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Publishing While You Wait...for an Espresso

Books-A-Million’s in-store promotion Espresso Book Machine offers customers publishing on demand.

Books-A-Million’s in-store promotion Espresso Book Machine offers customers publishing on demand.

“The dedicated scribe … will never fail to praise God, give pleasure to angels, strengthen the just, convert sinners, commend the humble, confirm the good, confound the proud and rebuke the stubborn.”

Those words, written by Abbot Johannes Trithemius of Sponheim in 1492, were in praise of monks who dedicated their lives to copying hand-written volumes of the Bible. Producing a single illustrated edition took years of day and night work.

Think how irritated — or perhaps joyful — those monks might be to hear of the machine in Birmingham that can print out the entirety of the Good Book from Genesis to Revelation in just 10 minutes.

The Brookwood Village Books-A-Million store installed its Espresso Book Machine last November, one of only three stores in the country to offer it at the time. The machine can produce a bookstore quality paperback with color cover, in any standard trim size, at point of sale within minutes.

The advantages are two-fold, according to Terrance Finley, CEO of Books-A-Million. Customers will have access to a virtual inventory of 7 million titles instantly available to them. They’ll also be able to print their self-published works or any user-generated content, photo books, recipes and the like, in a matter of minutes and pick it up at the store.

Finley’s foot soldier at the Birmingham store, Espresso Book Machine operator Trevor Conatser, says the most common reaction from his customers is a “sheer amazement of the machine even existing.”

A three-year BAM employee and former store manager, he’s helped people create books of recipes, family photo albums and serialized family histories. At 70 pages a minute, it doesn’t take long.

Unlike the monks of old, the EBM only works with digital files in Microsoft Word or PDF formats. The books are priced according to length. BAM operates more than 253 stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia. 

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