So the Guardian numbers were a bit off. I talked today with the good folks at On Demand Books and the New Orleans Public Library, where an Espresso Book Machine is currently located (the others are here).
Here's what I found out:
There are three versions of the EBM 2.0:
Two black and white models with different printing speeds:
The Turtle (35 ppm) for $75,000
The Rabbit (105 ppm) for $95,000
There is a color version as well:
The Leary for $100,000
Each version has a color printer for covers, but the Leary prints interior color as well.
There are currently 15 installations, with more coming. Each unit has between 7,500 and 20,000 sales per year. At a cost of $.01 per page (as the website says), with a book cost of $10, a 300 page book makes $7. Split that even with the author and you're making $3.50 a book. Charge more and, well, you make more. That means the machine pays for itself in less than two years at a good rate of sale (assuming you're selling the books for cheap).
But the cool thing was talking to the New Orleans Public Library. They've taken a non-mercenary approach with their EBM and use it to make low cost books for children's programs, local geneological societies, and scholarly and creative journals. Which reminded me that I should have thought about small presses. A few small presses could get together and buy an EBM and control their own destiny (bwa ha ha), especially if they were located in the same area.
So that's my EBM update. If anybody has $75-100k, I've got room in my house for one :)