Posts Tagged ‘Espresso Book Machine’

More on Espresso Book Machine

November 15, 2010

While theEspresso Book Machine (EBM) was printing the book, the representative said that they received six to ten orders per week. Some of these orders may be for a single copy of a book but others can be for tens of copies. It seems that the machine is greatly underutilized at this time because the equipment is capable of printing thousands of books per month. In fact, the minimum usage for ExpressNet, the software that connects the EBM to book print files from a variety of sources, is 5,000 copies a year. Download the files for fewer than 5,000 titles a year is viewed as underutilizing ExpressNet. If I understand correctly, locally created books need not be uploaded to ExpressNet to be printed on an EBM. Thus, an ExpressNet connection is not necessary but does limit the range of works available for printing on a particular EBM. One of the sources linked to by ExpressNet is Lightning Source (LSI). LSI is the digital print on demand arm of Ingram, the large book wholesaler. I am interested in this connection because the Pop Warner Single-Wing Trilogy is printed by LSI. Books printed by LSI are automatically available to almost all resellers of books both on and off-line. Now, I need to see how to make the Trilogy available to EBMs world-wide, not that many people outside the U.S. would be interested in it.

I assumed that UM professors who consider the textbooks in their heads to be better than those that are actually in print would see the opportunity to easily convert the books in their minds into physical form without having to convince a publisher to pay them to write the book. Professor-authors could then sell these books to captive buyers in the forms of their students. This hasn’t happened to any significant degree as yet, most likely because the idea hasn’t dawned on them yet apparently because most of them are unaware of the EBM’s existence and capabilities. When they do, grad students will be tasked with creating the PDFs to input to the machine. Whether professors will actually write the books or if that task will be delegated to grad students will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Espresso Book Machine Redux

November 11, 2010

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 . 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.

Espresso Book Machine Going to Waste

October 26, 2009

This past Friday, I was in Ann Arbor doing research for a future book. When we finished our work in the archives, my wife suggested that we check out the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) that was installed at the University of Michigan over a year ago. The young special collections librarian was familiar with the machine and told us exactly where it is located. She looked up its hours of operations on the school’s website and noticed that the machine was in operation from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. weekdays. Because that is only ten hours a week, we decided that the website was in error; the EBM must be in operation from 10:00 a.m. to midnight. The Shapiro Library, which is better known to Michigan alums as UGLI (for Undergraduate Library), is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily, so 10:00 a.m. to midnight makes sense for the EBM. However, the website is not wrong.

We arrived a little after 5:00 p.m. to find the Espresso machine just inside the front door as advertised, sitting idle, also as advertised. An employee of the library explained to us that only two people were trained to use the machine and they only operated it two hours a day, weekdays. On the counter was a folder with a few pages of lists of books available to be printed. None of them interested me. I had expected to find a computer catalogue of thousands of pre-1923 books available to be printed. After all, Google famously scanned Michigan’s entire collection. There had to be numerous books in it that are in the public domain.

The gentleman handed us a stack of pre-printed books that could be purchased, but none of them interested us. The quality of the books looks to the naked eye to be about the same as that of print-on-demand books.

Some months ago, Jeff Wood, the proprietor of Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, PA, and I discussed the possibilities of the Espresso machine, particularly in a college town. One opportunity we envisioned was professors, unshackled from the need to find a publisher willing to invest in their books, writing their own texts for the courses they teach. The college bookstore wouldn’t have to inventory the books, other than a few copies to keep lines down at the beginning of the term. Researchers wishing to read dissertations wouldn’t have to strain their eyes and wrenching their bodies over microfilm machines.

But that is not to be at the University of Michigan. One hopes that other installations more fully utilize their EBMs. More on the machine, including a video of it in operation, can be found at