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Vending Machine For Books Coming Next Year 214

An anonymous reader writes "CNN writes about a $50,000 machine that can print books on demand. It can print up to 550 pages and put a binding on the book in seven minutes. It will be debuting in a select number of U.S. libraries in 2007. The machine is the 'output' end of a service called On Demand Books, which is also just debuting. From the article: 'Some 2.5 million books are now available - about one million in English and no longer under copyright protection. On Demand accesses the volumes through Google and the Open Content Alliance, among other sources. [Co-founder Dane] Neller predicts that within about five years On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed.'"
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Vending Machine For Books Coming Next Year

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  • by macadamia_harold ( 947445 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:28AM (#17346708) Homepage
    CNN writes about a $50,000 machine that can print books on demand. It can print up to 550 pages and put a binding on the book in seven minutes.

    I' not sure if you hear that sound. It's faint, but i'm pretty sure it's shriveling up and dying. Much like when you pour salt on a snail.
  • Call me as soon as they produce on of these that can print out Neil Stephenson tomes.
  • Bah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ResidntGeek ( 772730 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:32AM (#17346726) Journal
    Have people completely given up on the idea that our society won't last forever? Dammit, I'm going to want books when the oil runs out! What will I do if they're all on hard drives?
    • Re:Bah! (Score:5, Funny)

      by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:58AM (#17346852) Homepage Journal
      Oh, there's nothing to worry about. Our overlords will simply reload the matrix.

      Duh. Now, get back to metabolizing, coppertop.
  • pulp (Score:3, Funny)

    by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:38AM (#17346756) Homepage
    and the machine is powered by the flow of tears from green party members.
    • Re:pulp (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kidbro ( 80868 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @05:55AM (#17347190)
      and the machine is powered by the flow of tears from green party members.

      Not necessarily.
      As I don't live in the USA, I'm not a member of the party you're referring to, but I tend to vote green in our local elections - and I think this may be a good idea, even from an environmental perspective.
      The reason is simple; I can be relatively sure that a book printed by this machine will be used. If someone is explicitly asking it to print a specific book, pay the cash for it (as I assume it will come with a fee), and wait seven minutes there's a high probability that there is actually a demand for the book. Compare this with dead tree books available today, that are printed in large series, where a certain percentage of the total amount printed is destined to never be opened at all - much less read.

      Nothing makes my environmentalist heart weep as much as resources that are spent but never used.

      • unless there are very short books in the machine, and a public toilet nearby...

        Well, at least it would be use of a sort, nice soft pages mmmm.
    • Re:pulp (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kjart ( 941720 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @06:27AM (#17347294)

      and the machine is powered by the flow of tears from green party members.

      Why? This would potentially be better for the environment. Rather than a publisher printing X copies of a book, Y of which wont sell (Y may not be much smaller than X, depending on the book) a book is only printed when someone actually wants to buy it. No overstock, no waste.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Paper is potentially one of the more enviromentally friendly materials availible. The problem is with how the environment is abused with the current system. Farmed trees contribute oxygen and clean polution from the air. Plain bookstyle paper is one of the easiest things to recycle. Cutting down old growth trees for paper is obscene. The timber industry is traditional similar mineral mining. They prefer the scorched earth approch because it's more profitable. Why spend $5 planting a tree when you can cut do
  • One word: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Wilson_6500 ( 896824 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:38AM (#17346760)
    Neller predicts that within about five years On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed...

    • heh my initial thought too.

      the production cost is about a penny per page

      Last quarter I had an open notes (but closed laptop) exam that covered around 500 pages of online material. After binding that was almost 30 bucks, but damn 5 bucks if I ordered through this thing, and printed in minutes? Even if you doubled the pages to make the font legible that would be a steal.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )
        I'd wager that this system's pricing is like Lulu's: a per-page cost, then a binding cost (depending on the binding type and cover size), and then if you're not nearby, obviously, a shipping cost.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Legion303 ( 97901 )
        "but damn 5 bucks if I ordered through this thing"

        No. A penny per page is the *production* cost--what it costs the machine's owner in raw materials and electricity to print. Also it appears to be currently limited to the sort of books you can get on Project Gutenberg (i.e., public domain).
        • Most of the online materials I draw on are publicly available and reproducible journal articles, but limited to non-profit reproduction and for academic purposes (the going standard, from what I've encountered in the informatics and compsci fields). My uni's copy center runs at a slight loss after staffing (the staff are paid through fa work programs, to justify the loss), so there's no profit to be had. As for the vending machines, it really depends on how they're run. If they're purchasable by organizatio
          • The product demonstration video notes that consumers can bring in their own books to have printed and bound, too. Since the gizmo doesn't have any way of determining the copyright legalities of something a consumer wants to print, presumably it would operate under the same principles as self-service copiers at Kinko's: You're not supposed to violate copyright with them, but nobody's really looking over your shoulder to keep you from doing so.

