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Print on Demand: Espresso Book Machine

What is an Espresso Book Machine?
It is like an ATM for books. It can print and bind any title on the spot within minutes! For that reason it is called an Espresso Book Machine; it produces a book instantly when you ask for it, one book at a time… Just like a cup of espresso coffee!

The machine is capable of printing and binding books of up to 500 pages in 20 minutes. Thus, it provides a convenient new approach to book publishing and information dissemination. The chief benefit of this machine is that no book would be out of stock or out of print.

The Espresso Book Machine was provided to the BA by On Demand Books LLC. It is currently installed at the BA premises, being the second unit worldwide in 2007.

The BA has acquired the new version of the machine on premises in 2011, which has more advanced features than the older version. The machine is located at "Our Digital World" exhibition at the Library offering a new set of services for the public. The new version of the Espresso Book Machine is connected to "EspressNet" service. It gives access to millions of book titles that can be printed on the machine from publishers and authors from all over the world. This also includes Google books. In order to make this service easily accessible for the public, the BA has built an online catalogue where users may choose the book of their choice to be printed on the machine.

How does it work?
After selecting a book from the available database, you just click 'order' and the printing process starts. The content of the book is printed on a black and white laser printer, and in the meantime, the cover prints on a color printer. After the printing process is done, the book is assembled and aligned. Then the machine notches the spine of the book and glue is applied so that the cover is soundly attached. The book arrives on top of the cover and the machine presses on it. Then comes the trimming phase in which the book is clutched with a hand inside the machine and trimmed  to size, and your book is ready. The machine produces a high quality output. Better quality printing is obtained from material whose source is electronic, but scanned materials are eminently readable too.

The software of the machine was adapted by the ISIS team to deal with Arabic books. The software was built upon open source platform, where all ISIS modifications and additions are shared with On Demand Books LLC through Concurrent Versions System (CVS).

Benefits you will get
A variety of books will be available for the public. You can choose one of the books from the collection database and order an instant copy. The collection includes several World Bank publications as well as numerous books of political, social and scientific subjects. A number of rare books that are currently out-of-print will also be available in the collection.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between On Demand Books LLC (ODB) and Bibliotheca Alexandrina according to which On Demand Books LLC provided the BA with an Espresso Book Machine. In 2007, a second MoU was signed between the two parties for the purpose of forming a joint venture to spread the use of the Espresso Book Machines manufactured by ODB to serve clients in all of the countries or entities that are members of the Arab League, with catalogs of Arabic and other materials to be secured by BA.

Agreements with Arab publishers
To help promote the use of this new machine in the Egyptian community, Bibliotheca Alexandrina signed agreements with several publishers including the Egyptian Publishers Union, Kotob Arabia (, and Dar El-Sherouk.

How to contribute your books
If you are interested to contribute your books in this project, you can contact us on For electronic formats, click here to see the required specifications.

The Library of Alexandria has installed two new Espresso Book Machines, in addition to a previous one dating back to 2007. Through a worldwide partnership between Xerox and On Demand Books, these machines have been paired with Xerox 4112™ Copier/Printers. The Xerox 4112 adds speed and exceptional image quality to books produced on the EBM. The new machines will provide the public with a larger variety of books that would not necessarily be from the library’s collection. The machines are expected to operate soon as a public service facility.


Last updated on 29 Mar 2016