A printing robot named Expresso Book Machine will be introduced to the store, located in Paris's Latin quarter and run by publishing company PUF (French University Press).
Customers can browse a list of available books on a database and place their order, and their book will be printed before their eyes. The whole process takes just seven minutes.
The only requirements are that the book contains fewer than 850 pages and in black and white – only the cover can be printed in colour. The print-on-demand books cost the same price as copies from a traditional bookstore.
PUF head of digital experience Alexandre Gaudefroy demonstrates how the machine works. Photo: Screengrab/20 Minutes
The digital option will not only avoid the problem of unsold books and simplify stock-taking, Alexandre Gaudefroy, head of digital experience at PUF, told BFM TV, but will also “allow the rebirth of out-of-print titles which aren’t profitable to produce in the traditional way.”
The technology for the Expresso Book Machine has been around since the early 2000s, created by Xerox, but seemed superfluous after the rise of eBooks. PUF are banking on customers who like the convenience of digital, but also enjoy the institution of the bookshop and paper book, and have kept the interior of the store traditional with books lining the shelves – although these are not for sale.
“Clients can come and read them freely while spending time in our tea room,” Gaudefroy explained.