            Google Books could indeed be a source of printable material for th
  • or (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sporkme ( 983186 ) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:39AM (#17346766) Homepage
    ...or have it in digital format for half the price. Plug up a USB compliant storage device (cellphone for instance) and you own it in seven seconds, not seven minutes. If seven seconds is too long, you can download it later from your GoogleBooks account. Your fifteen year old Okidata laser printer could print it, but why waste paper like one of those stupid machines.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fortunato ( 106228 )
      Probably because books are a handy, cheap format to have information in. I can sit in my hot tub and read a book. I won't do that with my latest electronic gizmo of the day. Its cheaper to replace the book than my gizmo if I accidentally drop what I'm reading in the water. And I can always just dry out the book and it still "works." ;)
      • Re:or (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sporkme ( 983186 ) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:01AM (#17346870) Homepage
        And nobody will ever invent a reading gizmo that is bathtub friendly, that's for sure. Do you really soak in a tub and read on a regular basis? It is pretty damned clear to me [] that this is not going to be an issue in the fairly near future.

        People that are proud to own actual copies of actual books will continue to purchase the Real Deal(TM) and not some convenience machine regurgitation. The only toe-hold on sustainability I can see for such a marketing scheme is in airports, for about seven years.

        This concept just feels a bit like a photo booth at a mall or amusement park - a nice novelty but not particularly common or successful.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Put the book vending machine in your tub. I know this is impactical, especially if you enjoy longer books.
        • Depends on the culture, photo booths are prevalent in France (think plot of Amelie).
          They're at many malls and train/subway stations. They seem to be the standard format
          for (self-supplied!) pictures for IDs.
          • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

            Depends on the culture, photo booths are prevalent in France (think plot of Amelie). They're at many malls and train/subway stations. They seem to be the standard format for (self-supplied!) pictures for IDs.

            How often do you need to supply your own photo for something like that? The only time I recall having to do that was for my passport, and you can do that with your own camera as long as the result meets certain technical requirements. IIRC, passports are good for at least ten years. For your driv

            • Often enough that they're there. Again though, if you could actually read I said FRANCE.
              You know, that country one would assume you hate without having ever visited (based
              upon your home page)?
        • Re:or (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rei ( 128717 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:17AM (#17346926) Homepage
          The situation isn't that simple. Lets look at some of the "PoD People" out there.

            * Would-be authors: For every one book that's published, there's a hundred that aren't. There is a huge glut of supply in books. This drives a lot of authors to desperation. Many turn to vanity presses, foolishly hoping to get big. They think that they have what it takes to be the next J.K. Rowling. They don't. Yes, there are problems with the publishing industry. Much of what makes a bestseller has to do with promotion. But if you can't get a big house to read you or an agent to sign you, odds are bloody good that your work is not that good.

          Lower PoD cost will make their day, and hopefully push vanity presses out of business.

          For those not familiar with the term, a "Vanity" press is a publisher that you pay to print and (supposedly) promote your book. The reality is that they have no incentive for you to make it big, and so just overcharge you for printing. Lulu and cafepress are a less scummy version of "self publishing": they tend to act only as printers. You'll still go nowhere, but you'll blow less of your money in doing so. This is just the next step.

            * Legitimate publishers: There are some very messed up things in the way that the print world works currently, and it ends up wasting a lot of money.

          1) Print run size guestimates. Publishers have to guess at how much a book is going to sell. The larger they guess, the cheaper the unit cost is, but the more likely they'll get stuck with a warehouse full of unsold books. The hope is that PoD will make producing a single book cost the same as producing a large number of books, and that they can produce them as orders come in. One big beneficiary will be small-time authors: if a publisher isn't taking as much of a risk, they can take on more clients and ones less likely to hit it big.

