Espresso Book Machine Redux

A little over a year ago I attempted and failed to see an Espresso Book Machine actually create a book at the University of Michigan Undergraduate Library (see https://tombenjey.com/2009/10/26/espresso-book-machine-going-to-waste/) . Last Friday, I had the opportunity to try again. I feared the worst when, upon arriving at the library, it was under construction, probably for remodeling and/or expansion. After finding our way into the building (as a UM alum, my wife knows her way around the campus—at least the way it was when she was an undergrad), the machine wasn’t where it used to be because that area had been changed into something else. The person at the reference desk knew they had such a machine but didn’t know where it had been moved. Fortunately, the two students working at the reference desk across this very large room did know and pointed it out to us as being next to a glassed-in area in this same large room.

We timed our visit to the library to coincide with the machine’s operating hours (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. weekdays). Two young women demonstrated the machine to us while printing a book that was part of an order of 60 or 80 copies of a single book from a campus organization. The printing of the bookblock took longer than usual because the regular printer is in the shop and a slower replacement was being used at the time. Watching the EBM assemble the book and trimming it to size was the most interesting part. The cover had a bulge on it along the top of the spine. The operator said that every so often the glue blobs up like that but that it isn’t a major problem.

Thousands, if not millions, of titles are available to be printed. They come from four major groups: 1) those made available by Lightning Source, Ingram’s print on demand arm, 2) books submitted electronically to it by local authors, 3) books that have been scanned by Google (Michigan’s entire collection was scanned), and 4) advance review copies for books to be published by the University of Michigan University Press. The woman went on to explain that they only printed out of copyright books or those for which permission had been granted.

More about the EBM next time.

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