Library users at the University of Michigan will soon be able to order print-on-demand copies of books from the university’s collection—and get them in about the time it takes for a barista to whip up a latte. The Espresso Book Machine, a book-printing machine described as “the ATM of books,” goes online at Michigan’s library Oct. 1. Michigan says it’s the first university library to install the machine.
Just about any digitized, out-of-copyright book from Michigan’s collection can be printed and bound on the spot. Printing takes five to seven minutes, and the cost is about $10 per book. Users will also be able to print books from online sources such as the Open Content Alliance. The Espresso’s manufacturer, On Demand Books, wants to create a network of machines in libraries and bookshops around the world, allowing users to print books from collections anywhere.
“This is a significant moment in the history of book publishing and distribution,” Paul Courant, dean of libraries at the University of Michigan, said in a press release announcing the Espresso’s arrival on campus. “It’s a great step toward the democratization of information, getting information to readers when and where they need it.”
Watch a wee video of the Espresso doing its thing here. —Jennifer Howard