          2) Returns. This is a really silly thing about the industry. Big book chains not only get big discounts, but they also get obscenely kind return policies. If a seller orders a bunch of books, they can return them at the publisher's expense if they don't sell. They can do this with a large chunk of their total inventory. Indie bookstores can do this too, but not as much. This blows a huge amount of money in shipping costs. Miss Snark (one of the most famous agent bloggers) once complained about a bookstore that was relocating across the street who simply returned most of their books, then reordered them at the across the street location. Most returns won't get resold, so they're just waste. Cost-effective PoD could seriously alter this situation.

          The key is the phrase cost-effective. Cost-effective includes quality as well.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by badspyro ( 920162 )
            Last time I checked (although that WAS a while ago), Bloomsbury WAS a small publising company, and one that was not particulaly high on J.K Rowlings list of publishers.
            Just because some doesn't get published doesn't mean that the book isn't good, it just means that the publisher doesn't think it can be profitable.
            • Also, Eragon was originally published by a small publishing company formed by the author's parents.

              A lot of small press companies are using print-on-demand to get their works printed, rather than contracting for traditional print services. The tabletop roleplaying game industry does this a lot, and also sells PDFs that gamers can buy and have printed and bound at Kinko's. Personally, I'd a lot rather have it printed and bound by one of those POD machines; given that the POD machine is supposed to produce a
          • One big beneficiary will be small-time authors: if a publisher isn't taking as much of a risk, they can take on more clients and ones less likely to hit it big.

            They are still taking a fairly good sized risk - editing and producing a book, along with promoting it still costs real money. Unlike printing costs (which can and are partially recouped by pulping and recycling returns), these costs are totally sunk.

            In addition, from a bookstores POV, these machines are a *huge* risk - they are significant

          • They think that they have what it takes to be the next J.K. Rowling. They don't.

            Unless they're Barty Crouch.
        • I spend a lot of my disposable income on books. The overwhelming majority of the books I buy are second hand, often over 30 years old, many over 50 (I'm a fan of old science fiction).

          The idea of getting my books from a machine doesn't appeal one jot. I like to browse shelves and poke through boxes of books just arrived in my local secondhand bookshop.

          It's a pleasant way to while away an hour, to select a nice looking book, get a coffee and sit in their reading area perusing my new find.

          Vending machines in u
          • think about a bookshop that has 10k books, at about 5 copies of each. (standard everyday bookshop)

            now imagine one that has 50k books, one copy of each.. you browse, and find the one you want.. buy it an walk out- they'll print another and put it on the shelf.

            if you prefer to wait 7 minutes, they'll print a fresh one for you- with your name on it.

            (PS I have a lotta scifi with original cover prices of 15-75 cents too.. but I'm also into this idea)

            • For textbooks I would be instantly enamored of it, seriously, I'd love it at my Uni, but for my personal book buying habits it would be horrible.

              Half the fun is browsing for me.
              • yer missing my point.. a standard bookshop has space for 50k books, with duplicates, that means you get to browse 10k titles.

                IU'm suggesting, the POD store prints one of each of 50k titles, and puts them on the shelf.. you BROWSE THEM, if you find a keeper, you buy that keeper, or request a new copy for yourself if you have the time.-- advantage- now you have the ability to browse 5X the number of titles in the same space.

                • ah, I see what you mean. Yes, that would be ok.

                  I do still like my old books, but Since I am a book addict anyhow, I guess I will be trying this thing out if it appears.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      Your fifteen year old Okidata laser printer could print it, but why waste paper like one of those stupid machines.

      Because a good book is not a waste of paper and my 1895 printing of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland works just as well today as the day it was new.

      Of course it's hardbound. My paperback copy of The Blind Watchmaker is now effectively a loseleaf edition. We are Devo. Dee Eee Vee Ooh!

      • Back in the old days of manual drafting it was pretty obvious if someone other than the original draftsman made changes to a drawing. This is no longer true - sure you can invoke the wrath of the IT people by demanding timestamps and backups in order to prove a point, but it's usually not worth the effort and headaches.

        Plus the IT people are in control of the data, so any slip-ups on the part of "the machine", software or network are never their fault; it's always just a "system error" that never gets exp
    • ...or have it in digital format for half the price.

      When was the last time you received a product manual and actually read the thing? Probably about the same time when they started being distributed exclusively in electronic form, right?

