Friday, June 22, 2007

Debut of the Espresso Book Machine

June 22, 2007
By Kimberly Maul

In a matter of minutes, or the time it takes to drink an espresso, the new Espresso Book Machine, from On Demand Books, LLC, can print, bind and trim a book, producing a high-quality paperback book for users. The first Espresso Book Machine (EBM) was installed and is up and running at the New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library.

"The Science, Industry and Business Library is delighted to showcase the Espresso Book Machine," said Kristin McDonough, the Robert and Joyce Menschel director of the SIBL. "The Espresso provides a convenient new approach to book publishing and information dissemination and we are pleased to provide our users with this first opportunity to see this new technology demonstrated at a library whose mission is to support innovation and new business ventures."

The EBM, unlike existing print-on-demand technology, is fully automatic and requires minimal human intervention. It is small enough to fit in a library or retail store.

Through the EBM, users can choose from more than 200,000 titles in the Open Content Alliance database of public domain works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, or Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, as well as a selection of in-copyright books including Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. OCA is working with On Demand, and funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to provide this digital content free to libraries across the country.

"Printed books are one of history's greatest and most enduring inventions, and after centuries, their form needs no improvement," said Jason Epstein, co-founder of On Demand Books. "What does need to change is the outdated way that books reach readers."

The machine can be purchased by any library or retailer and several libraries and organizations are set to get the machine this fall: the New Orleans Public Library, the University of Alberta (Canada) campus bookstore, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vt., and the Open Content Alliance.

The Espresso Book Machine will be at the New York Public Library's SIBL through August.

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