Here's your book - sorry for the wait

Local company in talks to bring 'print on demand' books to the Gulf, with more than two million titles on offer.

Talks are under way to bring a print-on-demand book service to the Gulf region, which would give readers a choice of almost 4 million titles in paperback format.

Jashanmal Bookstores has had initial talks to bring the Espresso Book Machine, which can print and bind a book at the push of a button, to the UAE and Bahrain.

The machine, which is designed by the US-based On Demand Books, is linked to an online library of almost 4 million books. After selecting a title, it takes about four minutes for the machine to print and bind a paperback-quality book.

Narain Jashanmal, the general manager of Jashanmal Bookstores, said the company was in the early stages of talks about bringing the technology to the region.

"We would love to have one here," said Mr Jashanmal. "It would make an infinitely large bookshelf available to consumers in the UAE and Bahrain."

He said that, while Jashanmal retail outlets tended to be small, installing the print-on-demand machines would greatly enhance the range of titles available.

"If you have something like this, you don't need a very large bookstore," he said.

On Demand Books claims to offer almost 4 million titles, some of which are in the public domain, through deals with the likes of Google Books and Lightning Source, a subsidiary of Ingram Book, the world's largest wholesale distributor of books.

Xerox handles the marketing, sales and servicing of the Espresso Book Machine worldwide under a deal agreed with On Demand Books last September.