Who needs searching the shelves for the book you want, when you can just…print your own? Call it the ATM of book publishing or as the developers have imagined it: the “ESPRESSO BOOK MACHINE.”

Able to produce 15 – 20 library-quality paperbacks, in any language, in an hour, without any human intervention, this contraption allows the host company, On Demand Books, to produce one of ten different books at the same cost as printing and binding ten copies of one title. It has already been developed and installed at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC and Eqypt’s Library of Alexandria.

Wired Magazine’s Long Tail Blog linked this technology to the “rising demand for an obscure book.” But one can’t help but wonder about implications for the future of publishing, good and bad.

Read more about this and the claims that they will respect copyright on the OnDemand Books web site.