As an idea, on demand book printing is nothing new, and we even spotted that Bookmachine monstrosity doing the whole ATM-for-books thing back in 2004, but it looks like the concept is about to take a big step with the new "Espresso" machine from On Demand Books. The $50,000 vending machine is about to debut in somewhere between 10 and 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007, including the New York Public Library in February. The machine can produce two books simultaneously in seven minutes, a time which includes all the printing, binding and cutting involved. The machine even slaps a snazzy laminated full-color cover on its creations. Books top out at around 550 pages, and right-to-left texts are possible. Production cost is about five cents per page, which should be quite a bargain for the roughly one million public domain English works currently floating around the Internets, but we're not sure what the exact costs will be levied by bookstores and copyright holders for the other titles -- there are currently 2.5 million books available for printing by the Espresso.

[Via SCI FI Tech]