POD, on its way to a corner near you

This is what got me started, finding this article, kind of by accident. The Internet is so great for that.

Sacramento library will unveil a book printing machine

It sounds like something out of Gutenberg’s 15th century shop: a machine that prints books, one at a time.

Officials at the Sacramento Public Library, however, are betting that their new Espresso Book Machine – the newest version west of the Mississippi – will put them in the vanguard of library service.

“This is all such uncharted territory for libraries,” said Manya Shorr, supervisor of the Central Library, where the machine will be located.

With the new machine, the library can do two new things:

• Give local writers the opportunity to print their own books, whether it’s a single copy or dozens.

• Put books in patrons’ hands that aren’t available in stores or on local library shelves. Literally millions of titles are available…

Read more here.

I’ve been totally in love with this idea ever since I ran across the Espresso Machine on the Ingram’s site. Of course, they weren’t telling how much it cost, apparently on the theory that if you had to ask, you couldn’t afford it, but this article indicates that the library paid around $150,000 for the print on demand behemoth. There are a few bookshops and mammoth libraries that have installed these, according to Ingram’s (through LightningSource) but wouldn’t this be amazing to have in the neighborhood?

Then I hunted a little further, all excited by the thought that there might be more of these now. And oh, my, yes, my very own Denver independent bookstore of awesomesauce, The Tattered Cover, has one! I want to go watch! Heck, I want to print!

Here’s how it works:

Obviously there’s some set up issues; one couldn’t walk in with an ebook and have it spit out a pretty bound volume a few minutes later, but if you had your files set up correctly, you would have output.

I feel a trip into the city coming on.

3 responses to “POD, on its way to a corner near you

  1. Hmm. Interesting – I wonder how they deal with most ebooks not being licensed to be printed?

    • Starting with an ebook isn’t going to give you a professional looking print book; I’ve researched this. You need a cover art file and an interior file with the text at the very least, and if your formatting is off, it’s a problem.

      Contracts tend to be pretty specific about which rights are assigned to the publisher, even if they aren’t used. All rights not specifically assigned are reserved to the author (or should be, I have experience with only a few publishers.) So, if an author of a book contracted as ebook only wished to print, they could. The price tag is a bit hefty though.

      Where I could get goofy is in case of POD special order books, because I’d walk in with a wish list and make that machine GO! Thank goodness the Tattered Cover is far enough away that it’s a special trip or I’d be broke.

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