Friday, September 18, 2009

Harvard Bookstore's magical book machine

Harvard Book Store is going to make public domain books.
From Wired.
Google Lets You Custom-Print Millions of Public Domain Books

By Ryan Singel September 17, 2009

Any one of the more than 2 million books old enough to fall out of copyright into the public domain.

Over the last seven years, Google has scanned millions of dusty tomes from deep in the stacks of the nation’s leading university libraries and turned them into searchable documents available anywhere in the world through its search box.

And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world.

Or at least by those booksellers that have ordered its $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, which cranks out a 300 page gray-scale book with a color cover in about 4 minutes, at a cost to the bookstore of about $3 for materials. The machine prints the pages, binds them together perfectly, and then cuts the book to size and then dumps a book out, literally hot off the press, with a satisfying clunk. (The company says a machine can print about 60,000 books a year.)...

Starting Sept. 29, Bostonians can stop in the privately owned Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and have their books printed in front of them. Or they can order it over the phone and have the store deliver it — by bicycle.

There’s a certain irony to that, too, according to Google spokeswoman Jennie Johnson, since the bookstore is right next to Harvard’s library, one of the libraries that partnered with Google to turn its millions of books into an online library of the future.

“Most people can’t get into the Harvard Library, but you can print their books next door,” Johnson said.

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