Google Books Opens Door To On-Demand Printing

    September 17, 2009

Few people would argue that computer monitors – no matter how big and how nice – are suitable for displaying entire books.  Even if the text looks okay, monitors still can’t be carried into the kitchen or held above your head on a recliner.  So it may interest readers (along with critics of the Google Books settlement) to know that Google has provided On Demand Books access to its library.

On Demand Books is the maker of the Espresso Book Machine, which can print, bind, and trim complete paperback novels in just a few minutes’ time.  You can see a demonstration of the process in the video below.

Espresso Book Machines are located in a limited number of bookstores and libraries around the globe.  Jason Epstein, the chairman and cofounder of On Demand Books, explained, "ODB, in effect an ATM for books, will radically decentralize direct-to-consumer distribution.  With the Google inventory the EBM will make it possible for readers everywhere to have access to millions of digital titles in multiple languages, including rare and out of print public domain titles."

Obviously, this move has a certain "cool" factor.  The development may make people who object to the Google Books settlement take a step back, too – it’s harder to argue that Google’s hoarding things when paper copies of books are just a few button pushes away.

Then again, Brandon Badger, a product manager at Google, may have made other folks nervous by writing on the Inside Google Books blog, "If sentient robots ever succeed in taking over the world, this is how they will print their books."