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Google Offering Print Versions of Online Books 147

Posted by timothy
from the ungreppable-format dept.
carluva writes "Google is teaming up with On Demand Books to offer paperback versions of its collection of over 2 million public domain books. The books will be able to be printed using ODB's Espresso Book Machine, which is already in use at several book stores and libraries and can print and bind a complete, paperback copy of a 300-page book in less than 5 minutes. Google and ODB each get $1 in royalties per book sold (Google has pledged to donate its proceeds to charities and nonprofit organizations). See also ODB's PDF press release."
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Google Offering Print Versions of Online Books

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  • No thanks. (Score:2, Interesting)

    I can download public domain books to my Palm.
    • by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:04PM (#29458163)
      Given your user name I image your Palm is very important.
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:29PM (#29458485) Journal
        Given your user name, I don't want to imagine anything about you, lest I become a gibbering heap of slag-brained insanity.
        • by couchslug (175151)

          "Given your user name, I don't want to imagine anything about you, lest I become a gibbering heap of slag-brained insanity."

          Quite right. Safer to imagine ME instead.

    • Re:No thanks. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:37PM (#29458591) Journal

      I can download public domain books to my Palm.

      In case you missed it, this is for people who prefer to read from paper over reading from a screen.

      I see your Palm and raise you my iPhone. I can download books to that and have a very nifty app for doing so without having to turn pages (the phone's tilt controls the speed of the scroll) but to be honest I'm more inclined to read paper books. There's just something distracting about it being on a screen.

      • On other news, good bye trees!

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854)

          On other news, good bye trees!

          Books sequester carbon. So long as the ultimate source of the wood is a tree farm rather than a forest, not a big deal. (Of course paper from hemp, sisal, or other fibers would be even better.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by aztracker1 (702135)

            I really wish more people understood this... Trees are a renewable resource. There are more planted for those that are used for construction and for paper production. It's what allows those industries to continue. It's the clear cutting and deforestation for other purposes that's bad.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Trees used for paper has been sustainable (ie renewable and operated that way) for a long time. It can be quite low quality wood and fast growing pines are fine. You get a *lot* of paper out of single tree. Even better you can use trimmings and other bits that are not useful in the construction industry. The environmental impact is in production, in particular how to get the paper white.... And in most of the western world this is heavily regulated to have none. Paper is also pretty harmless as a waste.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The big problem with the iPhone (I have one) is that the screen is very small compared to a book, and I know that it will damage my eyesite if I read on it for a prolonged period, even with larger zoomed text. (then you have a too-frequent line wrapping problem) It is not pleasurable to read books articles on the iPhone. I only do it to alleviate boredom while waiting in line for something or sitting on the john.

        I have 20/20 vision and I wish to keep it that way. I retain my eyesite by taking frequent b

  • by Gorm the DBA (581373) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:00PM (#29458107) Journal
    So...I can now get a dead tree version of a scanned copy of a dead tree book?

    How long before google starts a service to provide scanned copies of these new dead tree versions online and indexed?

  • by swanzilla (1458281) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:04PM (#29458165) Homepage
    ODB...still getting paid.
  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:09PM (#29458253)

    I wonder if they will have any more resolution than the PDFs you can get from their online service. Some of the books have technical drawings that could use ahout 50 - 75 more DPI. Does anyone know if they were scanned in a higher native resolution than what they present online?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by itamblyn (867415)
      I know that when you upload to youtube, Google keeps the original version, and offers a downsampled version over the web (presumably to reduce bandwidth/resource requirements). I assume that given the amount of money it takes to scan so many books, they would have used a very high resolution scanner - that's not the type of thing you want to have to go back and redo. What we see online probably aren't the high resolution originals.
      • Doubling the resolution quadruples the size of the image, and can double or more the time needed to scan a single page depending on the hardware used. In other words, an increase in quality is associated with an exponential increase in resource requirements, and that in turn implies that those high resolution images are only as high as the company considers absolutely necessary. Conversely, the human eye requires very high resolution to be fooled by dots on paper. I think you will find that the standards yo
  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Starker_Kull (896770) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:11PM (#29458277)
    This is a wonderful thing. It may make it much easier to publish new, low circulation books as well, since you don't need to reach a critical threshold sales number to make it worth printing. Of course, a 'book' (as in the physical form) may become obsolete over the next few decades as old curmudgeons like me who like reading printed material far more than reading off a screen drop off...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      When you can get a tablet that will take a decent stylus or your finger, and has e-Ink but does video, THAT is going to revolutionize reading. Right now you can get all but e-Ink, or all but Video. The XO is as close as it gets and it's no book reader. Shareable annotations are a must. Open formats, likewise. Many are close...