      I've got a drive filled with everything from O'Reilly books in html, PDF versions of texts I purchased and didn't purchase, and a seemingly infinite amount of documentation that's too long to read on screen and too short or of too little interest to the unwashed mashes to
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:52AM (#17346812) Homepage Journal
    I'm surprised the writeup didn't include the manufacturer's website [], which includes a Quicktime movie of the machine in operation []. It's a pretty neat-looking machine, though considerably larger than the "ATM for books" illustration that they came up with for the news story would suggest—about the size of one of those huge printers that sit behind the counter at Kinko's.
    • Nice. They did a good job of making it look like something from an early 1980's space adventure television series. I'm thinking Buck Rogers...
    • Thanks for the link! From the video it appears that then put together different machinery they were already producing. This gives the machine a more or less homebrew touch. I also wonder how reliable it is. Considering the number of paper jams in average copiers, I fear the worst. Not something I would leave unattended all day. But a cool machine nevertheless!
  • by rumplet ( 1034332 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:52AM (#17346814) Homepage
    Actually I was sort of hoping for a device the size of a novel that opens out and has two e-ink pages, godly battery life, huge solid state memory, with no "features", just basic navigation to flip pages and change book files.

    Vending machine books is not an obvious idea, but in my opinion it's not very useful either.
  • "The machine can print, align, mill, glue and bind two books simultaneously in less than seven minutes, including full-color laminated covers."

    Does this mean I can get a copy of Mein Kamft, hardbound and set in Comin Sans... with a bunny rabbit cover... in seven minutes?

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:36AM (#17346982) Homepage
    A machine like this has debuted every other year or so for about the last decade - they have significantly failed to reach either their technical promises (producing crappy quality books) or their commercial goals. (You have to sell a lot of books to make back your initial investment.)
    Print-on-demand is a solution in search of a problem.
    • Print-on-demand is a solution in search of a problem.

      Actually it isn't. Its a solution people refuse to invest in. Imagine if Marvel and DC Comics made available all of their old comics through PoD. No more out of print comics. Imagine if books that are now out of print, were actually made available through PoD. No more out of print books.

      No, PoD is definitely a solution for a very real problem. The only thing stopping it from taking off is publishers and copyright holders.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Silly reasoning. Stuff goes out of print because the publisher chooses to obsolete the material. They can't make money off of new stuff and charge new prices for it if people are constantly buying up the old material.

        They wouldn't be able to charge a premium on the older stuff like they do now (as collecter's editions or whatever) if they did not restrict the quantity.

        Publishing is a racket. I don't really see a demand for this, either.
      • Print-on-demand is a solution in search of a problem.

        Actually it isn't. Its a solution people refuse to invest in.

        Try reading what I wrote - POD machines have debuted to much fanfare every other year or so for over a decade. Millions of dollars have been invested in them - and all of it to date lost because either the machines made crappy (physical) quality books, or it turned out that there wasn't a demand.

        Imagine if Marvel and DC Comics made available all of their old comics through Po

        • Books generally go out of print for a reason - because the demand for them sinks below a profitable level

          With the case of PoD there is no money lost, see Lulu as a successful example (not talking about vending machine PoDs).

          Try reading what I wrote - POD machines have debuted to much fanfare every other year or so for over a decade. Millions of dollars have been invested in them - and all of it to date lost because either the machines made crappy (physical) quality books, or it turned out that there wasn't

          • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @12:59PM (#17348476) Homepage
            If you'd presented a description of the problem it solves - I'd say you are correct. But you didn't. (Airy handwaving about imaginary worlds isn't describing a problem.)

            Funny, I said enough for you to realise what the problem was: Books falling to such a low interest that traditional publishing means are no longer profitable.

            The problem with this problem is... it's not really a problem. As I said, these (POD, not just the POD vending) machines have been introduced (multiple) times as a solution to this 'problem' - but have failed each time. This suggests to me that the problem doesn't actually exist.
    • I wonder what happens if this thing gets a paperjam, and you've already deposited your $5.

      Also, don't ``mass market paperbacks'' sell for $5-$10 anyway? So why bother with these things?

      • by Woldry ( 928749 )
        Because there are thousands of titles that aren't available in mass market paperback (or trade paperback, or hardcover) because they've gone out of print. Bringing things back into print for a single-copy run is an exciting prospect to me. I can't wait to print myself the entire run of the Rick Brant Science-Adventure mysteries [].
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:56AM (#17347032) Homepage

    Watched the video. The binder is huge, slow, and has way too many moving parts. Far too much paper handling. Looks like a prototype, too.

