The Wall Street Journal has a recent news item discussing book retailers who have implemented the Espresso Book Machine system in their store:
Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., installed an Espresso machine with Xerox's printer last September and prints about 1,000 books a month on it, says print-on-demand manager Bronwen Blaney.
The bookstore, which isn't affiliated with the university, makes less profit on books it prints, because the cost to print and license the book is generally higher than the cost of buying an already printed book, says Ms. Blaney. But she says it's worth it because the store is getting a sale it otherwise wouldn't.
Blackwell, a book chain in the U.K. with 40 stores, installed an Espresso machine in its London flagship store in April 2009 and is considering adding around six more machines over the next 18 months. Blackwell CEO Andrew Hutchings says his only gripe is that the selection of contemporary titles it offers isn't as robust as he'd like it to be.
Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest U.S. bookstore chain by revenue, doesn't have on-demand printers in stores. Analysts say that smaller bookstores have more reason to buy the in-store printers because they don't have the storage space the big chains do.
Two things come to mind. Is the EBM worth it if the profits (and publicity) don't recoup the initial cost? And conversely, is this the direction that B&N and Borders need to take in bricks and mortar stores to counter the online dominance of Amazon?