#20: Burnt Glue

#20: Burnt Glue
McNally Jackson Books, Nolita, New York, NY

This Monday I’ll be joining Robin Sloan and Frank Chimero  on a panel at McNally Jackson Books here in New York. Robin and Frank have both Kickstarted books of their own, and we’ll be talking about writing, designing, and publishing for the paperback release of Robin’s novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. The event starts at 7pm. No RSVP required.

If you come, you’ll also find a few copies of These Days on the shelf by McNally Jackson’s Espresso Book Machine. Seeing an EBM in person is impressive in the way of an engineer friend taking you into his garage to show you a contraption he’s built from hardware store parts to brew beer. It feels like a beta product, like if you give the thing five years and a couple of revisions, you’d have this slick black compact tower that spits out a book in sixty seconds flat. But the rough edges are part of its charm. I think my main character Connor might have a few things to say about this interface:

Espresso Book Machine, aka an iMac strapped to a laser printer
The Espresso Book Machine, aka an iMac strapped to a laser printer.

The future of publishing, as this company imagines it, smells like burnt glue; you walk into a bookstore and tell the clerk the book you want, then the EBM prints, cuts, binds, laminates, and a few minutes and a ka-thunk later spits out a paperback, literally hot (okay, warm) off the presses.

For an author who self-publishes, the EBM is still relatively pricey compared to online print-on-demand services, but the upside is that the places that lease the machines are mostly libraries and independent bookstores, and the few extra bucks go to them. Plus, if you’re in the global system (which These Days should be shortly) people can print the book from any EBM location around the world, like Powell’s in Portland or Tattered Cover in Denver. The Library of Alexandria has three of these book machines(!)

Hope to see you Monday.