    Worse, the price/performance is terrible. This $50,000 mechanical nightmare can only bind about 60 books per hour. Compare this IBIS automatic binder [], which can produce 6000 books per hour; 12000 if you get some extra options.

    A more fundamental question: Perfect bound books are made by doing a binding job that isn't perfect, then cutting off the edges to make the block of paper uniform. Maybe it would be easier to develop a better way of aligning the paper and using paper that's dimensionally uniform.

    • I think you're missing the point. Yes, this is an ALPHA model of the device, as the website clearly states.

      The key technologies here are
      a) the printers are capable of processing subsequent jobs while still producing a current job
      b) all machine settings flow from a data file associated with a particular book format
      c) your raw inputs are paper, ink/toner, and cover stock (and data). That's it.

      How much is one of those IBIS machines? You'd need at least the SB3-4 to do the job, and in that case you have to f
    • by g2devi ( 898503 )
      I think you're missing the point.

      Book stores have a huge inventory and a huge number of surplus books that need to be sold at cut-rate prices. There's a lot of waste in the system. Worse than that, despite all the inventory, book stores don't always have the books you need (they have a limited property size). Even worse than that, because storing books or printing them on demand at the big IBIS places is so expensive, books go out of print if they're not popular enough and if you happen to want/need one of
    • Apples and oranges. The IBIS binder is industrial-grade equipment, meant to be used by a POD print shop. The Espresso is supposed to be a miniature, one-off print shop all by itself. It won't be able to do books as rapidly as an industrial operation, but it will also be accessible to the average consumer where a print shop would be too costly and time-consuming.

      Besides, the video notes that depending on the speed of printer and so forth that is used in the Espresso, it could go as quickly as one completed b
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:59AM (#17347040) Journal
    DRM paper.

    Books printed in vending machines that will self destruct in one year and which will automatically shut down copy machines trying to duplicate it.
    • which would be great, as it would allow publishers to have the option of offering items at a lower cost to the consumer for the same reason that the "all you can eat" salad bar at TGI fridays costs more than a single side-salad.

      Of course, this is slashdot, so the response that I can expect will be "the companies will use this as an excuse to jack up the prices - aren't you naive!" line from people who don't believe in markets.

      • aren't you naive!" line from people who don't believe in markets.

        Unfortunately, things like this aren't subject to market forces like salads. There are multiple places I can buy a salad, which creates competition to force down prices. With a book (or music), there is only a single source for that particular book. To use the salad analogy, it would be as if only one restaurant offered salads. If you didn't like the price of the salad, you only had the option of getting a sandwich elsewhere. That's some a

  • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @06:17AM (#17347260)
    Imagine this: You put your $5 in, wait an entire seven minutes for it to print, then the book gets stuck in the coil and doesn't drop down.
  • by changyang1230 ( 832917 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @06:53AM (#17347342)
    One thing for sure, this machine can't print Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
    • by Duds ( 100634 ) *
      Being pedantic, we don't know how long that book'll be.

      You are right in that it couldn't do Goblet of Fire (636 pages), Order of the Phoenix (766 pages) or Half blood prince (607 pages).
  • And it'll be illegal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 23, 2006 @07:03AM (#17347358)
    within about five years On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed.'

    errrr... every Public Domain book that's ever been printed. And scanned. And proofread....

    And the "content" industries will be beavering away buying more copyright laws to lock up content till the stars turn to iron...
  • What I never get about these prin on demand things is how can they get the cost per page down. E.g. Laser printers may have a cost per page at about 0.05 cents [], that would mean $27 for one 550 page book, that excludes the hardcover. Even if this thing 50% cheaper it's still very expensive..

    But... When I was viisting South America there were lots of copy shops that printed A4 on both sides for 0.10 bolivianos * 275 page = $3.3, that's almost cheap enough. But these photocopiers were analog monster tuned and
  • 420 seconds???? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @07:40AM (#17347458) Homepage Journal
    7 minutes? Can you give me something to read while I'm waiting?

    Seriously, for novels, first 10 pages of Chapter 1 loose or stapled, then print the whole book while I get started.