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Right now, e-ink is VERY slow to refresh. Your video would be at 1 frame every second or two. But the savings on battery, and the super-crisp image are worth trading away video. Or just get a device with two screens.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I really don't see any reason we can't have e-Ink overlaid with a transparent OLED video screen. They keep talking about how cheap OLED is supposed to become, why can't we just have a trivially replaceable screen if the lifetime of OLED is a problem? Perhaps if they got really crafty, it could have the booklite printed on the back of the video screen.

          • by omnichad (1198475)

            If you don't see any reason, don't go on and detail out the reason. I'm sure that's something we'll see in the future, but you're right - we're not there yet.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              I detailed the reason the standard objection is silly. OLED screens are alleged to be cheap to make but lifetimes are poor. So let's just replace them when they fail. We have digitizer calibration routines for a reason.

              • by omnichad (1198475)

                I get the feeling that they are only cheap to *make*. They still have to recoup their research expenses. The prices are going to be high until the patents expire or until the next big screen technology tries to compete heavily on price.

      • When you can get a tablet that will take a decent stylus or your finger, and has e-Ink but does video, THAT is going to revolutionize reading.

        No, what is going to revolutionize reading is not the device but the DRM. When you can read any electronic book on a multitude of devices without DRM and format getting in the way, that will revolutionize reading. As it stands now proprietary hardware lock-in stinks and needs to be done away with fast if e-books are to surpass the dead tree kind.

  • >> Google is teaming up with On Demand Books to offer paperback versions of its collection of over 2 million public domain books

    So... this is the long tail in action?

    And can I order these for delivery from the Google website?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is already a site offering POD services for both Google Books and Internet Archive for over two years and it is done at cost:

    PublicDomainReprints.org [publicdomainreprints.org]

    • by sodul (833177)

      Done at cost ? I just looked at Treasure Island to get an idea and the cheapest estimate is $14 to $17 for softcover and up to $30 for hardcover. With the price estimated at $8 for the Google Books publicdomainreprints must be doing something wrong.

  • oh, the irony (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for lousy the AP article. Let's see...for a story about a great technology used to print books, I'll submit a link to a website read by those most hostile to science/technology, those who are not to keen about books that cover anything outside their narrow ideological realm. AND it's a friggin AP release. thank you so much for the effort!

    Do they realize it could be used to print books about queers and such?!?!? Oh dear god nooooo... /sarcasm

    yeah, mod me -1024 flamebait. Or, try this link http://ww [wired.com]

  • About damn time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:37PM (#29458577) Homepage Journal

    on demand printing started picking up.

    really, I shoudl be able to go to a bok store and get the book I want made on the spot. At software stores, they should burn the software on demand.

    • really, I shoudl be able to go to a bok store and get the book I want made on the spot. At software stores, they should burn the software on demand.

      That makes sense for items with low demand. But I wonder if traditional distribution is more efficient for items with large demand.

      I'd also question the quality control for the small on-demand printing setups... as well as the quality of on-demand burnt software (there's no way they'll last as long as pressed discs).

      For software it's kind of moot, anyway... o

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      really, I shoudl be able to go to a bok store and get the book I want made on the spot. At software stores, they should burn the software on demand.

