I was reading an article from the New York Times on BookExpo America that mentioned OnDemandBooks.com, which has created the Espresso Book Machine.
From their website:
"On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine (The Espresso Book Machine), which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book. ODB has two machines currently deployed (one at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt).
ODB is also finalizing technology to access a vast network of content that can be accessed and produced via The Espresso Book Machine Network. The content of this library will reside in numerous locations from a multitude of sources. Our system will accept multiple formats, and fully respect licenses and rights."
As the company's co-founder said, "This could replace the entire supply chain that has been in existence since Gutenberg."
Their website is very rudimentary- a single page with the above claim, some contact info and some video clips that took forever to download. The machine kind of looks like Wallace and Grommet invented it.
I also wonder if reproducing books is really the wave of the future. It seems contrary to the research and development efforts in the electronic access to printed material that has been the focus of the future.