Espresso Book Machine 2008 September 18
The University of Michigan Libraries have installed an Espresso Book Machine. It takes the Espresso Book machine between 5 and 10 minutes to produce a “library quality” book. With the 2 million+ books Michigan has digitized and other copyright-expired digitized books (pre-1923) they have plenty of titles to choose from to print at a cost of $10 a book. The press release claims they are the first academic library to do so, but I can imagine more jumping on board – and not just for non-copyright materials. We are entering a new era of publishing and I can imagine publishers working with libraries and other entities to print books on demand. Instead of waiting to order a text book, just go to the library and print one. Also, this type of machine could be really useful in a partnership between libraries and small academic presses. Most of these small presses print very limited runs of books. Instead of sending the electronic copy to a commercial book printer, print it at the library whenever a new copy is ordered. This is something to keep an eye on as I believe there are many possibilities here besides the copyright expired materials – esp. for small academic presses and even for out-of-print books.