Saturday, June 23, 2007

Espresso Book Machine

That the Espresso Book Machine exists is not new news -- World Bank and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina went into beta-test last year. On Demand showed models at BEA earlier this month. The story of the company is an interesting one, as is the QT movie of the alpha version (called Perfect Book) on the On Demand Books site.

What is news is that New York Public Library has received the first production machine. They plan to begin by offering 20 titles on demand from the 200,000 from the Open Content Alliance. It's been variously described as a "vending machine for books" and an "ATM for books."

It was also announced that the New Orleans Public Library, the University of Alberta campus bookstore, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, and at the Open Content Alliance are the next to receive machines. I am particularly excited about the possibilities for New Orleans Public -- what a great way to offer services to patrons while they are still re-building their collections and facilities two years after Hurricane Katrina.

Do I even need to say that I think print-on-demand is a technology with huge promise? It makes digital files usable in an additional way, it provides quick fulfillment, and reduces wasteful production that takes up warehouse space and might end up getting pulped if there is no demand.

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