In Their Own Write: Authors on the Espresso Book Machine

Over the last year, our two ABC Espresso Book Machines have printed and bound more than 150 self-published titles, plus countless books from the On Demand Books & Google Books database. That’s hundreds of works – and heaven knows how many actual books –  that would only have existed in bits and bytes, or in the hearts and minds of their authors before the easy and affordable EBM came along.

We’ve been endlessly amazed by the number of different uses people have come up with for our book machines – from school assignments and dissertations, to history books and travelogues, and even art books! We’ve been talking to some of the very first people to use the continent’s first Espresso Book Machines, to find out about their experiences of writing and printing their own book.

Ebele Wybenga told us about publishing his thesis on the EBM, and how that gave his work the extra polish that won him an award!

Tell us about your book.
I turned my master thesis for my law studies into a book. The title is ‘Ongebonden Werk’, which means unbound work. It is about the contracts between literary authors and publishers in the age of e-books. I felt it would be a worthwhile experiment to publish my thesis as an e-book and print it on demand with the Espresso Book Machine, so as to explore the possibilities for self publishing.

What was the writing process like?
Including research, writing my thesis took me about four months. The writing itself took little time compared to my preparations. I wrote most of it in a quiet seaside cottage in Suffolk, England last autumn.

You were one of the very first people to use our Espresso Book Machine. How did you find out about it?
When researching my thesis I stumbled upon a visionary article by publisher Jason Epstein in the New York Review of Books called ‘Publishing: The Revolutionary Future’. Epstein is one of the founders of the company that makes the Espresso Book Machine.

Why did you choose to make your book on the EBM as opposed to other ways of publishing your work?
It’s probably the most exciting innovation in the literary world. I wanted to prove that modern authors can publishers too.

How did you find the process of making your text into a book – making sure the format was right for the machine and so on? Any tips for anyone else who would like to use the EBM?
The American Book Center provided a comprehensive guide that explains the formatting step by step. Follow the rules, be patient and keep it simple. If you have a friend who is a graphic designer, get his or her advice.

What’s next?
I made fifteen copies ‘Ongebonden Werk’; I gave most of them away to people who helped me. It’s available as an e-book so it can be copied and distributed infinitely. I actually won an award and €2,000 for my thesis: the ‘Scriptieprijs van de Academie voor Wetgeving’. I’m convinced that the EBM book I sent helped to impress the jury.