    Let's see, assuming all pages are printed 2-up and cut, and assuming 2 printed pages per second, that's 4 book-pages per second of printing time. 550 pages = just under 2:18. Add time for cutting and binding and time for the glue to dry and I could see 3-4 minutes for a 550-page book. If it's a 1 page/second printer, add another 2:18.

    If you can do this in full-color on glossy paper in a reasonable period of time for a reasonable price, you will be able to print international magazines anywhere, with local advertising content. Remember, people like reading actual magazines more than they like reading PDFs.
  • While 5-10 minutes might be too long for a vending machine-to-individual interface, imagine if your favorite bookstore or library had a few of these. You could order a book they didn't have in stock and browse for a few minutes, and then pick it up instead of having to go elsewhere or maybe not get it at all (out of prints). That seems like the most obvious implementation.
  • CNN missed the fact that this has been going on in Africa for some time now. I saw an article several years ago where they drive around in a truck something like this in the back.

    But back to the topic at hand, can't we just get the electronic copies for the love of all that is holy in the world?. Is there ANY REAL reason where we can't just go to, order a book, receive an email with a link and download it from there? I mean, if I want to read a chapter at the commode I can print it off myself. Bu
  • Xerox has been selling the books on demand idea since they got digital printers working. The only thing added with this is the vending machine front end that let's one pick the book. Check out [] for commercial on demand printer of out of copyright books. BTW, 3 cents per page is for low volume Xerographic printing or maybe what color is approaching. B&W is around 1 cent per page on a large volume machine.
  • Hmmm, one wonders if this machine-dependent limitation will have the same effect on the future of books that the 74 minute CDs had on music. I suppose you could vary the font size to squeeze in more content, but beyond what can be gained by that you would probably have to break it up into volumes (like a 2 CD set).
  • Does this mean I can go and have printed and bound, a book of vintage porn?

    Just wondering...

  • Clueless CNN (Score:4, Informative)

    by InklingBooks ( 687623 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @12:43PM (#17348428)
    This CNN reporter, like many of her colleagues, is utterlessly clueless, knowing about as much about this topic as a reporter who'd breathelessly report, circa 1925, that Oldsmobile had a revolutionary new factory that would turn out a new invention called the automobile, powered by gasoline, which would replace the horse and buggy. Notice the use of "legendary" to describe a flesh-and-blood person, Jason Epstein. That's a good indication of a fluff-headed, hysteria-inclined journalist. King Arthur is legendary. Epstein isn't.

    This technology has been around and in wide use for years. Print on Demand has trade journals and is a routine part of publishing today. Tens of thousands of the books you find on Amazon are POD books. Some publishing companies, including my own, are built around a POD model. One printing company, Lightning Source, where I do business, recently upped its POD production capacity from one to three million books a month. Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge University presses all release some scholarly works POD and have for years.

    True, there hasn't been much effort to put the machinery into bookstores or libraries, but that's merely a matter of economics and quality. Will there be enough demand to cover the cost of this $50,000 machine and its maintenance? Will the books be reasonably priced and not poor quality? Think of all the troubles you have had with copy machines in libraries. This machine is far more complex, so how likely is it to be well maintained? POD books can look quite good, as good in quality as most traditionally published books. But that's because they're printed in factories with experienced staff overseeing far larger and more expensive machinery. An economy of scale keeps the quality high and the cost low.

    Don't be so quick to believe what you hear from news outlets such as CNN.

    --Mike Perry, Inkling Books, Seattle
  • ... how many libraries of congress can this puppy print per hour?
  • I did RTFA,(forgot my med's, again). But lets consider a typical school purchase of a Sociology Book, for 1300 middle school children. The approximate cost to order, handle, store, and distribute was $115,000. This book copier looks like a good purchase, except for the Binding part. The pretty picture, on a casual glance, shows hard bound books. I think, realistically, that the binding is of a thicker paper type; That means the book can only be used once per child, then on to the recycle bin. Does the
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @01:50PM (#17348690)
    Books are one of the last remnants of real humanity, in our temporary, disposable, generic, fast-food culture. No matter how much of the rest our lives becomes generic, sterile, and commoditized, I think that people will *never* give up their real books. I know that I never will. This machine isn't nearly as good as my local used book store where I can go through the books, and pick up fantastic books for a few quarters.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @08:41PM (#17350632)
    On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed.'"

    Okay, for my first order I'd like a copy of all the books from the Library at Alexandria please.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10