Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

This bookshop will print your novel in the time it takes to drink a coffee

iStock_83744213_LARGE.jpg

Ordering books online is convenient. But there’s something magical about wandering into a real-life bookshop, browsing the titles, and walking out with a fresh paperback in your bag, ready to be cracked open as soon as you sit down for a coffee.

Now, in a stroke of genius, a Paris bookshop is combining the two. At the Librairie des Puf in the city’s Latin Quarter, you can have a book printed for you on request – in the same time it takes to drink a coffee.

Rather than waste space storing thousands of books, most of which will never be sold, the Librairie simply holds an Espresso Book Machine. Customers use tablets to select the book they want to print, adding handwritten inscriptions if they like. The Espresso Book Machine then turns the PDF of their chosen title into a hot-off-the-press paperback in five minutes.

“The customers are all surprised,” the shop’s director, Alexandre Gaudefoy, tells the New York Times. “At first, they’re a little uncomfortable with the tablets. After all, you come to a bookshop to look at books. But thanks to the machine and the tablets, the customer holds a digital library in their hands.”

lq

Paris's Latin Quarter, the site of the Librairie des Puf

It’s one big library, and it’s getting bigger. While customers at the Librairie aren’t yet able to choose any book in the world, they can access three million titles compiled by the company behind the Espresso Book Machine – including titles from 10 major US publishers.

They can also print any of the 5,000 books published by the University Press of France (Les Puf for short), which runs the Librairie. And thanks to Les Puf’s esteemed reputation, they’ve also persuaded other French publishers to sell PDFs of their titles through the shop.

Because it eliminates delivery and shipping costs, as well as the need for big print runs, the on-demand model is much more cost-effective – which means that that niche out-of-print title could finally be within your grasp. “We can revive old titles, which we previously hadn’t bothered with because they’d only sell five or 10 copies in a year,” says Mr Gaudefroy.


Watch: printing books on-demand is greener, cheaper - and really pretty cool


The Librairie des Puf first opened in 1921, and for decades was an iconic symbol of Parisian intellectual culture. But – like many Parisian bookshops – it was eventually defeated by the combination of sky-rocketing city centre rents and falling profits, as more and more people bought their books online. In the decade leading up to 2014, some 28 per cent of Paris’s bookstores, including the Librairie des Puf, closed for good.

But thanks to an inspiring anti-gentrification programme introduced in 2008, which rents retail spaces to cultural enterprises at affordable rates, the Librairie was able to reopen in March 2016. The concept has proved so popular that Les Puf are now considering opening self-printing bookshops in other cities around France.

There's no word yet on when British book-lovers will be able to try out the Espresso Book Machine, but readers in the UK are slowly beginning to rediscover the joys of bookshops. In London’s Spitalfields, the bookshop Libreria helps modern shoppers struggling with digital information overload by organising books according to unexpected and thought-provoking categories: “the sea and the sky”, or “enchantment for the disenchanted”, for example. Waterstone’s announced a return to profitability last year, while the app NearSt allows London shoppers to easily locate their nearest bookstore and check if their desired title is in stock.

And, in February 2016, Amazon opened its first physical store in Seattle – perhaps the biggest sign of all that we’re turning back to bookshops. 

Images: iStock

Related

reading.jpg

How reading for pleasure could be key to a less stressed, happier life

GettyImages-477279594.jpg

Judy Blume on the magic of running a bookshop

2.JPG

Run your own bookshop with this unique Airbnb rental

iStock_21785723_LARGE.jpg

The five golden rules of dining like the French

iStock_000092980771_Large.jpg

Why France has decided to ban out-of-hour work emails

Libreria SCA 8287 - credit Iwan Baan.jpg

Look inside London’s new technology-free literary haven

Dylan Thomas Boat House.jpg

Grab a coffee, write a book: The UK’s most inspiring literary cafes

Nail-Art-Pois-Le-Simone-Blog.jpg

15 chic upgrades to the classic French manicure

dirty dancing.jpg

British women choose their most romantic lines from fiction and film

Comments

More

Roxane Gay slams publisher for offering book deal to far-right troll

“Alt-right” internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is not a good guy.

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017

Margaret Atwood has a new warning about The Handmaid’s Tale

“You think you’re a liberal democracy and then – bang – you’re Hitler’s Germany”

by Kayleigh Dray
15 Feb 2017

JK Rowling humiliates Piers Morgan as he falls into her Twitter trap

Talk about fantastic tweets and where to find them…

by Kayleigh Dray
15 Feb 2017

JK Rowling utterly annihilates Piers Morgan for defending Trump

“The downside of sucking up to the biggest bully in school is getting burned alive”

by Kayleigh Dray
13 Feb 2017

The daily writing routine of best-selling author JoJo Moyes

Coffee, people-watching and Scrabble

by Sarah Biddlecombe
10 Feb 2017

Memoirs and marriage: the new books to perk up February

This month's best new releases

by Sarah Shaffi
10 Feb 2017

Quiz: which feminist literary heroine are you?

Are you a Matilda Wormwood, a Hermione Granger, or someone else completely?

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Feb 2017

Why every woman needs a classic trashy book club

Plus 10 raunchy, retro and ridiculous novels to get you started, as chosen by American Housewife author Helen Ellis.

09 Feb 2017

The ‘real’ Darcy has been revealed – and he's nothing like Colin Firth

The Georgian ideal look is rather different to today's

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Feb 2017

Watch the new trailer for Anne of Green Gables adaptation on Netflix

And Netflix has made one big change to the classic children’s book…

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Feb 2017