The Philadelphia bookshop printing its own books

Shakespeare & Co. rose to fame after becoming one of the only bookshops in America with an Espresso Book Machine that can print a title in the same time it takes to make an espresso.

The 3D printer is capable of producing quality paperbacks with full-colour covers and there are staff on hand to offer services such as editing, layout or graphic design.

The idea was to help authors self-publish their works and with no minimum print run, authors can print as many copies as they like using recycled paper, for a flat rate of $15.99 (£12.30) per copy.

Having started out with a store in New York, the bookshop is now spreading its presence across the US, opening its latest store in Philadelphia.

“Shakespeare & Co. wanted to create an experience that activates all of their customers’ senses, while reviving the feel of a time before smartphones and push notifications,” says Oat Foundry co-founder and chief executive Mark Kuhn.

Oat Foundry produces split-flap displays, synonymous with quickly changing airport and train station information. Shakespeare & Co., which has gained a reputation for the nostalgic nature of its stores, decided to install the signage that displays the title of the book, as it is being printed on the Espresso.

“Split-flap displays were once a leading information delivery technology, adorning the walls of train stations and alerting passengers to changes with their recognisable ‘clacking’ sounds,” says Kuhn.

“Today, our Split Flap Display has allowed Shakespeare & Co. to take their specialised book printing service even further by audibly and visually sharing the current title being printed with all customers. It truly is a book buying experience people won’t find anywhere else!”

Kuhn adds: “Providing a unique way to buy a book, and to buy books that may not be found anywhere anymore, is a fantastic incentive for people to visit a physical bookstore.

“For the modern generation, which is inundated with digital notifications devoid of tactile, physical impact, the Split Flap Display offers an even more nostalgic and memorable experience. It raises excitement with an almost-forgotten technology that most guests have likely never seen in the real world.”

The Split Flap Display also tracks and shares the total number of books printed globally by the Espresso Book Machine, using a fully automated system.

Shakespeare & Co. chief executive officer Dane Neller is also the co-founder of On Demand Books, which produces the Espresso Book Machine.

He comments: “From a functional standpoint, the Split Flap offers a dynamic way to display the cumulative number of books printed on our machines worldwide, and individual titles printed in real time. From an experiential standpoint, the Split Flap is both entertaining and informative, engaging our patrons with the book printing technology.”


First published on Print Monthly


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