UPDATE: Please note that as of 5/1/2016, the Library no longer offers the EBM service. This post is retained for archival purposes only.
“Given that bookstores sell books, while libraries lend them, one might well wonder why a library would want to install a book-making machine and sell books on site.”
Terri Geitgey, Manager of Library Print Services at MPublishing, recently published an article in Library’s Hi Tech’s latest issue, Hardware in Libraries, about the University of Michigan Library’s pioneering experience with the Espresso Book Machine® (EBM), pictured here, and how this library became the first academic library in the U.S. to install it.
Owned by the University of Michigan Library, the EBM is “a transformative publishing and distribution technology” that creates a library-quality, softcover book from digital files of books in PDF format—in seven minutes. Using this technology, the Library can “tap into the Long Tail concept of selling few copies of many obscure books, rather than many copies of a limited number of popular titles.”
Currently, the EBM prints books in the public domain, that fall under Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Code, or that have the permission of the rightsholder. Books can be ordered through the catalog or through an online request form.
In addition to a new source of modest revenue, Geitgey describes an example of the use of the EBM in conjunction with Creative Commons licenses to publish textbooks cheaply for students. Chuck Severance, U-M professor and author of a textbook published through EBM, observed that this technology “allows an amazing collaboration between teachers and students in the creation of shared educational materials. Using the EBM allows the book to be a live document and to be updated every single semester.”
The article reports on these and other appealing features of on-demand publishing through EBM, as well as its drawbacks & limitations. She also explains its current and developing uses at U-M, and offers “some basic considerations for any academic institution thinking about purchasing an EBM.” It is available to read in the MPublishing collection of Deep Blue.
For more information about EBM services, please visit the FAQ page.
[Image of the machine, courtesy of On Demand Books, LLC.]