Yesterday Kodak and ODB announced a new partnership which brings together Kodak's 105 thousand Picture Kiosks as well as the content distributor ReaderLink in a plan - well, I'm not sure what the plan is because the press release is not clear. But once you start reading between the lines then this becomes much clearer.
It looks like Kodak is planning to add new print options for their machines, but this likely won't happen soon. When it comes to books, Kodak's current devices can only print a certain type of photo book; the service doesn't offer the ability to print coffee table books or books with text. If you want the POD machines to make more types books it's going to require rebuilding the machines as well as providing new supplies to the stores.
And before you get excited about this deal, you should also note that this ability will likely only be available via some of Kodak's high end Picture Kiosks. That's my guess because right now not all of the models can even handle photo books, much less calendars, so it doesn't seem likely that they will be able to print books.. That figure of 100 thousand plus machines in use is something of a red herring because only a subset will be able to make books (after being updated). On the other hand, ReaderLink is planning to bring book machines to an additional 24 thousand stores. They should also be providing commercially published titles to be printed on the machines.
But this is still good news for the self-published author. As I've written in the past, the biggest single current use for Espresso Book Machines is self-published authors who want to print their own work. I've argued that availability was a major bottleneck, so getting the devices (or network) into a major retailer would be a good goal. I was thinking at the time that FedEx Office would be that retailer, given that they already have print shops, but here is an excellent alternative. Kodak already does POD for photos, so it would make a lot of sense if their devices added the abilities to print books as well as photos.
And that's going to mean a lot for the end user. The EBM currently requires a semi-skilled operator to use, while Kodak's POD machines can be used by anyone who walks up to them with a memory card in hand. they even have a website where you can upload images to be printed and picked up at the nearest location, and that's a feature which I'm sure many authors will appreciate. If Kodak can bring this level of ease of use to POD books then it will end up being cheaper and easier for the self-published author.