so that it won’t deform with humidity), but this machine can produce POD-quality books.”

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