Hello again, old friend

Wednesday, December 03, 2008 0 Comments A+ a-

Thanks to Booksquare, just found this new article New Machines Reproduce Custom Books on Demand on the progress and criticism on the Espresso Book Machine.

At least seven Espressos are in operation, several on college campuses. Instead of publishers' printing thousands of books and hoping some of them will find buyers — and losing money when they don't — the machine prints on demand. Customers can submit an order for, say, an old textbook or a copy of a 19th-century classic, and walk out with it several minutes later.

But the machine has limitations. It cannot print just any book. Copyright law limits the books that can be offered, the texts must be PDF's, and it can take days to get a repairman when something breaks.

Another limitation is, at least for now, "U.S. copyright regulations require that books be in the public domain (which includes anything printed before 1922), or that the copyright holder must grant permission for reprinting". Thought I can definitely see some small presses getting their hands on this machine to print out their books which wouldn't be inhibited by the copyright regulations.

One big bummer is the technical glitches it appears:

Because so few people know how to repair it, waits for service can take several days, says Maria Bonn, the library's director of scholarly publishing. But she emphasizes that On Demand Books has been "very responsive."

Mr. Neller explained the Michigan glitches. "It was a programming error and one of the cutting sticks was misaligned," he says, adding that version 2.0, which became available this month, incorporates a Xerox machine that can be repaired, or unjammed, by anyone with Xerox training. The new machine is also more compact, with dimensions similar to those of a large copy machine.

Hopefully as the days go on the machines get a bit more sophisticated as more trial and errors occur.

Read the whole article here: http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i15/15a00103.htm