Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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More on the Espresso Book Machine

From an article in today’s NY Times:

Mr. Neller’s firm is pitching the book machine, which may eventually sell for $20,000 or more, principally toward the nation’s 16,000 public libraries and 25,000 bookstores. A 300-page book costs about $3 to produce with the machine. A bookstore or library could then sell it to customers or library members at cost or at a markup.

Why bother? The machine, Mr. Neller said, is for the “far end of the back list,” those books that are out of print or for which there is so little demand that it would be too costly to print a few hundred copies, let alone one.

With the machine, Mr. Neller said, anything available in a portable document format, or PDF, including Grandfather’s memoirs and Ph.D. dissertations, can be printed in minutes as long as a computer can read it.

Books that are copyrighted and require royalties would need a negotiated fee before they could be published, he said.

“But think what this means,” Mr. Neller said in an interview yesterday. “It’s not just bookstores and libraries. This is small. It could go into a Kinko’s, or a coffee shop, or a hotel or a hospital or a cruise ship.

“A rare book available only to scholars, let’s say, would now be available to anyone,” Mr. Neller said. “Let’s say you want a book in Tagalog, a book in French or a book in Spanish. Think of the implications for universal knowledge!”

I’m dying to see this machine in action! This could be a really cool solution for professors who typically use course packs etc. The thought of creating one’s own anthology just for a particular course is something that really appeals to me. Not to mention being able to print off copies of long out-of-print books.