Espresso Book Machine

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The Espresso Book Machine at the Salon du Livre de Paris in 2015.

The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) is a print on demand (POD) machine created by On Demand Books. It prints, collates, covers, and binds a single book in a few minutes.

Introduced in 2007, EBM is small enough to fit in a retail bookstore or small library room, and as such it is targeted at retail and library markets.[1] The EBM can potentially allow readers to obtain any book title, even books that are out of print. The machine takes a PDF file for input and prints, binds, and trims the reader’s selection as a paperback book.[2][3]


Jason Epstein gave a series of lectures in 1999 about his experiences in publishing. Epstein mentioned in his speech that a future was possible in which customers would be able to print an out-of-stock title on the spot, if a book-printing machine could be made that would fit in a store. He founded 3BillionBooks with Michael Smolens, an entrepreneur from Long Island living in Russia, and Thor Sigvaldason, a consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers.[citation needed] At the time, Jeff Marsh, a St. Louis engineer and inventor, had already constructed a prototype book printer that could both photocopy and bind. Marsh was working on this project for Harvey Ross, who held U.S. Patent 5,465,213.[4] Peter Zelchenko, a Chicago-based technologist and a partner of Ross in a related patent effort, worked with Marsh to prove the concept and also helped bring Marsh and other players together with several venture interests.[5]

Ultimately Epstein, together with Dane Neller, former President and CEO of Dean and Deluca, licensed Marsh's invention and founded On Demand Books.[3][6]

The first Espresso Book Machine was installed and demonstrated June 21, 2007, at the New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library. For a month, the public was allowed to test the machine by printing free copies of public domain titles provided by the Open Content Alliance (OCA), a non-profit organization with a database of over 200,000 titles.[2]


The direct-to-consumer model supported by Espresso Book Machine eliminates the need for shipping, warehousing, returns, and pulping of unsold books; it allows simultaneous global availability[3] of millions of new and backlist titles.

EBM books can also be made available for distribution through Lightning Source, a subsidiary of Ingram Content Group.


  1. ^ Overview of the report on "Future of Books" CQ Researcher Blog. May 29, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  2. ^ a b "First Espresso Book Machine Installed and Demonstrated at New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library". PR Web. June 21, 2007. Retrieved October 16, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c "End of the line for books?". The Sydney Morning Herald. October 4, 2007. Retrieved November 21, 2007.
  4. ^ Ross, H.M. "System and Method of Manufacturing a Single Book Copy". U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved September 18, 2013 – via
  5. ^ Rose, M.J. (July 17, 2001). "Twelve-minute Book Delivery". Wired. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  6. ^ About ODB: History, On Demand Books. Retrieved on June 3, 2009.

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