Sunday, June 24, 2007

Printing books on demand at NYPL

In 2004, in a speech at the Library of Congress, Brewster Kahle spoke about a bookmobile that could print books on demand for $1.00 a piece. Now the New York Public Library has installed a direct-to-consumer book printing machine in its Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL).
The first Espresso Book Machine™ (“the EBM”) was installed and demonstrated today [June 21] at the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL). The patented automatic book making machine will revolutionize publishing by printing and delivering physical books within minutes. The EBM is a product of On Demand Books, LLC (“ODB” -, the company founded by legendary publishing executive Jason Epstein and business partner Dane Neller, who joined SIBL’s Kristin McDonough for a private event there to speak about the EBM’s potential impact on the future of reading and publishing.

The Espresso Book Machine will be available to the public at SIBL through August, and will operate Monday- Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m....

Library users will have the opportunity to print free copies of such public domain classics as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and “Songs of Innocence” by William Blake, as well as appropriately themed in-copyright titles as Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail” and Jason Epstein’s own “Book Business.” The public domain titles were provided by the Open Content Alliance (“OCA”), a non-profit organization with a database of over 200,000 titles. The OCA and ODB are working closely to offer this digital content free of charge to libraries across the country. Both organizations have received partial funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

...The EBM’s proprietary software transmits a digital file to the book machine, which automatically prints, binds, and trims the reader’s selection within minutes as a single, library-quality, paperback book, indistinguishable from the factory-made title.
The web site for On Demand Books is "down", so I pulled up some of its web pages using the cache in Google. The cached page (from June 20, 2007) said the machine can:
produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book.
Besides the machine at NYPL, there are two other machines installed (World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt).

I wonder if Google's latest partners will get one or more of these machines? I would think it would be a nice compliment to what they are doing.

Related Post: The Espresso Book Machine, 9/28/2006

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