Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Co. has now confirmed that they will leave their 36-year-old location in Pioneer Square and move to the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood “as early as March” of next year. Owner Peter Aaron tells the Seattle Times, “Here are the factors I’m looking at: parking, population, daytime and nighttime vitality and foot traffic, the absence of stadiums and conflicts with parking and crowding,” he said. “It’s the attractiveness and safety and vibrancy of the location.”
Aaron says “our financing is in place going forward” and “is thrilled about 85 parking spaces for the new location that will be either cheap or free to customers.” The new 20,000-square-foot space will be smaller than the current store, “but will have a greater selling area because the space will be used more efficiently, Aaron said.”
As booksellers are learning, the real potential market for the Espresso Book Machine is self-publishing and local publishing rather than summoning print copies of forgotten classics. To that end, self-publishing giant Author Solutions has partnered with On Demand Books, which produces the Espresso, to “provide writers with an online toolset to publish, distribute, print, and market their books in retail locations via the Espresso Book Machine.” The process isn’t exactly clear, though the release says “ASI will create and operate Web-based self-publishing services that will be available to the Espresso Book Machine retailers, who can then private-label these services under their own branded Web sites. Writers can avail themselves of these online services from remote locations or on in-store computer monitors, and have their books printed while they wait.” There is no indication of pricing in the release.
Of course retailers can harness the Espresso’s self-publishing potential directly already, so presumably relevant retailers will evaluate the new offer closely to see how it expands their current capabilities.
Also overlooked by many is that retailers don’t need to invest in an in-store Espresso to offer self-publishing and local publishing services. They can use Lightning Source and a variety of other vendors–the service is in helping customers, identifying local publishing opportunities and partnerships, and leveraging the store (shelf space, parties, promotion, etc.) to maximize the profit from such ventures and make a store a true local resource. Printing out those books on the spot, and investing $100,000 in equipment, are not essential to that strategy.