      For book stores, yes, good idea. But software stores are basically obsolete. Geekoid, I don't know what country you live in, but in most industrialized countries, this would already be obsolete for software. The difference between the two markets is one of tactile preference; most people prefer to read paper pages still. But with software, there's no such factor. Software is software, no matter who burns it for you. And there simply aren't enough dial-up only users left to justify a physical software store

      • I don't agree. I think you are forgetting just how stupidly cheap it is to press a few 1000 DVDs per unit, let alone several million. Even for a little indie game I want to distribute, DVD via post is far cheaper than an online store. The internet is *not* free. The servers are *not* free and the bandwidth is *not* free. Even worse, you need to pay for the peak load on the servers, not the average...

        Books are not that different. A run of 10k books is very cheap per book. On the order of dollars or less.
        • by smoker2 (750216)

          Even worse, you need to pay for the peak load on the servers, not the average...

          Not true. Most places will charge for transfer on the 95th percentile, and you get a bundled transfer allowance anyway. If you know you're likely to regularly go over your allowance you get an unmetered connection which is only getting cheaper as far as I can see. You can get a dual core xeon server with 2.5 TB of transfer allowance for £99/month. Assuming a 6 GB filesize, your costs are 23 pence per download. Can you pre

          • What about Uptime, Peak bandwidth and Service level agreements? These things don't come with a 99 pound a month deals. I have looked. And if you don't get a service level agreement that says what happens when you don't get the bandwidth etc, then you won't get it. Then what? There is a reason a lot of even quite big sites get /. ed. They use these type of accounts......

            We have tried these things, it does not work with these cheap accounts. I have friends in the ISP industry as well. I am not out of the
  • So will all the books be $2 plus shipping?
    • by carluva (963158)
      From the linked article: "The books published by The Espresso Machine will have a recommended sales price of $8 per copy, although the final decision will be left to each retailer."
    • Discounting the cost of printing the book. POD (print on demand) publication as compared to traditional mass press printings is still expensive due to the cost of developing and operating the machine and individually handling each book. Black and white interior paperbacks have become fairly inexpensive however. For what you're getting for ~$8, it's pretty reasonable. I'm still hoping that full color POD printing will come down in price. If I want to make a POD photo book, the cost through the vario

      • by Zerth (26112)

        How many pages and, if you don't mind, how much of a markup are you putting on it?

        Glossy is still fairly expensive, although I've gotten some nice quotes from non-POD places

    • by Petrushka (815171)

      So will all the books be $2 plus shipping?

      Forgetting the price for a minute, there is a definite "no" on shipping:

      Neller said heâ(TM)d love to see the day when Google Book Searchers can press a button next to a search result and find the closest local printer, but Google says thatâ(TM)s a long way off. -- wired.com [wired.com]

      Another implication is that this is limited to brick-and-mortar shops where OnDemandBooks have a presence, which in turn means that to use this service you have to be physically present at one of just thirteen locations in the world [ondemandbooks.com] -- five in the US, four in Canada, two in the UK, and one each in Egypt and Australia. More locations coming soon, none of them in my country. :-(

  • by djupedal (584558) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:46PM (#29458711)
    ....Abbie Hoffman isn't going to appreciate this, me thinks.
    • by tjstork (137384)

      Abbie Hoffman isn't going to appreciate this, me thinks.

      Just need to invent a print splitter that looks like one printer on the network, but is many.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "....Abbie Hoffman isn't going to appreciate this, me thinks."

      Probably not, since he either suicided or OD'ed in 1989.

      • by djupedal (584558)
        > "...since he either suicided or OD'ed in 1989.

        Elvis says he'll be sure to pass that along when he gets back to the island where Abbie & Hendrix are hangin'
  • Yay! at any of a handful of US locations! Great!

    Unfortunately the machine to print these books starts around $80k (slow black and white printer) goes to $100k (fast color printer) (does not include instillation, training, or a 10mbit internet connection with a static IP)... I'm guessing that the rate of new instillation won't be all that great for quite some time... I'll be waiting a long while (or driving more than 6 hours) to get my printed, out-of-print books...

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