The Modern Printing Press
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 13:10
Tucked away in the corner of the Memorial Union bookstore is a rare machine, a modern printing press called The Espresso Book Machine, which allows individuals to publish and print their own books.
Its uses are numerous.
Anything written in PDF file, which is less than 550 pages, can be downloaded to the machine and printed for 6 cents a page plus sales tax.
“The machine scores the cover and applies 350 degree glue to the spine while dropping it on the cover stock,” Carl Wichman, the assistant director of the NDSU bookstore, explained.
The book is transferred to the bottom of the machine where the ends are trimmed and cut to size.
“Finished book,” Wichman says as a paperback bound book exits through a small shoot.
“And you can grab it out of there.” Jennifer Autumnstar, the Print on Demand Coordinator said. “It’s still warm.”
From start to finish it usually takes less than 10 minutes. Though a book heavy with photos can take up to 15 minutes.
Customers on campus have printed cookbooks, dissertations, poetry, family histories, memoirs and various school projects Autumnstar said.
“Northern Eclecta” an NDSU student publication used the printer last week to publish their fall publication.
Students who want to use the printer for school projects should plan ahead. Typically a proof is needed to see what adjustments need to be made before several are printed.
“It’s not an instant process,” Autumnstar said. “Somebody can’t just walk in and hand me a file and say, ‘please make me ten books,’ because it takes more time than that.”
EBM is operated by Autumnstar. Students must send a PDF file to her via e-mail or USB drive. She completes the book within a couple days depending on how many other print jobs she has.
“It’s not like the instant photo machines where you type in a bunch of stuff and out they come,” Autumnstar said. “It’s more finely calibrated than that.”
The machine can also be a tool for self-publishing Wichman said. Someone’s book could be placed on the database and shared with machines across the country. Books can be printed and sold through the EBM as needed basis to the writer and customers in other locations.
“Once it gets in the system, if they want more copies we can call it up at anytime and order more copies,” Wichman said.
Customers should call Autumnstar at least an hour in advance to warm up the machine.
The machine was ordered for the downtown NDSU bookstore and was brought to campus when the other location closed.
Paige, the given name of NDSU’s Espresso Book Machine, is the only one in the surrounding states.
The closest neighboring machine is in Missouri and was named Paige E. Guttenberg Wichman said after the inventor of the original printing press.
The manufacturer of the EBM is On Demand Books.
According to the On Demand Books website, the first machine was designed by Jeff Marsh in St. Louis, Missouri. ODB and Marsh developed the printer into what it has become today. The first machine was installed at the World Bank InfoShop Washington D.C. in 2006. The second was in The Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Since, units have been installed internationally.
The company has many partners including Google, which gives the Espresso Machine access to a database of over two million Google books including classics, and out of print public domain books.
“Mostly odd tales from the 1920s and 30s,” Wichman said can be printed through the machine. “Some are fun for research.”
Professors could also create course specific texts by modifying public domain books. For example a literature professor lecturing on Jane Eyre could add annotations and notes specific to lesson plans and lectures from the course into the binding of the book Wichman said.
For information on how to create a book with EBM go to: http://www.ndsubookstore.com/SiteText.aspx?id=13720