Powell's just announced that in March they'll introduce an Espresso Book Machine at their downtown store, which will produce bookstore-quality paperbacks from an extensive catalog of digital titles.
From the press release:
"We are excited to offer this service to our customers, expanding our vast inventory at the City of Books location from one million volumes to nearly limitless volumes," says Miriam Sontz, Chief Operating Officer for Powell's Books. "It is yet another way we can be valuable and relevant to readers and authors as the distribution channels for books continue to evolve. We are thrilled by this opportunity to work with On Demand Books as our business partner in this venture."
It looks like a crappy old printer, doesn't it? A crappy old printer that retails for around $100,000 and can print from over 7 million titles in about 4 minutes. The "business transaction costs are confidential," a Powell's spokesperson told me when I asked how much they spent on the machine, while the prices of the books themselves will "vary on size and production costs but would generally average between $15-25."