The Espresso Book Machine will print your own original book files, submitted as a PDF. It can also print anything available in its searchable database. Titles are sourced from Google Books, Internet Archive and, via arrangements with Ingram and/or individual publishers, a selection of titles from McGraw Hill, Harper Collins and other major and minor houses.
The cost of a book is affordable. U of A markets both in and out of the university community to position itself as a content creator. Instructors can print books through the service, and the University of Arizona Press uses the operation for its advance reader copies. For the general public, the costs are quite reasonable. There is a one time $5 fee to set up the book to print. After that, covers cost $2.50 and individual pages are priced at four cents each; a 40 page book costs $4.10. Additionally, U of A proactively purchased a set of ISBNs and are selling them at $35 apiece, allowing the people who publish through them. If bought through Books on Demand, the ISBN cost rises to $200.
The hardware can be bought or leased, but is still pretty expensive. The price for the Espresso is still in the tens of thousands. Another issue is maintenance. It is complicated machine, and Books on Demand doesn't at this time have the resources to offer service. Having said that, they do offer maintenance training to copier services. The University of Arizona has two Espressos, one in the library and one in the bookstore. The library's copier contract is with Xerox, and Xerox sent its employees to training and they service the Espresso along with all the other copiers. when something goes wrong with the machine, Xerox is out to fix within the day. The bookstore does not have that arrangement, and when something goes wrong with their machine it has to be fixed in house, which can take weeks.
More about the Espresso Book Machine and Books on Demand: