How to Build a Book

McNally Jackson's Espresso Book Machine in their Soho store
McNally Jackson’s Espresso Book Machine in their Soho store

Kind of like coffee, books are all around us and we probably don’t know too much about what goes into making them exist.

Printing presses have come a long way since Guttenberg, but even though I sent “When Coffee Speaks” to the printer as a pdf, pages still have to be bound mechanically, which is a pretty cool process to watch.

The first run of 400 copies of “When Coffee Speaks” was printed at a large commercial printing facility. One of the reasons I chose to do my self publishing with McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers was because of their Espresso Book Machine right in the middle of their bookstore on 52 Prince Street in Soho in Manhattan.

The machine prints books one by one, so if you order a copy of “When Coffee Speaks” online, McNally Jackson will print your copy and ship it. I spent the winter making tweaks and edits based on feedback from the people interviewed in the book, and this new revised version is now available.

I ordered a few new copies for myself and asked that the McJ team wait to print them so that I could record the process. The Espresso book machine is mostly Plexiglas, built for transparent book-building process-viewing. I took a series of videos on my phone showing how a book comes to life.

View all 5 on YouTube.

(The shaky footage also demonstrates why I wrote a book and didn’t shoot a documentary.)

“When Coffee Speaks” is not the lowest priced paperback on the market, but it is printed on demand, so, if we’re going back to coffee parallels, it might be more like a microlot than a canned grocery store coffee.

Order one of the last few copies from the original run of 400 on, or order a copy of the new revised edition, printed just for you in Manhattan.

Coffee grows cherry by cherry and a book is born page by page. Both processes are pretty cool to witness unfold.

Coffee, book, coffeebook
Coffee, book, coffeebook

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