Archive for November, 2009

New! Espresso Book Machine 2.0

November 30, 2009

Anyone who has seen the Espresso Book Machine 2.0 designed by On Demand Books is likely to be impressed by its efficiency in producing a printed book from one of more than 2 million public domain digital books offered by Google Books. At the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, a terminal at the store’s entrance allows one to browse titles. Once a book is identified as available, an assistant reviews the electronic images to make sure that the book has been adequately filmed.

The next step is to walk to the back of the store, where the “Espresso Book Machine” (or, as the Harvard Book Store calls it, “Paige M. Gutenborg”) abides. This looks like a fancy photocopier with binding accessories (see below). The assistant types a number into the machine; the machine does the rest. A cover is produced in color and lowered face-side down onto a binding table. Copies of pages (recto and verso) shoot onto a tray above the binding table. Once the pages are printed, they are clamped, producing a bookblock, which is turned vertically, spine downward, so that the spine can be milled. A glue bar applies a coat of glue to the spine. The pages are then lowered onto the cover, which is lifted flush against the bookblock and clamped in order to allow the glue to set. The “book” is then cropped on three sides, and sent down a chute. It arrives still warm from being photocopied and smelling of glue. The paper quality is acid-free and superior to the paper most photocopying machines provide. The entire printing process for a 400-page book takes about 8 minutes. The books cost $8.

Versions of these machines exist, have been exhibited, or are coming to about 26 locations in North America, Australia, Egypt, and the U.K. Their most obvious use is in libraries. Instead of photocopying (and damaging) books, one can now use this machine to produce far better working copies of texts than most photocopiers provide. The machine costs $100,000, which will limit its purchase by university libraries undergoing severe budget cuts. Nevertheless, its potential is promising.

The press release regarding Google Books’ agreement with On Demand Books can be accessed by clicking here. See also On Demand Books’ web site by clicking here.

The following YouTube video is offered by On Demand Books:


The Case for Books on NPR (Monday, Nov. 23rd)

November 23, 2009

Robert Darnton will discuss his The Case for Books on the Diane Rehm show (NPR, WAMU station) Monday, November 23rd, from 11 am to 12 noon (EST). While one can listen to the show in real time, the full archived version will be available on the show’s website (and then in its archives) about an hour after the program has aired.

Anna has provided a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of Darnton’s book in series of comments for a previous emob post, The Digital Revolution and the Scholar: Darnton’s View.

Sunday’s NPR Soundprint: Who Needs Libraries?

November 16, 2009

Given our ongoing discussion of Darnton’s The Case for Books and the post Anna initiated today on the Google Book Amended Settlement, this Sunday’s edition of NPR’s Soundprint program,Who Needs Libraries? is timely. Click here to listen to the program.

Google Book Settlement Revised

November 14, 2009

As we continue to discuss Robert Darnton’s excellent The Case for Books, it may be important to include a simultaneous thread on the most recent developments in the Google Book Settlement.

Google’s revised version of the Settlement was submitted on Friday. The New York Times article covering this development can be found by clicking here. It includes a number of interesting links, including links to Google’s own posting regarding the revisions and those of The Open Book Alliance.

The Digital Revolution and the Scholar: Darnton’s View

November 10, 2009

To continue the discussion begun by our consideration of Ken Auletta’s Googled, we move to another recent work. Robert Darnton, who has opted out of the Google Book Settlement for Harvard, has faith that we can do better in terms of providing digital access. His The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future presents his vision and recommendations. As he asserts in a recent article for Publisher’s Weekly:

Today, however, we have the means to make that utopia a reality. In many societies, despite enormous inequalities, ordinary people not only read but have access to a huge quantity of reading matter through the Internet. I would not minimize the digital divide, which separates the computerized world from the rest, nor would I underestimate the importance of traditional books. But the future is digital. And I believe that if we can resolve the current challenges facing books in ways that favor ordinary citizens, we can create a digital republic of letters. Much of my book is devoted to this premise and can be summarized in two words: digitize and democratize.

Because versions of the chapters in Darnton’s The Case for Books have appeared elsewhere, those who do not have a copy of his book might find the following list of sources helpful. (The first two chapters are most recent).

Chapter One comes from “Google & the Future of Books” that appeared in The New York Review of Books, (February 12, 2009).

Chapter Two comes from “The Library in the New Age,” New York Review of Books, (June 12, 2008).

Chapter Four comes from “Lost and Found in Cyberspace,” Chronicle of Higher Education ( March 12, 1999).

Chapter Five comes from “The New Age of the Book,” New York Review of Books, (March 18, 1999).

Chapter Eight comes from “The Great Book Massacre,” New York Review of Books, (April 26, 2001).

Chapter Nine comes from “The Heresies of Bibliography,” New York Review of Books, (May 29, 2003).

Chapter Ten comes from “Extraordinary Commonplaces,” New York Review of Books, (December 21, 2000).

Chapter Eleven comes from “What Is the History of the Books? (widely reprinted), Daedalus (summer 1982): 65-83.

Darnton has been interviewed by a number of sources about this book. Rebecca Rego Barry” “Google v. Gutenberg: Robert Darnton’s new book on old books and e-books” appears in Fine Books & Collecting.

The Digital Revolution and the Scholar: Auletta’s View

November 5, 2009

Ken Auletta’s new book, Googled: The End of the World as We Know it, examines Google as the driving force behind the digital revolution, changing everything in its wake. In an effort to identify the consequences of Google on the scholarly world, we are using Auletta’s book as a point of departure.

Readers are invited to contribute reactions to Auletta’s work.  Terry Gross’s recent interview with Auletta can be found by clicking here.