A couple of weeks ago I attended the London Book Fair. There was a lot to absorb, especially on the vexed issues of digitalization and the future of the (printed) book but much about this I’ll explore in later posts.
For starters, however, here is my reaction to the Book Expresso machine, which is often touted as the way that bookshops are heading – to become the equivalent of photo kiosks.
The machine on display is now back home at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road bookshop. The site they have created for it looks plush so it may be an attractive addition to the bookshop. However, naked and plonked in an aisle at the book fair, it looked an ugly beast.
More to the point, the what came out of the beast wasn’t that pretty. The demo copy was cut wrong (or it had been printed out of registration) and – worse – the cover was sticky, not nice to touch; it needed a spray coating of lacquer. Otherwise, the print quality was so-so, maybe a bit better than a photocopy but I didn’t get to see any pictures to see how they were reproduced.
My overall assessment, then, was that such machines may end up transforming the traditional bookshop but there’s a way to go yet.